Medieval castle - Norman style

Updated: September 20, 2006; April 30, 2011

I'm a great fan of medieval things - history, cultures (or their lack thereof), literature, but most of all the heraldry, weapons and architecture. For some obscure reason, words like glaive, coif or bailey appeal to my twisted sense of taste. Recently, I have begun drawing a number of castles. So far, there are four castles ready for exhibition. I have loosely based the first one on English architecture. It's a fairly massive castle, with solid curtain walls, five corner towers, a fat keep, and a moat. King Arthur would probably feel at home inside. One of the cool things about Google SketchUp is that any textured image can be used as a paint. Indeed, after downloading a number of images of masonry and roofing material, I have found some to my liking.

I must confess that I did refer to the Google SketchUp 3D Warehouse for some nuisance items like crates and barrels that I felt were too unimportant to spend time working on - which, I must admit, add a nice touch to the overall impression. Since I have completed this project quite long ago, I can no longer accurately recall all of the names of people who should be credited with their work. If you are one of these people - or know them - please contact me and I will credit you (them) in the relevant galleries. Now, curtain up. The main feature. It took me about 25 hours to complete.


Imagine you're a bird, swooping lower over the Welsh plains. Lo and behold! An English castle is right there in front of you.

Norman castle bird view 1

Norman castle bird view 2

Norman castle bird view 3

Norman castle bird view 4

Norman castle bird view 5

To enter this castle, you need to walk a long span of a drawbridge, watched by the keen eyes of bowmen high on the battlements. On both sides, a moat, filled with murky water.

Norman castle drawbridge view 1

Norman castle drawbridge view 2

At the slightest sign of a danger, the guardsmen will raise the bridge and a massive, rusted portcullis will crash down, sinking its claws into the ground. From dozens of arrow loops, soldiers will watch your every step.

Norman castle drawbridge view 3

English longbowmen are known for their skill and will not hesitate to shower you with bodkins.

Norman castle turret top view

Inside, just before you exit the long, barrel-roofed gatehouse, you will pass beneath a murder hole.

Norman castle murder hole

Just inside the bailey, there is a low wall built, fronted with a row of stakes, aimed at shattering an enemy attack should the gates be taken.

Norman castle assault breaker

Norman castle row of stakes

This is what it looks front inside: a small balcony above the murder hole, a long flight of steps leading up onto the battlements, a stables, the low defense wall. You're inside the inner court of the castle, called the bailey.

Norman castle bailey view 1

Deeper in, you can see the thick clutter of structures that make the heart of the castle. On the left, there's a stubby turret for locking up shrewsome maidens. In the center, there's a keep, with fancy masonry and flying buttresses all over. Behind it, you can glimpse the armory.

By the way, buttress is female form of butter, although you can probably use butter to create bridge-like connections between buildings only in extremely cold climates due to the low melting temperature of churned milk.

Norman castle bailey view 2

And here's the armory, up close. Notice the variety of shields. Those devices have fancy words, the least of which is a chevron. If you wanna feel posh, you won't call those shields shields. You will say pavis, escutcheon or buckler.

Norman castle armory

Here is the mandatory church, without which any medieval European castle would be nothing than a house full of godless murderers. It's the right place to wash one's sins after a tiresome crusade.

Norman castle church

Take a closer look at the flying buttress. Beneath, you can see that some of the leaded glass panes on the church walls are mismatched.

Norman church flying buttress

No true castle can be without flags, either. And more painted glass windows.

Norman castle flags

The keep is the central building of this massive structure. In reality, keep would be where the local feudal lord would have his lodging. It would also be extra-impregnated as the second line of defense in case the external walls were breached.

Norman castle keep view 1

Notice the solarium where the feudal lord can suntan.

Norman castle keep view 2

Another critical facility is the well. Without water, no castle could hope to withstand a nice prolonged siege.

Norman castle well

It's time to depart. Our birdie takes flight.

Norman castle east view

Norman castle south view

Norman castle west view

Kerkythea images

Time for proper fun ... This is madness, Sparta, uh ... realistic rendering.

Here's the same model, only re-created using Kerkythea, after exporting the model using SketchUp Importer for Google SketchUp and rendered with photons and ray tracing and magic and whatnot. You will like this. My dream of making near-realistic models is coming true, finally. Nirvana. Spledidski. A bird's view, with some fancy water in the moat:

Cool shot

The approach to the castle over the drawbridge, dramatic yet serene.

Castle entrance

Interior shot 1

Interior 2

And here's the castle gate, with some false background. But don't mind the outside.


Gate, another screenshot

Now, a handful of images demonstrating cool reflection effects. The same shot, with the water material changed. Some mud, some breeze and ripples, some crystal clear water. I think the combined element of the stone-lined bank of the moat and the water creates an impressive effect.

Water effect 1

Water effect 2

Water effect 3

Here's one with mud:


And one with a slight breeze rippling the water:


And there's still more room for improvement. Wait for it.


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