Dark Towers

Dark Towers

The towers of the inner ward were used for other purposes than just defense, unlike the towers of the outer ward and the town wall. There were sometimes only four inner ward towers, and they were also much larger. There were four main floors in each tower with a fifth floor (the lookout tower) at the top. The first three floors were enclosed inside the tower. The ground floor was usually used as storage room and was called the basement. The second and third floors could be used as living space, or an office for the different servants in the castle, such as a steward. There was usually a fireplace in one or both of these floors. Smoke traveled up through a hole in the wall to the top of the tower. The fourth floor was really just an open platform on the roof. It was capped on all sides with merlons. The fifth floor was the top of the lookout tower. It was also capped with merlons. All the floors could be reached by a spiral staircases built into the wall. The floors themselves were usually made of wood. Like the floors in most houses, they were covered with reeds and sweet smelling herbs. The first two floors had no windows except for arrow holes usually. The third floor and occasionally the second floor had windows. There was no glass because that was very expensive. In the opening, a iron grate was laid to keep out attackers if they managed to climb up the tower to that height. Shudders were used to keep out wind.

One of the towers in the inner ward was usually reserved as a chapel. It was different from the other towers in that it had one room that was two stories high. There was still a basement and two floors exposed to the element above the two storied room. In the two storied room was the chapel. It often had stained glass windows, albeit not overly large ones. The purpose of the tower was still defense. These windows also had metal panes to protect from intruders. The altar was next to the windows. On the second floor level was a place for the lord and his family to sit. Other church goers would stand on the wooden floor above the basement. Mass was said by the castle chaplain.

Towers could also be used as prisons. Below the basement, a hole could be dug or cut into rock. It was reached through a trap door from above. These holes in the ground were very dark and were used to keep prisoners for ransom, usually. Criminals were usually not held in a castle. These holes were called dungeons, or oubliettes.

A tower might be used for many other things too. They were often used for servant's quarters. In many larger castles, the steward had his own tower where his bedroom and office was located. Other town and castle officials often lived in towers. A tower could be used as a guesthouse, also.