Let's talk about castle foundations. Isn't it incredible how these heavy buildings haven't sunk into the ground after almost thousands of years? The next question that comes to mind is what kind of foundations are hidden beneath a castle, or do the castles actually have foundations? \n\n\n\nYes, castles have foundations. Most of the Castles have sturdy foundations in the form of natural bedrock on elevated locations or high hills. When such an option wasn't available, they used foundations similar to the modern-day system, when a wide trench is dug and filled with gravel to provide a stable base for the castle.\n\n\n\nPicture by Diego Sideburnson flickr.com\n\n\n\nOne common feature about castle builders in the medieval era is that they focused on readily available building materials. The same thing applies to foundations. \n\n\n\nMost castle builders dug deep into the ground, located the natural bedrock, and built upward. \n\n\n\nIn this article, you will learn about the various foundation methods used in the medieval era regarding castles.\n\n\n\n\nBook a trip to your favourite castle\n\n\n\n\nHow were Castle foundations built?\n\n\n\nSince ancestors mostly built castles on hills and elevated areas, all the builders had to do was locate the bedrock and then attach the main walls of the castle to it. \n\n\n\nAs such, the buildings were firm to the ground. \n\n\n\nWhen that method did not work (due to the area's topography), a wide trench is often dug in the desired layout, and then gravel is mixed with binding materials such as cement, and then the main buildings are built on it. \n\n\n\nThis latter method is more recent. However, generally before now, the builder's first task was to find a suitable ground that could hold a castle, but in recent times with increasing construction techniques, a castle can be built just about anywhere, provided the suitable building tools\/ materials are available.\n\n\n\nMaterials used in building castle foundations\n\n\n\nPeople built Castles in England and all over the world from diverse materials. Such as:\n\n\n\n1. Stone foundation \n\n\n\nStone castles began to evolve in the 1100s. They were favoured for their invulnerability, as assault weapons couldn't easily penetrate or pass through the wall. \n\n\n\nThese stone castles had sturdy and stony foundations (Note that even some earthen castles had stone foundations too). \n\n\n\nFor stone castles, the stones used for the main buildings were usually the same as the stones used for the foundations, except that the foundation stones were often undressed and buried underneath the ground.\n\n\n\nAre you wondering what kind of stone they used? Unfortunately, there are no hard or fast rules about stones used for building castles. \n\n\n\nMedieval builders used stones that were available or around them or that could be procured.\n\n\n\n For example, The Carlisle castle in England was built out of locally sourced grey and red sandstone. In contrast, some castles were made of flint, sea pebbles and chalk, rock, etc.\n\n\n\n2. Gravel foundation\n\n\n\nMore contemporary foundation methods for castles included the use of gravel.\n\n\n\n Gravel was used at the foundation level sometimes, while at other times, the gravels would be mixed with whichever binding materials were readily available at the time. \n\n\n\nGravel foundations have proven reliable and are still used for buildings up to date.\n\n\n\n3. Brick foundations\n\n\n\nYes, this sounds oddly recent, but some castles indeed had brick foundations - especially brick castles.\n\n\n\n A typical example is the Kenilworth castle, built in bricks in the early 13th century.\n\n\n\n4. Timber Foundations\n\n\n\nMasons originally built many old castles with wood because it was one of the most reliable and most available building materials. \n\n\n\nTimber was obtained from nearby forests and used to build the castles. Many of those castles had their foundations laid with wood.\n\n\n\n As time went on, castle builders encountered the challenge of decaying timber and weakening this structure, which explains why most of the wooden structures were converted to stone castles in more recent times. \n\n\n\nIn Lithuania, there are over 1000 sites of hill forts that used to have wooden castles on them.\n\n\n\n5. Earthen Foundations:\n\n\n\n Earthen foundations can be commonly seen in Motte and Bailey's castles of earlier times.\n\n\n\n These castles were primarily built around hills. Earth and clay were usually moulded from and around the hills, using the hill as a natural foundation. \n\n\n\nThe Motte and Bailey castles were favoured for their defensive designs and were propagated or improved by the Normans.\n\n\n\nWhy Motte and Bailey castles? \n\n\n\nDuncan Grey \/ Display Board of Huntingdon Hill Motte and Bailey Castle \/ CC BY-SA 2.0\n\n\n\nThey were easy to build and could be completed in few weeks. Even with an impending attack, lords with sufficient manpower could build a suitable and secured motte and bailey castle.\n\n\n\n These castles had three major parts;\n\n\n\n\u2022 The Motte is a raised mound of earth where the main building (keep) is located. It could be found in the middle of the bailey or outside but always with direct access to it.\n\n\n\n\u2022 The Bailey is mostly an enclosed courtyard usually housing the castle. A wooden fence surrounds it called a palisade and usually is circled by a moat with one or two drawbridge going over the moat for access.\n\n\n\n\u2022 The Keep is the last resort in a Norman castle, which is also the main building where kings and nobles spend most o their time. \n\n\n\nMotte and bailey castles were susceptible to fire \u2013 this is another main reason they were replaced with stone castles later on.\n\n\n\nIron & Lead Foundation\n\n\n\nImagine a castle whose foundation is laid in iron! Some historians have maintained that in the 9th century, iron and lead were used for foundations. \n\n\n\nMany also opine that engineers used them for building pillars and other building parts. Although there is no physical evidence of such castles today, iron could probably have served as a foundation since they are firm and reliable. Thus, people in medieval times used what was solid and available.\n\n\n\nDid castles have basements?\n\n\n\nMost of the large medieval castles have basements that the owners used for different purposes like storages, dungeons, ice houses, or keeping many people during a siege.\n\n\n\nIf you made it that far you are probably a castle enthusiast, same as us.\n\n\n\nIn this case, there are plenty of questions answered in our blog section, like;\n\n\n\n What Is The Largest Castle In Ireland?\n\n\n\nWhat is Inside a Medieval Castle? \n\n\n\nHow Much did it Cost to Build a Castle in the Middle Ages?\n\n\n\n How Much Does it Cost to Maintain a Castle? \n\n\n\n\u00a0What's the Difference Between a Palace and a Castle?\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nFind out more\n\n\n\n\nLists o top castles around the world.