Do Castles Have Roofs?

There are no ancient or famous structures more relevant and toured than castles; They are old yet revered in recent times. The patterns and materials used in building them also differ. So, you may have questions such as – Do Castles have roofs? What did castles contain? Were castles water-resistant? Etc.

Yes, castles have roofs. Castle roofs were made of different materials depending on what’s available. Some roofs were made of wood, slates, clay tiles, lead, etc. All the interiors of castles had one form or roofing or another, except areas suitable for open-sky.

Do Castles have roofs?

What were castle roofs like?

There was no general roofing method, although some were more common than others.

  • Timber Framed Roofs: Some castle roofs master masons made of foreign materials and whatever materials were readily available and then framed with Timber. Timber framed roofs were fire-prone.
  • Wooden Roofs: In the medieval era, vegetation was readily available. As such, wood was one of the cheapest building materials to procure. Some castles had wooden roofs made from mahogany and other trusted wood types. Wooden roofs were also susceptible to fire attacks (For example, fiery arrows could be shot at the roofs, setting them ablaze). 
  • Slates: Slates were also famous roofing materials. They are fine-grained metamorphic rocks that could be easily split into flat surfaces/ plates. They differed in colour; some grey, green, bluish-purple, etc.
  • Oak Shingles and Thatch: These served as roofing materials for castles too. However, they had the same deficiencies as other wooden roof materials. Additionally, these were not so dependable in the long term, and they deteriorated fast.
  • Clay tiles: These were usually more expensive than regular wooden roofs, but they lasted longer and were not susceptible to fire like others.
  • Lead: With time, lead became the most durable roofing material. It was hard to burn, watertight and windproof. Due to its costs, only the wealthiest barons/lords could afford it as a castle roof.

The Origin of Stone Castles

Stone castles were structures of necessity. Originally, ancestors built castles with wooden materials, but those could easily be penetrated or burnt down

Stone castles were, therefore, great alternatives, attackers couldn’t burn through, and invaders couldn’t penetrate them easily. 

Additionally, the engineers could build stone castles in the inner part of a wooden castle without affecting the original wood structure until work is complete. 

The first stone castle in history is the Tower of London of 1087. 

Nevertheless, nothing appears to be impenetrable. With time, attackers learned routes into stone castles. 

They would burn it from underground until the edges fell. But, of course, moats could prevent this from happening. Click here to read our article on moats and learn how this is possible.

The roof of stone castles

The roof of stone castles could be any of the above. The most common roof for stone castles was the wooden roof, except those with tops carved from stones. 

Castle roofs were usually undercoated underneath to avoid leakages (the sand was mostly used for this).

 Castle roofs also had multiple shapes; some were cone, circular, or dome, and others were square, rectangular, or simply flat.

 Roofs had flat surfaces that could store water, and they were built with holes that drained the water into a ditch, moat, or castle ground.

Furthermore, in the 16th century, around 1550, removable roofs became rampant. The roofs could be removed in the event of an attack so that soldiers could attack from there. 

Now, let’s address some of the most famous questions about castle structures.

Were castles water-resistant?

Firstly, it depends. If what you mean by being water-resistant is the inability for water to leak through roofed portions, then yes – castles were water-resistant. 

But remember, that does not mean every section of the castles was water-resistant. The places which were unroofed/ uncovered were obviously not water-resistant. 

However, the castles had a drainage system to anchor water into drainages or ditches away from the castle floors. 

That aside, castles had waterproof roofs and windows to protect against rain. Remember, they were home for nobles, and a leaking/ flooded room is just too uncomfortable for a noble.

What is inside a castle?

Allow your mind to wander a little bit as to the content of a castle. It is allowed! Who wouldn’t like to live or experience life in a castle; since we can’t, we may as well have an idea of what castles contained, right?

You may have pictured frozen animal skins preserved by taxidermy or strange things as we see in movies (remember Game of Thrones?) or arts as seen in the famous Bridgerton. Both could be correct.

 Just know that the content of a castle depended on its owners’ tastes, preferences, and choices.

Here’s are some domestic features to expect in castles:

  • Stairways: Stairways were used to connect portions of a castle. They were mostly made of stone or the same materials as the walls of the castles.
  • Doors & Door locks
  • Fireplace (most castles had this for temperature control in cold times)
  • Windows
  • Handmade furniture or vintage materials
  • Art!!!
  • Statues of prominent individuals or their previous owners
  • Library or a ledger with castle history
  • Decorative features

There is no exact item to expect to see but be ready to feel age and beauty in its walls and all around its designs.

By the way, here is the article about the rooms you can find in a medieval castle make sure you don’t skip it.

Did castles have chimneys?

Yes, most castles have chimneys. 

However, although you can find chimneys in almost every medieval castle today, it was not indigenous to castle design because the earliest castles did not have them.

 Chimneys were first spotted in the 12th century, particularly in 1185AD in a Yorkshire castle.

What are castle windows called?

Castle windows are called embrasure. Embrasures were small openings between two solid walls or pavements. 

The castle builders sometimes made as arrowslits, and in other times, they were covered with wooden windows carved to fit in.

Did you enjoy this article? Check out our website for more articles about castles.

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