Medieval Castle Architecture

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
5,644
Portugal
#2
In many castle walls, there are holes for wooden beams, often used for hoardings.
I can’t give a full answer to your question, I don’t know the building in the picture, but we must realise that the ruins that we see today of a “Medieval” building represent often a building that was used during several centuries and that had mutations over the centuries (both destructions and constructions). That means that the holes that we see now could be made centuries apart.

That really poses a problem when reconstructions are made. The reconstruction team must decide according to what century, what time period, the reconstruction will be made. So, depending on the decision, we can have quite different outcomes.

So, specifically to your question “What do this mean, and to what purpose?”

The holes could be made on different times. Years, decades, centuries appart. Different enlargements, wooden constructions could have been made. And we must recall that the wood resists much less that the stone, so the changes occur more often.
 
Jan 2015
2,946
MD, USA
#3
As I understand it, many of those are "putlog holes", to literally put a log into to support scaffolding during construction. Of course all the scaffolding was removed upon completion, but they didn't bother to fill in the holes. No idea why the holes in different rows would be such different sizes, though, sorry!

Matthew
 
Feb 2019
30
Denmark
#4
I can’t give a full answer to your question, I don’t know the building in the picture, but we must realise that the ruins that we see today of a “Medieval” building represent often a building that was used during several centuries and that had mutations over the centuries (both destructions and constructions). That means that the holes that we see now could be made centuries apart.

That really poses a problem when reconstructions are made. The reconstruction team must decide according to what century, what time period, the reconstruction will be made. So, depending on the decision, we can have quite different outcomes.

So, specifically to your question “What do this mean, and to what purpose?”

The holes could be made on different times. Years, decades, centuries appart. Different enlargements, wooden constructions could have been made. And we must recall that the wood resists much less that the stone, so the changes occur more often.
This castle had in-fact at least three building phases. But the thing I don't understand about the holes is that, if they were used for wooden battlements or bretéche, they usually would align symmetrically with the lower and upper part.
For example, the lower smaller holes would align perfectly with the upper larger holes.

Only exception I can think of would be the fact that when you combine one wooden beam to another, the width of the second wooden beam would correspond roughly to the length between the lower and upper holes.
In other words, they wouldn't be aligned symmetrically (vertically), rather they'd be shifted slightly to one side or the other.

As I understand it, many of those are "putlog holes", to literally put a log into to support scaffolding during construction. Of course all the scaffolding was removed upon completion, but they didn't bother to fill in the holes. No idea why the holes in different rows would be such different sizes, though, sorry!

Matthew
Some of the holes are clearly for scaffolding, but others are too big for that purpose. It seems like they're being used as a wooden bretéche.
 

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
4,669
Australia
#5
The support beams in the walls at lower levels are supported by scaffolding that is resting on the ground. Once you get to a certain height the scaffolding on the ground can no longer reach so all the scaffolding has to be anchored to the walls. You need much larger support beams when they have to bear the entire load. It doesn't happen in every case because not all scaffolding was the same. Some systems could be supported from the ground at greater heights. Some of the larger holes would have been used for winches to lift loads up to the construction site.
 
Last edited:
Likes: BuckBradley
Oct 2015
364
Belfast
#8
In many castle walls, there are holes for wooden beams, often used for hoardings.

But looking a this picture:


Source: Fil:Burg Hammershus 3.jpg - Wikipedia, den frie encyklopædi

I see the holes are not placed symmetrically. And some of the holes are small, others are large. What do this mean, and to what purpose?
They're what's known as "putlog holes". So-called because the castle builders "put logs in holes" as a form of scaffolding in aid of the castle's construction. If you Google pictures of Conwy Castle in North Wales, you'll see them in a spiral pattern in the castle towers.
 

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
4,669
Australia
#9
They're what's known as "putlog holes". So-called because the castle builders "put logs in holes" as a form of scaffolding in aid of the castle's construction. If you Google pictures of Conwy Castle in North Wales, you'll see them in a spiral pattern in the castle towers.
He knows what putlog holes are. He asked why the holes were much bigger near the top of the construction in the above photo because they don't resemble the scaffolding holes closer to the ground.
 
Feb 2019
30
Denmark
#10
Thanks for all the replies. Assuming these putlock holes were used for scaffolding, I now know how to digitally reconstruct the tower.

That really poses a problem when reconstructions are made. The reconstruction team must decide according to what century, what time period, the reconstruction will be made. So, depending on the decision, we can have quite different outcomes.
I intend to do a reconstruction of the developments and time periods of the tower.
 
Likes: Olleus

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