After the castle site was picked, and the designs laid out, the actual construction began. Workers congregated at the site, built themselves temporary homes, and got to work. Carpenters, masons, scribes, blacksmiths, and all manner of laborers started to build.
The first thing to do was digging the foundations. Although most walls needed to be sunk into the ground for stability (and to prevent sapping), this was not the case when the walls were built on stone. With a rock-solid foundation, no sapper would be able to tunnel through, and the walls had the strongest foundation possible.
In planning a castle, all the latest technologies were taken into consideration. From practical things, like putting a well inside the walls, to ingenious attention to detail, like the direction a spiral staircase rotated, many things had to be thought out.
The outermost walls of the castle usually enclosed the town. A long, usually small wall, it was reinforced with U shaped towers every so often. Circular towers were placed at corners.
When the site for a castle was picked, quite a few factors were taken into consideration. Defensive terrain, location with respect to other towns, and richness of the land were just a few.
The quality of the land was a factor that determined how popular the new castle would be for economic reasons. Since serfs worked for the lord of the castle, making sure they had good ground to work was pretty important.
Caernarfon was one of a series of castles built by Master James of St. George. A huge gray castle located in Caernarfonshire, it was intended to help King Edward I keep control over the Welsh. Because of that, the castle did not always have a reputation as a friendly one. Looking at its huge gray bulk, that fact is not surprising.
Another one of William the Conqueror's castles, Warwick was originally a motte and bailey castle, just like Windsor. Built in 1068, from 1088 on the castle served as the home and symbol of power of the Earl of Warwick, one of the most important noblemen in Britain.
Warwick was rebuilt in stone in the 12th century, and has served in several of England's wars since then, for which the defenses were improved several times. Today, the castle is a tourist attraction, with many events and exhibits.
The Tower of London was William the Conqueror's display of power and prestige after his seizure of the English throne. Having devasted the countryside around London, and accepted the surrender of the city itself, he built a fortress right in the city to solidify his power.
Called the White Tower, it was surrounded by walls and ditches. The entire complex later became known as Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, but the White Tower, being the dominating feature, led to the name everyone uses today: The Tower of London.
Windsor Castle, now the largest inhabited castle in the world, was first built in the 11th Century. As part of William the Conqueror's new set of defenses, it guarded a critical part of the Thames River. Just like the other castles, it was never less than a day's march from a neighboring castle. William had designed this castle system to keep London in Norman hands, and the closely placed ring of castles allowed for quick and easy troop transfers from one location to another during seige.
Dunluce Castle was originally built in the 13th Century by Richard Og De Burgh. Over the years, it was in the possession of several different Scottish clans, including the MacQuillans and the MacDonalds.
Chateau Galliard was a castle built by King Richard “the Lionhearted.” Built in just over a year, completed in 1198, it was designed to deter King Philip Augustus of France from taking Normandy by its strength and location.
Settled on a curve of the river Seine, the Chateau Galliard stood on a cliff 100 meters about the river. It was only reachable by a strip of land leading to a platau nearby, and this was well-defended. Three enclosures with dry moats protected the castle from frontal attack. The keep itself stood perched on peninsular cliff that jutted out above the river.
Beaumaris Castle is the fortress of a lifetime. It was Master James of St. George’s masterpiece, a concentric castle built to withstand any and all attackers. The last in an iron circle of English castles, Beaumaris was commissioned by King Edward I in an effort to solidify his hold over the Welsh. By the time it was nearing completion, after 35 years of work, King Edward’s mind had gone elsewhere, and the funds for Beaumaris ran out.