Windsor Castle facts
Fact: Windsor Castle is the Oldest Still-Occupied European Castle.
At about 900 years old, Windsor is still occupied by Queen Elizabeth II (one of the many facilities she calls home). Originally, it was a wooden motte-and-bailey-type castle built by William I as the first in a series of nine castles. Later it was renovated with stones and was given a few additions by way of some outer walls and a round tower by a generous Henry II. Sounds similar to the way every elected U.S. President has added a new feature to the White House (most recently with President Obama’s basketball court). Whatever you can do to call it home…
Fact: They Were Built Strictly for Defense.
Just looking at all the apparatus and features of a castle gives you a pretty good idea of its purpose: moats, turrets, ramparts, murder holes, gun and arrow loops, etc. Every single one of these design elements was meant to keep enemies out and down. A few that stand out: murder holes were holes in the ceiling through which scalding liquids would be poured on the enemy. Gun and arrow loops were slits out of which arrows could be fired from with little detection. It seemed foolish in any context to even approach a castle without a written invitation.
Fact: Stairs Always Turned Clockwise.
Castles were always built with a spiraling staircase that turned clockwise. This was a purposeful design element that served an incredibly practical purpose; the idea was incoming siegers would ascend the stairs, but be given a huge disadvantage in the way of their sword arm, as most people are right-handed. On the other hand, castle occupants descending the stairs would be given the advantage of a staircase designed with their sword-arms in mind. Damned they were though, if they were attacked by an entirely left-handed infantry.
Fact: There Are 1500 Castle Sites in England.
This is according to the Castellarium Anglicanum which is supposed to be the ultimate authority on castles in England and Wales. Note the intentional use of the term “site, ” as many of these castles are ruined to the point of invisibility, while over 800 have some remnants, and more than 300 are still standing and structurally intact to a large degree. Also note, there is some debate as to what constitutes a “castle, ” as some structures claim to be castles even as they are definitively not so.