Medieval keep

Medieval keep

Keeps were typical buildings in the Middle Ages, also built independently from castles.



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The first keeps were built in the Early Middle Ages. Kings and landlords were among the first residents of these towers, often called 'donjons,' but they grew in importance when a new noble social class, the knights appeared. Initially, knights' keeps were solitary towers, but later they became integral parts of fortifications, surrounded by stone walls and other buildings.

The first keeps were built in the Romanesque style. They were characterized by strong, thick walls and a round or rectangular floor plan. Their function was to provide security for the owner and his family for longer periods.

Their structure was designed to suit this function.

Water supply was provided by a well or cistern in the basement. The dungeon (if there was one) was on the ground floor.

The only entrance to the keep was situated on the first floor of the tower, for easy defense; it was accessible by external stairs.

Rooms for guards and servants, the armory and food storage, as well as the reception room were on the upper floors.

The family rooms were on the topmost, most secure levels of the tower.

There were guards on duty at the top of the keep, so they could spot the enemy from afar. For security reasons, there were only small air holes and arrow slits in the walls instead of windows.

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