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Top 6 Books about Castles


Nothing evokes a sense of our medieval past quite like a castle: the romantic structure that served as fortress, home and status symbol. The books below offer background history of castle evolution, architectural explorations, info about life in castles, how they were built and used for defense, and much more. They make great gifts for medieval history buffs, architecture students, and dreamers.

1. Castles & Fortresses

Castles & Fortresses
by Robin S. Oggins. This splendid tour of the castles of medieval Europe and beyond includes numerous breathtaking photos as well as useful historical background. Authoritative and enjoyable, it makes a great coffee table book.

2. Life in a Medieval Castle

Life in a Medieval Castle
by Joseph & Frances Gies. With their usual clarity, the Gieses provide a thorough overview of the history of the castle in England, exploring many aspects of daily life for all who lived within. Includes numerous black & white photos, a glossary of castle terms, a glossary of feudal terms, a geographical guide to medieval castles and an extensive bibliography.
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3. Castles: Their Construction & History

by Sidney Toy. A substantial, thorough, detailed investigation into the history of fortified structures from ancient times through the sixteenth century. Nearly 200 illustrations and photos illuminate construction principles, layouts and structural detail. Somewhat dry reading, but an invaluable resource that enthusiasts will find fascinating.
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4. Castle: Stephen Biesty's Cross Sections

by Richard Platt; illustrated by Stephen Biesty. Though designed for children, Biesty's wonderfully detailed illustrations make this a very useful resource for learning about living in a medieval castle as well as how it was constructed. Many topics are covered, including entertainment, the castle during a siege, and the skills of castle-dwellers. (Thanks go to Diana Cosby for recommending this book.)
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5. Castle at War: The Story of a Seige

by Andrew Langley; illustrated by Peter Dennis. In addition to offering a step-by-step look at how a siege was prepared and carried out, this beautifully produced DK Discoveries book includes info about various aspects of life in the castle. Though it is aimed at younger readers, adults will also appreciate the excellent images and find the information useful.

6. A Knight and His Castle

by Ewart Oakeshott. This slim volume, one of five in Oakeshott's Knight series, presents a vivid picture of the castle as a center of noble society. Well-written and nicely illustrated, it offers detailed information on castle buildings and the castle under siege, and includes a modest glossary
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