I'm doing research on the medieval castle, specifically what was required to build one. I'm particularly interested in learning about this from a medieval perspective, so I wondered if there are any manuals covering the construction of castles? Or even any other primary sources?

I am interested in England, but I'm open to less specific sources from other areas in Europe.

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    In the medieval period they hadn't (by definition) invented printing yet, and during the early period writing material itself was difficult to come by. Tradesmen were expected to learn their craft via apprenticeships, and didn't nessecarily know how to read. So how-to manuals weren't nearly as common as a modern person might expect. Still, there are some, so it is worth asking.
    – T.E.D.
    Mar 6 at 16:33
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    You might have more luck casting your search for books about building medieval churches and monasteries. Being a more "Godly" topic than civil works like castles and manor homes, the writing monks may be more inclined to devote valuable scribe time to the topic. Presumably a lot of features are common between them - "keep out the enemy" and "protect the important inside" and "last for generations"
    – Criggie
    Mar 7 at 1:06
  • @T.E.D. did engineers at the time use diagrams or architectural drawings of some kind? Mar 7 at 16:21
  • @shadowtalker - That would be another good question (we can use those!). My SWAG would be "No, and they didn't have "engineers" either. Just master masons.", but I haven't investigated it.
    – T.E.D.
    Mar 7 at 18:34
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    @shadowtalker Cologne Cathedral was completed in the 19th century after a detailed medieval construction drawing for the design of the West facade was found. From memory: ink on parchment, about 1.5x3 feet. I have previously come across high-resolution images of it, but my Google-fu seems to be weak today: A small image of it can be seen here.
    – njuffa
    Mar 8 at 10:09

1 Answer 1


You might be interested in Guedelon Castle, which is a project to rebuild a 13th Century castle from scratch using original methods. It's not exactly a manual, but it's probably as close as you are going to get.

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    Secrets of the Castle can be viewed on YouTube. youtube.com/watch?v=ydoRAbpWfCU
    – Phil Sweet
    Mar 6 at 22:39
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    There is also "Burgbau Friesach". A very similar project in Austria inspired by Guedelon.
    – blues
    Mar 7 at 9:21

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