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Castle Builders (Paperback)

Approaches to Castle Design and Construction in the Middle Ages

Medieval History Archaeology Colour Books Medieval

By Malcolm Hislop
Imprint: Pen & Sword Archaeology
Pages: 272
Illustrations: 150 b/w Illustrations
ISBN: 9781526796615
Published: 1st March 2021



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In Castle Builders, Malcolm Hislop looks at the hugely popular subject of castles from the unusual perspective of design and construction. In this general introduction to the subject, we discover something of the personalities behind their creation - the architects and craftsmen - and, furthermore, the techniques they employed, and how style and technology was disseminated. Castle Builders takes both a thematic and a chronological approach to the design and construction of castles, providing the reader with clear lines of development. Themes include earth, timber and stone construction techniques, the evolution of the great tower, the development of military engineering, the progression of domestic accommodation, and the degree to which aesthetics contributed to castle design.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is an in-depth look into how castles were built. This book goes into specifics and details on the how to and the know how of what went into a castle. Very interesting book!!

NetGalley, Denise Wheelock

A great reference and academic read covering how castles were constructed in the Middle Ages. The diagrams, detailed information, and top notch bibliography set this book apart from others like it. Researchers in an academic library would only need this text to accomplish in depth research on the topic. It is definitely a more technical read, but that is what makes it such a great resource for researchers.

NetGalley, Kelsea Whaley

If you want to know all about medieval castles, this book is for you. It covers the different designs and possible builders of them, everything from foundation to the towers and decorations.

NetGalley, Caidyn Young

An interesting, well researched and informative read that helped to learn more about castles and how they were built.
I like the clear explanations, the details and the illustrations.
Highly recommended.

NetGalley, Anna Maria Giacomasso

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The research that went into this book delves into the building of castles in the Middle Ages. It looks at the ability to defend that specific area from towers, how it sits in relation to water for drinking and travel.

You get a feel for the scientific approach to designing castles, so long ago. The pencil drawings are numerous and helpful in understanding what the castles look like.

There are a lot of measurements in the book, how large the castle is, the size and shape of rooms. It describes what materials were used in building the castle walls.

Overall, very informative. An architect interested in history would greatly enjoy this book. Most of the castles are in England, but there are some from many different places.

NetGalley, Tina Cay

I found this book to be highly educational. It covers covers pretty much everything you might ever want to know about how castles were built. The book included quite a few photographs and diagrams which I enjoyed, as well as a helpful glossary at the end.

NetGalley, Heather Russell

Superbly detailed, with loads of colour photographs and diagrams, this is a fascinating read for fans of both history and architecture.

Welsh Border Life, February 2018

This is a very welcome, important and essential addition to the castellologists library.
Throughout Castle Builders the reader can sense the respect and affection Hislop has for the personalities and skills of the medieval master builders and their crafts.

With lavish colour photography throughout, it is a pleasure to read.

Castle Studies Group

Architectural details and military engineers are naturally in the foreground and castle communities in the background, but the execution is superb, the detail and the text accurate, incisive and navigable. The result is a volume that is going to be consulted rather than pushing debates in different directions, but it serves a very useful purpose, will stand the test of time, and fills a gap in the existing literature.

Medieval Archaeology

There's no shortage of books on castles, many of them derivative or dull. This is neither...

... The best book on castles for some time.

British Archaeology, July/August 2017 - reviewed by Paul Stamper

Malcolm Hislop’s Castle Builders
Approaches to Castle Design and
Construction in the Middle Ages (Pen and
Sword Books) is a sound and solid text, very
readable and with good detail. Pen and
Sword Books have done an excellent job
with the quality of the illustrations and I
would now suggest this book as the standard
introductory text for the intelligent reader
although it also contains much of value for
advanced student of castle studies.

The Gatehouse Record

Have you ever looked at a castle and wondered who designed it and how? This new book covers, "approaches to castle design and construction in the Middle Ages" and explains how different eras gave rise to different techniques.

Explore History, December 2016

This is an excellent book on castles for both the enthusiast and the casual reader alike. A major appeal of this book is it deals with castles from the perspective of their design and constructions. So, rather than dealing with knights and sieges, ‘Castle Builders’ deals with the men behind the scenes; masons, architects, craftsmen.

As you read the book you will learn much about the evolution of castles. The book is beautifully designed and illustrated.

Overall, a fine edition to the library of anyone interested in castles.

Steve Earles, Destructive Music

This book is almost exclusively concerned with British castles (the Tower of London, Dover Castle, and the Conwy Castle are featured heavily), but there are also a few northern French examples, and the occasional site elsewhere in Europe. With an impressive range of features from specific castles across the country analysed, and clear photographs and diagrams, this is a good guide to the lasting contributors of medieval castle builders.

Current Archaeology, January 2017 - reviewed by Lucia Marchini

I liked it a lot. A very interesting work both for those who simply seek knowledge on a subject as transcendental as the castles and fortresses, and for those modellers, including myself, who try to document as much as possible when it comes to recreating our constructions in miniature.

Read the full Spanish review here.

José Manuél Rico Cortés (Mister JM) - Miniaturas JM

As featured in

Antiques Diary, January-February 2017

Obviously the most concentrated period of castle building occurred shortly after the Norman invasion in 1066. Author Malcolm Hislop uncovers some fascinating facts about the people who designed and built the amazing fortresses that have survived to the present day.

Books Monthly, November 2016 – reviewed by Paul Norman

This encyclopaedic work provides a comprehensive and in-depth coverage of the Medieval Castle and is likely to become a standard reference work on the subject. It will appeal to anyone with an interest in both castles per se and the ‘Medieval era’ / ‘Middle Ages’ in general.

NZ Crown Mines

A look at the hugely popular subject of castles from the unusual perspective of design and construction. In this general introduction to the subject, we discover something of the personalities behind their creation - the architects and craftsmen - and, furthermore, the techniques they employed, and how style and technology was disseminated.

Exclusively British, November 2016

About Malcolm Hislop

Malcolm Hislop is an independent researcher and author, with a background in the archaeology of buildings and a special interest in the medieval period. His early research was based around the career of the Durham master mason John Lewyn, one of the most prolific castle builders of the fourteenth century. He maintains a keen interest in the process of medieval building design and construction. His previous books include Medieval Masons, John Lewyn of Durham, How to Build a Cathedral, How to Read Castles and Castle Builders.

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