So, my question Where and how do I build a castle? got closed.

Probably because it was thought to be a dupe of:

My aim is to understand how castles were planned and built, down to the last detail (books & URLS are very welcome).

To that end, I would like to propose a series of questions, and my question here is whether this would be acceptable.

Here are some topics, from the top of my head. I imagine that more may be added later and that answers may lead to further questions.

I have a vision of an epic question chain, lasting for months, maybe longer, with one focused question per week, building on previous answers, until we understand out castle in the minutest detail.

Feel free to add more questions, re-order them or just plain say this series of questions is off-topic or uninteresting.

  • how many will attack me? Probably based on medieval history. How large would armies have been? How many of them can attack me at once? There is not much having 300,000 warriors if there are only enough walls for only 1,000 to attack simultaneously. However, they will also need archers, siege canon, such as trebuchet, etc. Perhaps they work in shifts, relived as men get tired? Cavalry to quell the local populace and cut off supply lines? Medics, cooks, drovers, etc, etc? We probably don't need to consider the non-combatants (other than that they need supplies, and perhaps insomuch as anyone can swing a sword when attacked)

  • for how long must I withstand siege, if it comes to that, until an army is raised and help arrives? (since there are no standing armies). How long does it take to raise, arm & equip, train(?) enough to defeat the number of attackers from the first question? Hmm, how long can they besiege me, given an "average" supply chain (whatever that is)?

  • the purpose of my castle? I will state that, although comments might be welcome. It is a sally point for a garrison. If any army passes with X miles on either side, we can sally forth and assail them. It also forces any passing army to stop sand engage, since they will not want to leave a garrisoned castle at their rear. When they stop, either the castle can attack, or an allied army can attack the besiegers from the rear.

  • who else is in my castle, other than the garrison? I suspect that there will be a fixed number of some positions, such as the actual castle lord, and a variable number, based on the garrison size, of others, e.g cooks, medics, smiths, armorers, fletchers .... and probably more professions. How many people in total in the castle? (and, do I want to allot space for peasants from the surrounding countryside?)

  • what supplies do I need for all of these? Water, food (livestock (cattle, sheep, goats, chickens), grain, preserved foodstuffs? Water and fodder for the livestock? Do I slaughter & salt the livestock, except for necessary horses at the start of the siege?

  • which buildings are necessary for all of the above? I seek an exhaustive list, right down to the toilets, with sizes, and hopefully we can draw a floorplan. This gives us a feel for the necessary size of the castle. Let's start with HQ, armoury, medical bay, chapel(?), smithy, tanner(?), storage for food, water, animals, sleeping quarters, timber, leather, .... ?

  • where to site the castle? If we have free range, do we build on top of a hill? That's good to tire attackers, makes it difficult/impossible to bring up siege engines (towers, trebuchet, etc). If there is a rock base, they won't be able to tunnel and undermine the walls. But, a hill means very deep wells, possibly dug through rock, to have access to water. Unless we build near a river, but what are the pros/cons of that? Genghis Khan diverted a river to flood a city; could a similar approach undermine our walls?

  • given the approximate known size of the populace and buildings, we have the size of the inner walls. Do we only have one set, or is there a fallback a Bailey ? Or two, so that each can defend the other? How many ad why?

  • how height should the walls be, and how thick? If we accommodate some form of catapult, that might determine the thickness, as would the damage doable by attacking artillery ( I am going to say that there is no gunpowder). We may also want a certain number of rows of defenders on the walls, plus stores of ammunition, etc.

How many staircases lead up to the walls? Enclosed or open? How far apart? Do they need to built near to certain buildings, or vice versa?

If am not building on rock, how deep do the walls go beneath ground in order to prevent or hinder tunneling?

  • how may towers do I need in order to enfilade the attackers? How far apart are they? How tall? How many defending archers or other troops can be active at once (those little slit windows won't allow many archers per floor to fire at once)). Should they be as tall as the walls, or butt out at the top (with holes in the bottom)?

  • one entrance only? Easier to defend, but limits sally possibilities. The more entrances, the more flexibility, but the more attack points. How to construct the gates? Iron reinforced wood? Portcullis? One gate, or two, with murder holes between.

  • If on flat ground, do we need a moat? How wide, deep? Ditch or water filled? Stakes/caltrops at the bottom?

Errrm, that's probably enough to give a feel for it. I could write more, but may just bore you. I think that there is enough here to decide whether this could be a meaningful series of questions or not.

Comments, suggestions, criticism?

