And the astronomyours beheldyne the constellacions of hys bryth by thare castle,
and foundyn that he sholde bene wyse and curteyse, good of consaill.
This site aspires to be a comprehensive listing
of the medieval castles, castle sites, fortified houses, urban and
coastal defences and other fortifications of England, Wales, the Channel Isles and the Isle of Man built or
in use from 1000 to 1600. It's not a history of castles and users of
the site are expected to have a basic understanding of castles and
medieval England and Wales. The site is a regularly updated listing with location information, some brief site details, carefully considered web links and a full academic bibliography. The site is a resource for those interested
in castles studies both professional and amateur.
This is an ambitious project and any such list is bound to have omissions and errors. However, it is hoped that by using the flexible and responsive media of the Internet that this list can be as comprehensive and as current as possible. The site has taken, as the standard for what is a fortification, that which the various authors from which the information is drawn have considered to be a fortification, although some sites have later been rejected as fortifications and these are noted as such. Sites which consist of entirely passive defences such as moated houses and walled sites without wall walks and parapets are generally excluded. However, as a 'control group', the databases and website do list all the royal and episcopal residential houses and hunting lodges of the period (lumped together under the title 'palace'). Some of these were fortified but many were not. Defining 'the castle' is difficult and any definition of a castle, whilst explaining why places of different social status and form are all castles, should also explain why some places of equal social status were not castles.
Gatehouse consists of three main sections. The first is the listings and individual pages of medieval fortifications; the second is a listing of the texts and online sources used in compiling information for these lists, this section also contains details of some other important or useful texts and Internet resources; the third section is a collection of other resources of interest to castle studies such as distribution maps, some statistics, a list of licences to crenellate and some other transcriptions of primary sources and some lists and discussion of archaeological terminology.
Gatehouse was never intended to be a photographic resource and has relatively few photographs and visual images. However for most sites links are provided to several websites that do provide photographic images, notably Andrew Herrett's CastleFacts site and Geograph Britain and Ireland.
Notes on the term 'fortification'The term fortification, in regard to medieval buildings, is one open to much discussion. Many of the buildings in this gazetteer, despite much insistence, were never intended to be used in actual warfare but were meant as a symbolic display of the status of the buildings owner. This does not always mean their defensive features, like machicolations, were sham, although some were. Even when a castle is recorded as being besieged this does not mean it was necessarily built to resist a siege. Large houses of high status they were likely to be used as retreats during warfare whatever their design. In the 17th century English Civil Wars many high status domestic houses, with no military features, were besieged, sometimes for weeks. Care must be taking in drawing conclusions as to the function and purpose of complex buildings like castles. A portico of Corinthian columns does not mean Birmingham Town Hall was built as a temple. A parapet of battlements does not mean a house was built as a military base.
Walls, moats and strong gates kept thieves out but there has always been a differentiation between such passive defensive features and the supposed active fortification features which allowed the inhabitants of a 'castle' to fight back against an attacking army.
Generally, within the Gatehouse website fortification means a particular type of architectural style derived from military considerations - some of these military considerations were actual, some were potential and some were purely symbolic.
This project has been much assisted by the help and support of many kind and
Gatehouse thanks the many who have helped.
While every reasonable effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the data held within this web site and the associated downloadable databases, it must be appreciated that much of this data is compiled from secondary sources and that the information supplied may not be a full or reliable statement of the archaeology, history, etc.. Gatehouse and its author shall not be held liable in respect of any errors or omissions from the data provided. If you use this site for something important you should check the sources cited and check the sources they have used. Please do inform Gatehouse of any errors you do find.
The site contains much copyright material belonging to third parties used with permission on the bases that this site is not commercial and is provided as an educational resource or under the general principle of 'fair use'. Use of material from this web site for commercial purposes may breach copyright restrictions and result in prosecution. You will need to check all given sources to establish the actual copyright holder.
The latest version of Gatehouse (November 2010) is designed to comply with the CSS3 standard. This means the site is best viewed in Safari, Firefox, Chrome, Opera and other Mozilla based browsers, at a window size of about 1000px width. It should work in other browsers, such as Explorer and older versions of the above but some design features, notably multicolumn text, will be missing. The author of Gatehouse is, by inclination a historian not a graphic or web designer and he does not have the resources to purchase the services of professional designers. Please do let Gatehouse know of any browser incompatibility problems or design faults and do feel free to give suggestions for design improvements.
An irregular short newsletter of changes and additions to the Gatehouse website is published. You are most welcome to subscribe to this.
In the Gatehouse web site are around 6000 individual pages for medieval fortified sites and another 1000 or so pages of historical references.
Unfortunately it is not possibly to directly search for an
individual site from within the web site (but the county
and site indexes are
useful). The site is pretty well indexed by Google and use of the Google search
engine in the page header should produce full results but see the news page, or subscribe to the newsletter, for
latest information as the Google updating of the changes to the site takes
Gatehouse is not responsible for the advertisements on the Google results page and gains no revenue from these.
Be flexible with your searching, many sites have different names and variant spellings, some 'castles' may well be in another category such as Tower House or Fortified Manor House. Note the Gatehouse lists are by historic counties as they were in the mid C19 not as they were in 1973 (so Tamworth Castle will be found in Warwickshire not Staffordshire - see Location Information for more detail). For more complex searches, such as a list of the sites recorded by David Cathcart King in his seminal Castellarium Anglicanum, do download the databases on which this site is based and put them into a database management program or spreadsheet. Gatehouse is intended as a support tool to aid research so please feel free to use it this way.