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posted 03-21-2001 02:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for hiro   Click Here to Email hiro     Edit/Delete Message
What condition made castles cold, dark and damp?

Erik Schmidt
Senior Member
posted 03-22-2001 03:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Erik Schmidt   Click Here to Email Erik Schmidt     Edit/Delete Message
The Anglocentric condition!
Most castles were quite dark inside due to the lack of large windows, as these would have weakened the defensive role of the buldings.
Not all castles are cold and damp however. Imagine being in a crusader castle in the middle of a dry, hot summer. The castle will also be somewhat hot and dry.
Castles in the wetter and colder parts of Europe will tend to be cold and damp due to the weather just like houses of the time would also have been.
Added to this is the fact that keeping water from seeping through the unprotected stone walls was difficult and heating such large buildings with a large thermal mass inherent in their thick walls was also difficult.


posted 03-24-2001 12:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Levan   Click Here to Email Levan     Edit/Delete Message
Castles would not usually have been cold and damp - especially when compared to other dwellings of their era. Most of the public rooms had large fireplaces.

Thick walls also have the effect of keeping in the warm (assuming you have got the insides warm in the first place). In general, The thick walls have the effect of acting like an insulating layer (like a Thermos flask). Speaking as someone who actually lives in an ancient castle, I've found that even without the heating system running, the insides of the castle are coolish in the summer and warmer during the winter (compared to outside conditions).

One of the main reasons that castles seem cold and damp nowadays is because most of them are roofless and uninhabited (your house would feel cold if someone took the roof off and didn't heat it for 200 years). Once someone starts to live in a castle (and the doors are not wide open for constant streams of visitors) you'll soon find that it's kept very warm and cosy on the inside!

Eric's point about water seeping through the stone walls is also valid. However, castles built in wet climates such as Scotland were built with a protective coating on the outside walls called 'harling'. This looks a bit like pebble-dashing or concrete render, however, it's very different in that it's deliberately porus. It works like breathable fabric (such as gortex).

When castles were built they didn't use cavity walls and damp-proof courses as these wouldn't be strong enough. The way to stop walls getting damp on the inside was just to make them thicker and keep the insides very warm. The heat causing any damp to be expelled through to the outside of the walls. At Castle Levan, even when the outside wall is extremely wet, the inside stays dry. However, if you go into some of the mural staircases, which are cut into the thickness of the wall, you'll find that in winter, the wall nearest the outside of the building can sometimes get damp, whilst the other side is perfectly dry. Our mural staircases get damp because we do not have any heating in them.


[This message has been edited by Levan (edited 03-24-2001).]

posted 03-24-2001 01:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Levan   Click Here to Email Levan     Edit/Delete Message
Hmm, these questions have got a little cross-wired. There are answers to the same subject on the following forum topic:


posted 03-26-2001 01:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Peter   Click Here to Email Peter     Edit/Delete Message
Each building is different .. which seems a silly statement to make. And the state of any building depends on its upkeep, and in what type of climate it is situated.
I only live in a small Potters cottage, with a mere 2ft thickness of wall. Yet here I sit with the propane heating going full blast. There is a radiator bouncing hot not 3ft from my toes, yet I have an electric fan heater stopping them from freezing.
Our lounge is fine, with a nice stove gobbling up vast amounts of wood. And as at the moment I don't have any serfs .. I have to chop it all. That keeps we warm.
Not to mention the humidifior pulling pints of water out of the air everyday.
I have worked out that the size of a stone building that you wish to live in, should be in proportion to the size of heating bill you can afford to pay (or fuel you can get your hands on).
ie. I live in a small cottage !
Or, perhaps good quality thermal underwear !
Roll on the barmy days of summer.

posted 04-05-2001 01:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Levan   Click Here to Email Levan     Edit/Delete Message
For the record, my heating bill at Castle Levan is 170 per month during the winter, and 15 per month during the summer. Figures in UK Pounds Sterling.

On top of this is a fair amount of logs used to heat the Great Hall. That said, these are not really needed for background warmth - the log fires are really for atmosphere. I have to confess to leaving the doors open to allow the excess heat to disipate up the stair wells which are not otherwise heated.


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