The Medieval Castle in Britain (First Year Seminar): Fortresses, Technology, and Power

Spring 2015

ARTHIST 89S-02 | MEDREN 89S-01

Matthew Woodworth

Th 3:05-5:35pm| The Wired! Lab (Smith, Bay 11, A233)

This class investigates the evolution of the British castle from the Norman Conquest through the end of the Tudor dynasty (i.e., 1066-1603). It begins with the mighty eleventh-century ruins scattered along the coast of Wales — the greatest surviving fortifications in the world, and the inspiration for those seen in Game of Thrones and The Lord of the Rings. The course then surveys the development of British military architecture over the next five and half centuries. Dramatic changes in ground plan and topography were matched by sweeping changes in style, architectural fashion, materials, and the machinery of war. Students will use 3D modeling to map the location of castles in the British landscape, as well as make digital reconstructions (both external and internal) of how a vanished or ruinous castle would have appeared in its heyday. Formalist and technological concerns will be approached holistically and symbiotically: How did the appearance of the “ideal” castle change over time, and how did it adapt to new regimes, weapons, and economic forces? We will also investigate the historical accuracy of popular “siege engine” computer games such as Stronghold, Age of Empires, and Medieval: Total War.

This course is open to first year students only. Due to popular demand, a special topics course has been created for other students. More information is available here.


Related Projects

Modeling Medieval British Castles