  • $\begingroup$ We have a sandbox for the very purpose of improving questions, Give it a try $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch Mod
    Mar 20, 2021 at 9:55
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry to be dumb, but where is it? Also, this is not yet a question, just a proposal for a series of questions. Would it really ft into the sandbox? $\endgroup$
    – Mawg
    Mar 20, 2021 at 11:01
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I gave you links to four books in the comments to your castle building question. Two of them go to freely available books on Archive.org. Have you read them? Do you still have questions? $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Mar 22, 2021 at 2:21
  • $\begingroup$ I am in the process. I don't read that quickly :-) If/when I have questions, I will return. Thanks $\endgroup$
    – Mawg
    Mar 22, 2021 at 8:06
  • $\begingroup$ Sandbox for Proposed Questions $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    Mar 29, 2021 at 11:22
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Is this better addressed on the history SE? For a simple book that's surprisingly good, look at Castle by David Macaulay directed at kids but really good. Probably at the library. There was an animated movie version you might be able to find on line somewhere amazon.com/Castle-Revised-Color-David-Macaulay/dp/0544102266 $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Mar 29, 2021 at 19:43
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks (+1). I am aware of the book, and the animation is easy to find on eBay. I originally thought that we could have a "let's explore this together & have fun designing it" sort of thing, which fits better here that in stuffy ole history ;-) Now I see that it has to be a series of questions, and, yes, the factual "how did it happen in real life" ones are probably better for history. I am not sure how they would like that, so will ask in their meta, as I did here -> $\endgroup$
    – Mawg
    Mar 30, 2021 at 8:00
  • $\begingroup$ -> although, I may well come back here, either from time to time, or at the end, for the creativity which this site offers. My S.O reckons that I should spend a few years, research thoroughly, and write a book / code a program. I am not sure that there is any market in it, but the sheer enjoyment of doing it would be reward enough. I suppose that I _could_ offer a castle building service in Second Life, if I wanted to monetize the reach, but doubt if they would pay for accuracy :-) $\endgroup$
    – Mawg
    Mar 30, 2021 at 8:04

1 Answer 1


Yes... and no...

Any question that is appropriately scoped and meets the description of a good question as found in the Help Center is valid. So, asking dozens or a hundred questions to discover how to build a castle is certainly on-topic.

But it's important to understand the nature of Stack Exchange. This may sound a bit brutal, and I apologize, but it's important.

We're not a free research service.

I can't find the statement on Stack Exchange meta right now, but Stack Exchange is expected to be the last place you look for an answer. You're expected to research your topic first and use SE as a means to fill in what you can't learn on your own.

From that perspective, asking a bazillion questions looking to understand the details of castle construction may be on-topic — but it won't be appreciated. Not only does it indicate that you're unwilling to do your own research, but people will quickly grow tired of the incessant questions.

If you roll your mouse over the down-vote arrow, you'll discover the following text: "This question does not show any research effort...." Asking a lengthy series of questions will get you down-voted, and down-votes matter on Stack Exchange. The under-the-hood automatics will eventually suspend your account. You want to avoid down-votes where you can and doing your own research is method #1.

So, long story short... please avail yourself of the great many resources on the Internet that describe the art and science of castle making. They're out there, I've read quite a number of them myself. And after you've completed your research, if there's still a question or two you need help with, we'd be delighted to help.

Help Center quotes that support this answer:

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the brutality :-) Very castelish. I have been around S.E long enough to appreciate that. How about, instead of just asking a blank question "how large should my garrison be/which buildings do I need & how large/etc", I post my thoughts on the matter with logic, and ask for critique? Would that fly? At the moment, I am rereading alarge collection of books on castles. I have also visited many, over the decades. My problem is that I can see what was built, but there is very rarely an explanation of why? --> $\endgroup$
    – Mawg
    Mar 22, 2021 at 8:16
  • $\begingroup$ --> Does the buttery really need to be near to the armoury? And what governs its size? Does it need natural daylight? What determines whether we need dungeons, and of what type? I really want a castle builder's manual, and am considering writing one. So, if I explain my logic in a series of questions and ask people if it is flawed, would that be on topic? --> $\endgroup$
    – Mawg
    Mar 22, 2021 at 8:16
  • $\begingroup$ --> A series of questions, because am a programmer, and, to me, this is a design exercise. We start with a few requirements, and these lead to a design, each step building upon the previous. In fact, if I can discover some castle building rules, I can code a design our castle app, with validation. Which I would, of course, open source. $\endgroup$
    – Mawg
    Mar 22, 2021 at 8:16
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @MawgsaysreinstateMonica, Check out the reality-check tag. In a nutshell, its purpose is to propose a circumstance or rule and ask us if that's consistent with the known rules of your world. It requires you to explain the affected rules of your world, but it's the closest we come to a discussion or critique. Otherwise, as I said, so long as your Q's meet the expectation of the help center, fire away. Just keep that issue of respondent-fatigue-leading-to-down-voting in mind. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Mar 22, 2021 at 8:37
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, I will go away now and read / watch videos for a few months, maybe years, then come back if I need more help. Thanks again for your help so far. $\endgroup$
    – Mawg
    Mar 22, 2021 at 8:52
  • $\begingroup$ I don't recall a rule about how "Stack Exchange should be the last place you look for an answer". I always thought that was Yahoo Answers! More to that point, it seems like a very short distance from that to saying that Stack Exchange is not a place where you should look for answers to questions at all. $\endgroup$ Mar 25, 2021 at 22:37
  • $\begingroup$ @MikeSerfas As I said, I've not found the Meta Stack Exchange post where it was established. But, if you want corroboration... (a) Have you thoroughly searched for an answer before asking your question?, (b) Downvote questions that don't show any research effort.... (c) General guidelines for all questions: ...Should include research.... I'll add those to the answer. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Mar 26, 2021 at 0:11
  • $\begingroup$ The first says that for a good question, "have you thoroughly searched for an answer", with a direct link to the StackExchange search. That appears to ward off duplicate questions, nothing more. The second speaks of downvotes, which is quality rating, not closing. And the third provides three MUSTs, then a should: "Should include research: What ideas have you considered, or what information have you already looked at or failed to find?" Observe it says that considering ideas counts as research. None of these say anything like "last place you look". $\endgroup$ Mar 26, 2021 at 1:47
  • $\begingroup$ @MikeSerfas Believe what you want, Mike. I know what I read and people are supposed to do their own research before coming here. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Mar 26, 2021 at 5:09

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