In medieval times, castle architects incorporated a variety of defenses and traps intended to slow, injure or kill attackers in order to hold the castle as long as possible, against even the largest attacking armies. Here are a few examples of those designs.

(Click to enlarge)

Castle Traps and Defenses

Don’t forget to tune-in for an all-new episode of Doomsday Castle, tonight at 10 e/p! Learn more about what preps the family will be working on.

Comments

  1. Polis Agora
    Usa
    August 29, 2013, 12:38 pm

    That’s not a real fort. That guy just conned his kids in to finishing his house. A
    castle design like that went out in the Middle Ages. There are too many dead spots
    along the base of the walls where the defenders have to lean over the walls to shoot at
    them. Leaning out over the walls makes them easy pickings for snipers. Let me tell you
    about fort building.

    Look at the Old Spanish fort in St. Augustine to see what the real thing should look
    like:
    http://kids.britannica.com/elementary/art-90392
    This is a Vauban type fort, the standard for about 200 years. Notice that with those
    pointed corners every part of the wall is covered from some other part of the wall. Look
    at the V shape in front of it. That’s the gatehouse. If you are in front of it you are
    in crossfire and if you are behind it you are still in crossfire. If you do break in you
    are in a kill box, taking fire from all the interior walls. The outer moat once had
    earth mounds all around so you could not get a direct shot at the walls with cannon. The
    cannon on the walls could still fire at about all they see. By the way you cant make this kind of fort with the Doomsday castle game; it wont let you make diagonal lines.
    OK so how do you take that Doomsday fort? You do it with cannon. You don’t need a tank
    just a simple gun will do. Look here at two civil war cannon and a home brew job: http://
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTye9JuOhSk
    These could make that doomsday fort with its big windows, in to Swiss cheese fast. There
    are lots of them around. You can make one pretty easy if you know what you are doing.
    OK for the sake of argument say that you don’t have cannon. You have to go old school.
    Get a shield about the size of a single car garage door, heavily reinforced. Get a crew
    with picks and shovels, water food and small arms. They will carry the shield. Leading
    edge down up to one of those dead spots on the wall then they will tilt it up so it is
    leaning on the wall. The defenders can’t shoot at them direct and they are protected from
    anything they throw over the walls. Then they dig. They mine under the wall
    foundations. In particular at the corners till the tower falls. Then you rush the
    place. Look up Caerlaverock castle to see a real place where something like that
    happened. See how they went for one corner first. That’s how you do it.
    OK so happy apocalypse. Id say get artillery and learn how to use it to survive. I have
    not yet seen a prepper fort yet that would not be a death trap. You need to call for
    help if you are attacked. That means alliances with other forts nearby. Those can shift
    around fast depending on family feuds, etc. Welcome back to the Middle Ages. It will be,
    as the British say “incredibly gritty.”

  2. Polis Agora
    August 29, 2013, 12:44 pm

    Can i edit my last post? Ipad has really clumsy text editing.

  3. Polis Agora
    USA
    August 29, 2013, 11:38 pm

    I didnt like my last post– it needed editing. It was written while watching TV on an Ipad on my knees so of course it was too choppy. Here is what I really have to say aboout Doomsday Castle:

    The “Doomsday Castle” is not a real fort. That guy just conned his kids in to finishing his house. Castle designs like that went out in the Middle Ages. There are too many dead spots along the base of the walls where the defenders have to lean over the walls to shoot at the attackers. Leaning out over the walls makes defenders easy pickings for snipers. There are also too many windows. Let me tell you about fort building. I do know a lot about obsolete military tactics. First look at the Old Spanish fort in St. Augustine to see what a real fort should look like:http://kids.britannica.com/elementary/art-90392This is a Vauban type fort, the standard for about 200 years. It is what replaced the castles when guns came in. Notice that with pointed corners every part of the wall is covered from some other part of the wall. Look at the V shape in front of it. That’s the gatehouse. If you are in front of that gatehouse you are in crossfire and if you are behind it you are still in crossfire. If you do break in you are in a kill box, taking fire from all the interior walls. The distance from the tip of one pointed corner to the nearest wall is the effective range of your guns. The outer moat once had earth mounds all around so you could not get a direct shot at the walls with cannon. The cannons on the walls could still fire at about all they see. It is take able, but you need a complicated siege to do it. With modern weapons you can hit it with indirect fire, then you have to have hard roofs. Look at Ft. Vaux, from WWI to see that. OK so how do you take the TV Doomsday Castle ? You do it with cannon. You don’t need a tank, just simple artillery will do. Look here at two civil war cannon and a home brew job that could all make Swiss cheese out of “Doomsday Castle”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTye9JuOhSkThere is also an episode of R. Lee Army’s “Lock and Load” Where he had Civil War Re enactors put 3-inch holes in a cinderblock wall from across a field. Heck the 100 years war ended when the French King got cannons and quickly knocked out all the English castles in his territory. There are lots of these things around. You can make one pretty easy if you know what you are doing. OK for the sake of argument say that you don’t have cannon. Then you have to go old school. Get a shield about the size of a two car garage door, heavily reinforced. Put it on a frame so it can roll and tilt up and down. Get a crew with picks and shovels, water food and small arms. They will push and carry the shield to one of those dead spots on the wall. The leading edge will be down on the approach then they will tilt it up so it is leaning on the wall. The defenders can’t shoot at them direct and they are protected from anything they throw over the walls. Then they dig. They throw the earth out to the sides of the shield for additional cover. Soon they will be in a trench next to the wall. They will mine till they are under the wall foundations. They work under the tower corners till it falls. If it is a big job then a trench is dug right up to the shield to relieve the workers and perhaps to bring in explosives. When the tower id down you rush the place. Moats were invented to prevent undermining like that. Look at Caerlaverock castle to see a real place where something like that happened. It was a triangle, which is a terrible design. You can see it on the current Doomsday castle site. See how they went for one corner first? I don’t want to know what happened to the defenders after that. OK so happy apocalypse! I’d say get artillery and learn how to use it to survive. I have not yet seen a prepper fort yet that would not be a death trap, particularly the ones made from cargo containers. A fort is a way for a small number of people to hold back a larger group till help can arrive. Any other plan is eventual suicide. Look at Harlech Castle. The Welsh held out against the English for eight years, and then fell. The Welsh National Anthem, “Men of Harlech” tells the story. Heck, look at the Lord of the Rings movies where they tried to defend “Helm’s Deep”. Unless you have help coming avoid putting yourself in that situation. That means you have a network of alliances with other forts nearby. Alliances depend on politics, which can shift around fast depending on family feuds, etc. Welcome back to the Middle Ages. It will be, as the British say, “Incredibly gritty”.

