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Merlin
Senior Member
posted 04-08-2008 04:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Merlin   Click Here to Email Merlin     Edit/Delete Message
Going through my books recently I wondered when round castle-towers first appeared in the differnt parts of the medieval world. In Switzerland, they have been very common in the 13th century in the western parts of the country, under the reign of the counts of Savoy. I know that Peter of Savoy had strong connections to the royal family of England at that time...
When did round towers first appear in France? In England? In Romania etc.?

Thanks for some input.

Edward
Member
posted 04-10-2008 01:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Edward     Edit/Delete Message
Hi Merlin,
No doubt everyone is digging into their reference books as I type.
Just back from the Castle Studies Conference, where we saw a few excellent round towers.
I take it you mean round towers as Keeps, not just a wall tower?
There is a an excellent chapter in John Kenyon's 'Medieval Fortifications' on masonry keeps, which discusses their origins and dating.
Will have a read of it later.
See book section for further Kenyon mention.
Edward

Merlin
Senior Member
posted 04-11-2008 03:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Merlin   Click Here to Email Merlin     Edit/Delete Message
I'm interested in the first appearance of round Walltowers as well.

I know the romans built half-round-towers at the walls of some of their castellums, but I don't know if there have been any round castle-towers in England or on the continent before 1200 AD. Any examples would be welcome.

Edward
Member
posted 04-11-2008 08:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Edward     Edit/Delete Message
Hi Merlin,
Kenyon gave plenty of examples, but no firm dates. Next best source is R Allen Brown, with his book 'English Castles'. So better settle down for a long type;
page 78 onwards;
Thus with stone keeps we find, on the one hand, that the rectangular form stubbornly persists to the end of the Middle Ages and long after 1200 both in England and in France (Vincennes), even though at about that date, in the France of the royal demesne and those provinces which he had acquired from John of England, Philip Augustus was raising cylindrical donjons in his castles like a trade-mark or a sign of royal lordship (Chateaudun, Gisors, Falaise, Chinon, Rouen, Lillebonne, Verneuil, Dourdan). On the other hand, in France we find the cylindrical form at least from the early twelfth century and from a date before some of the finest twelfth-century rectangular keeps were built.
Thus Freteval, near Vendome and in the county of Blois, though it may not retain its traditional date of 1040, yet cannot be more than a century later. Again the round keep on the motte of Chateau-sur-Ept on the borders of Normandy is attributed to Henry I (duke of Normandy & King of England) and to a date of c.1130-35. The same Henry I is responsible for the great rectangular keeps of Caen, Falaise, Arques and Domfront in Normandy, and clearly cannot have regarded those as obsolescent when he built them. Further, the peculiarly shaped keeps at Houdan and Etampes, for example, which are transitional between square and round but, rather, derivations from the latter - the one cylindrical with cylindrical buttresses, the other quadrilobe - are both given dates in the first half of the twelfth century (1100-1125 and 1130-50 respectively).
In England, as in ducal Normandy (though there Conches is a further twelfth century example), the cylindrical type of donjon seems never to have become very popular. Most examples are to be found in Wales and the Marches - Bronllys (c.1176), Longtown (c. 1180-95), Pembroke (c. 1200), Tretower and Skenfrith (both early 13th C) amongst others - but not all, for we have Conisborough (c. 1180) in Yorkshire, Barnard Castle 9c. 1200), in County Durham and Launceston - early to mid 13th C.
end of quote.
We managed to visit Bronllys, Skenfrith & Tretower last week, and have visited Pembroke in the past.
Perhaps something of interest there?
Will check further for you.

Cheers Peter

Merlin
Senior Member
posted 04-11-2008 09:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Merlin   Click Here to Email Merlin     Edit/Delete Message
Hi Peter,
many thanks for your research! That is indeed very interesting. Have to look up Freteval in Blois/France... Eudes I. of Blois tried to get the crown of Burgundy at 1032 AD but lost his war against the emperor after two years. It took place exactly were the counts of Savoy (they fought on the side of the emperor) began to build the first round towers in Switzerland.

Edward
Member
posted 04-12-2008 06:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Edward     Edit/Delete Message
Merlin,
regarding the Romans ... many towers on the walls of Rome were altered to rounded fronts. I did do a little booklet some years ago when I walked the walls.
I have just upgraded this, if you would like a copy please let me know?
Peter

Merlin
Senior Member
posted 04-14-2008 04:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Merlin   Click Here to Email Merlin     Edit/Delete Message
Peter, I sure would like to have a copy!
Do you know when they altered the towers of the Aurelian wall?

Here in Zurich the romans built a castellum under emperor Valentinian I. ( 375) with 10 towers, some of them with rounded outside-fronts.

ipflo
Moderator
posted 04-17-2008 04:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ipflo   Click Here to Email ipflo     Edit/Delete Message
Interesting question. In the Netherlands the first stone castles were roundshaped (fine examples the castle of Leiden, and the old castle at Egmond). Later on they became rectangular. However when round castle towers appear in the Netherland, I do not know, while thinking over it, I can remember more and more examples in the Netherlands (Both Muiderslot and Brederode had round shaped castle towers, besides rectangular towers). But since when exactly, probaly also from around the 1300s.

ipflo

Edward
Member
posted 04-19-2008 10:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Edward     Edit/Delete Message
Round towers of course do not require any ashlar dressing for corners, only around any openings, plus they would deflect missiles much better.
Which you no doubt know.
I suppose there was this sense of whether to be better in a military sense, or build square/oblong which in a sense would give you greater freedom for your interior rooms.
Peter

AJR
Senior Member
posted 04-21-2008 05:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for AJR     Edit/Delete Message
Rochester Castle being a case in point here, which had one of it's square towers undermined, and replaced with a round one.

All times are PT (US)

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