Each Battle Castle episode stands alone.
In this special online segment we look at castle design to compare and contrast the features shared by the castles. This time we examine Arrow Slits.
Arrow slits are a castle feature that was used for active defence. Also known as arrow loops, archers could use these to shoot at the enemy under protection of the castle’s walls. Five of the Battle Castle Six boast these – here’s how each stacks up:
Malbork Castle: Compared to the other four castles in this week’s Castle Battle, this red-brick stronghold has very few arrow slits. Curiously, some slits are positioned below the level where moats were believed to have been filled with water in the Middle Ages – perhaps they served another function.
Crac des Chevaliers: The crown jewel of Crusader castles has arrow slits positioned throughout the outer walls, as well as at the tops of the outer and inner walls. On the outer wall, these were often alternated with machicolations to create a dynamic defensive system to counter long-range and close-range attacks.
Chateau Gaillard: Much of Chateau Gaillard is now in ruins, so it’s difficult to say if the Outer Ward or Middle Ward boasted arrow slits. However, we do still see evidence of this defensive engineering in the Inner Ward. Here, the slits are cleverly staggered to maximize range.
Dover Castle: the key to England’s arrow slits are positioned throughout the inner and outer wall. Most are easily recognizable, as they are bordered with a lighter colour stone than most of the structure. Unlike Crac des Chevaliers, however, there currently seems to be no evidence of slits at the tops of the walls.
Conwy Castle: Like Dover Castle, Conwy Castle’s arrow slits are lined with a different type of stone than the rest of the castle – in this case, its reddish-pink sandstone. This finely-cut stone increases the structural integrity. Also, many of the arrow slits at Conwy appear to be the ideal length for a longbow.
To see the arrow slits in more detail, check out our Flickr Gallery