  4. Randy Guimond
    Canada
    September 2, 2013, 11:17 am

    WRT the firstr episode of “Doomsday Castle”, I’m in total disbelief over the lack of common sense displayed by the cast. Without pointing out all the flaws in the designs, here are a few of the most obvious:

    1. I understand the logic behind choosing the lightest sheet metal to clad the drawbridge, but once they realized that a .308 would penetrate it, they should have placed it on the inside of the oak planks. The splinters alone coming from the oak when the bullets penetrated the steel could be lethal. Also, placing the heads of the cladding screws on the outside of the door make it easy for an enemy to remove the cladding.
    2. Exopsing and part of a hinge to the enemy is ridiculous. The brackets they used to secure the hinge pin can be removed by an enemy using a wrench.
    3. The “block and tackle” is reallly a chain hoist. Rather than using a counterweight on one side of the door and the hoist on the other, why didn’t they use a bridle to connect both chains and connect the hoist to the bridle so it pulled evenly on each chain?
    4. The bar securing the man door is a good idea, but removing the pull handle from the outside of the door would be a lot smarter. Testing bar with a battering ram from the outside did absolutely nothing. The door closes IN, against the frame. Pushing in on the door actually reduces the load on the bar. It’s a good way to test the door frame. though!
    5. Using a handfull of self-tapping screws to attach the “battering ram” to the hood of the lawn tractor is ridiculous. The screws would have simply sheared off or pulled out of the hood. At least he didn’r sit on the tractor when he rammed the door.
    6. Strapping logs to the farm tractor was also ridiculous.

  5. Steve Jenkins
    Canada
    September 5, 2013, 12:49 pm

    Please stop show these shows or put them on Saturday morning with the cartoons.
    I watched as the kids arrived climbing up a slope to get to the castle as if there is no road in. I knew right away this show is in trouble. Sure enough there is a road but the writers wanted some drama. Shame on National Geographic. As for building a castle to protect themselves makes no sense at all. It’s like advertising your position instead of concealing it. Everybody now knows where this place is. National Geo needs to focus on reality not fiction.

  6. Gary
    USA
    September 26, 2013, 3:30 am

    I’m studied castles since a child and found so much wrong with their design. The walls are very thin in my opinion. I’d have chosen an outer and inner stone walls with 20-30 feet of compacted earth. Earth is a great insulator and when compacted is very resilient. Next, square towers went out with the invention of cannons and switched to round to minimize the effect on them. Those who do not study history and doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. My next complaint is a lack of a true gatehouse. A gatehouse was the strongest part of a castle. Very few tried to go through the front door, they were death traps. Their entrance is lower than their main walls allowing them to be scaled easier.

    Now with all that said, why haven’t they considered modern conveniences. Helix wind power is perfect for castle walls. Micro hydro power is feasible at a 70 foot height or using compressed water. Radiant floors using warm or heated water to warm the castle. Panic rooms instead of a bunker. Greenhouse on roof to grow food using soilless techniques. I was also surprised they haven’t mentioned stocking their moat with fish. Water tower to collect rainwater possibly sent to a basement storage. Waterless composting toliets seem a good idea or collect the methane for additional power. The Ben Franklin stove is still considered ultra efficient. Hydrogen storage for more power. The Faraday cage is used to shield electronic equipment so all you then need is shielded cable. They even started distilling alcohol.

    I just don’t see the need to go completely medieval considering they own firearms. Bullets and gunpowder will become rare, yet they haven’t yet thought, “If I put multiple 10-20 lbs rocks on the parapet, I can drop them on intruders.”

