Castle Roofs – Query

I took an architecture history course in Quebec. The professor put up some slides of pueblos in the Southwestern United States, mud brick buildings with flat roofs. One student raised her hand and asked, “How do the roofs shed the snow?”

I was reminded of that because I’ve been puzzling over the roofs of castles. The structures with crenelations have roofs that do not extend over the walls. I’ve been wondering how they shed the rain.

  1. Daz said:

    This comes under the heading of ‘Stuff I’ve always “known.” In other words I don’t know where I came across it, or whether it’s actually true, but it makes sense.

    The run-off would be channelled within the structure, eventually ending up in some form of reservoir which would be used in time of siege.

    • fojap said:

      The first part is sort of necessary. After all, water is one of the most damaging things to a building, so it would have to be channeled in some manner. My question was a little more specific. I get absurdly excited by things like cross-sections.

      As far as the reservoir thing goes, I’m a little less sure. A source of water, usually a well, seems to have been considered a necessity. It might have been channeled into a reservoir, but not for necessarily for use during a siege.

      Maybe you could run over to a nearby castle and ask for me. 🙂

  2. usually for flat roofs, one does have fulboras where water is collected and drained either through the columns or gutters on the side of the building.

    • fojap said:

      Thanks, Noel. I figured you’d have an answer. But did they have the technology in the eleven and twelfth centuries? The book I was reading mention casting lead for pipes, so I guess it’s possible.

      Here’s a cross section of an Irish tower.

      The plans are fun to look at, too.

      Though it seems that they don’t have proper construction plans on file. 😉

  3. I like the planning.
    With the massive walls, I think they could have concealed the rain water down pipes somewhere or else they would have problems with the roofs.

    • fojap said:

      It’s interesting to see how much they have within the walls.

      • i think they had indoor heating in some of those spaces in the walls. I always think that when architecture became open to the mass market, we lost a great deal

      • fojap said:

        The heating is not so much of a puzzle – they had huge open fireplaces built into the walls.

        As far as the mass market goes, the aristocracy probably lost, but I’m not sure European peasants did so badly. I’ve always had the impression that life was hard for poor Europeans under feudalism.

      • yes, the rich definitely lost. the poor I think gained somewhat. At least they would all get some decent housing.

  4. rustiguzzi said:

    I know it’s late, but I’ve only just found this link:

    “The shape of the roof has been, and still is, hotly debated. Many scholars believe that the roofs were flat. Circular roofs sometimes evolved into a cone or dome shape, while the square and rectangular ones formed single or double gables. Roof beams were set into holes or grooves in the masonry. The joist holes are still visible in many castles. The roofs were drained by gutters, which emptied into a drainage system inside the castle grounds or outside into the ditch or moat.”

    That there should be debate over the shape of the roof is not surprising, as few (if any) survive. Those castles that were not destroyed by war, or “slighted” (partially or completely damaged to make them militarily useless) were left to decay when such buildings were no longer needed.

    • fojap said:

      Thanks for taking the time to give me the link. It’s not too late at all, since there was no real deadline. So it seems that they did have gutters. I’m not entirely sure about what technology they had at what time (and also where) beyond the obvious.

      Flat roofs seem entirely possible in the Mediteranean, but so impractical in England. That makes me wonder if there were flat roofs on any other buildings – also if the climate was the same.

      I learned about the slighting on a trip to Florence about a decade ago.

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