of Dover Castle
This exploded view of the tower keep of the castle at Dover shows the separate floors. Detailed diagrams of each floor can be found on the next page but here you can see that the layout of the floors is more complex than those at Hedingham. Hedingham Castle has just one main room or hall on each floor whereas Dover Castle has two with a central dividing wall between them. This makes the castle at Dover much stronger.
Because of the extra complexity of the layout Dover Castle has two staircases. One of these staircases is very wide making it easier for people to pass going up and down.
King Henry II's masons built the rectangular keep at Dover Castle roughly between 1170 and 1180. The building is almost 100ft square. Below is the layout of the ground floor which, like many keeps, is used for storage.
Unlike the keep at Hedingham, which has one central hall on each floor, the keep at Dover has two large halls on each floor. A cross wall provides a partition between the two halls and adds extra strength to the construction. Two spiral staircases in opposite corners of the keep provide access to all floors. The walls are so thick that there is room for extra chambers leading off the main halls. Entrance to the keep is via steps in the forebuilding shown at the bottom of the diagram.
These two plans show the layouts of the first and second floors of the castle. Again, each floor has the two large halls at their centres.
The forebuilding shown at the bottom left of each plan holds the main stairs that lead from the entrance up to the first floor. This forebuilding has small chapels built into it on each floor. On the second floor are two small circles. The one towards the centre shows the location of the well, an extremely important necessity when the castle is under siege, and the other being a water tank. The first floor would have been used to house a number of men to guard the castle while the second floor would have been used by the king and his family. One hall on each floor would have been for dining while the other would have been for sleeping. The smaller chambers built into the walls provided space for more privacy and also toilets known as garderobes. These were on the walls to the top of the plans above. As in many keeps the toilets have shafts in the walls that empty out at the base of the walls. This design could allow attackers access to the castle by climbing up the shafts if they were too large.
The final plan shows the gallery that runs around the top of the second floor.
Explore a virtual reconstruction of a Norman aquare keep complete with three floors plus a gallery on the fourth.
This reconstruction is based loosely on the layout of rooms within Dover Castle.