    Speaking of castle defenses, why build a catapult when a ballista/scorpion would be more useful. Mythbusters built a repeating ballista.

    So much on this show could be much better.

  7. smurf
    smurfville
    December 16, 2013, 6:20 pm

    I love you.

  8. chinta
    canada
    March 27, 11:08 am

    lol

  9. g
    usa
    March 27, 11:20 am

    m studied castles since a child and found so much wrong with their design. The walls are very thin in my opinion. I’d have chosen an outer and inner stone walls with 20-30 feet of compacted earth. Earth is a great insulator and when compacted is very resilient. Next, square towers went out with the invention of cannons and switched to round to minimize the effect on them. Those who do not study history and doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. My next complaint is a lack of a true gatehouse. A gatehouse was the strongest part of a castle. Very few tried to go through the front door, they were death traps. Their entrance is lower than their main walls allowing them to be scaled easier.

    Now with all that said, why haven’t they considered modern conveniences. Helix wind power is perfect for castle walls. Micro hydro power is feasible at a 70 foot height or using compressed water. Radiant floors using warm or heated water to warm the castle. Panic rooms instead of a bunker. Greenhouse on roof to grow food using soilless techniques. I was also surprised they haven’t mentioned stocking their moat with fish. Water tower to collect rainwater possibly sent to a basement storage. Waterless composting toliets seem a good idea or collect the methane for additional power. The Ben Franklin stove is still considered ultra efficient. Hydrogen storage for more power. The Faraday cage is used to shield electronic equipment so all you then need is shielded cable. They even started distilling alcohol.

    I just don’t see the need to go completely medieval considering they own firearms. Bullets and gunpowder will become rare, yet they haven’t yet thought, “If I put multiple 10-20 lbs rocks on the parapet, I can drop them on intruders.”

    Speaking of castle defenses, why build a catapult when a ballista/scorpion would be more useful. Mythbusters built a repeating ballista.

    So much on this show could be much better.

  10. g
    March 27, 11:21 am

    p show these shows or put them on Saturday morning with the cartoons.
    I watched as the kids arrived climbing up a slope to get to the castle as if there is no road in. I knew right away this show is in trouble. Sure enough there is a road but the writers wanted some drama. Shame on National Geographic. As for building a castle to protect themselves makes no sense at all. It’s like advertising your position instead of concealing it. Everybody now knows where this place is. National Geo needs to focus on reality not fiction.
    Gary
    USA
    September 26, 2013, 3:30 am

    I’m studied castles since a child and found so much wrong with their design. The walls are very thin in my opinion. I’d have chosen an outer and inner stone walls with 20-30 feet of compacted earth. Earth is a great insulator and when compacted is very resilient. Next, square towers went out with the invention of cannons and switched to round to minimize the effect on them. Those who do not study history and doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. My next complaint is a lack of a true gatehouse. A gatehouse was the strongest part of a castle. Very few tried to go through the front door, they were death traps. Their entrance is lower than their main walls allowing them to be scaled easier.

    Now with all that said, why haven’t they considered modern conveniences. Helix wind power is perfect for castle walls. Micro hydro power is feasible at a 70 foot height or using compressed water. Radiant floors using warm or heated water to warm the castle. Panic rooms instead of a bunker. Greenhouse on roof to grow food using soilless techniques. I was also surprised they haven’t mentioned stocking their moat with fish. Water tower to collect rainwater possibly sent to a basement storage. Waterless composting toliets seem a good idea or collect the methane for additional power. The Ben Franklin stove is still considered ultra efficient. Hydrogen storage for more power. The Faraday cage is used to shield electronic equipment so all you then need is shielded cable. They even started distilling alcohol.

    I just don’t see the need to go completely medieval considering they own firearms. Bullets and gunpowder will become rare, yet they haven’t yet thought, “If I put multiple 10-20 lbs rocks on the parapet, I can drop them on intruders.”

    Speaking of castle defenses, why build a catapult when a ballista/scorpion would be more useful. Mythbusters built a repeating ballista.

    So much on this show could be much better.
    smurf
    smurfville
    December 16, 2013, 6:20 pm

    I love you.
    g
    usa
    11:20 am

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    m studied castles since a child and found so much wrong with their design. The walls are very thin in my opinion. I’d have chosen an outer and inner stone walls with 20-30 feet of compacted earth. Earth is a great insulator and when compacted is very resilient. Next, square towers went out with the invention of cannons and switched to round to minimize the effect on them. Those who do not study history and doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. My next complaint is a lack of a true gatehouse. A gatehouse was the strongest part of a castle. Very few tried to go through the front door, they were death traps. Their entrance is lower than their main walls allowing them to be scaled easier.

    Now with all that said, why haven’t they considered modern conveniences. Helix wind power is perfect for castle walls. Micro hydro power is feasible at a 70 foot height or using compressed water. Radiant floors using warm or heated water to warm the castle. Panic

  11. jwittz
    usa
    March 27, 11:23 am

    good info! Thanks!

  12. pewdiepie
    uk
    March 27, 11:28 am

    Muder holes? EPIC! Good information!