A keep is a type of fortified tower built within castle
A castle is a type of fortified structure built in Europe and the Middle East during the Middle Ages by European nobility. Scholars debate the scope of the word castle, but usually consider it to be the private fortified residence of a lord or noble...

s during the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 by European nobility
Nobility is a social class which possesses more acknowledged privileges or eminence than members of most other classes in a society, membership therein typically being hereditary. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be...

. Scholars have debated the scope of the word keep, but usually consider it to refer to large towers in castles that were fortified residences, used as a refuge of last resort should the rest of the castle fall to an adversary. The first keeps were made of timber and formed a key part of the motte and bailey castles that emerged in Normandy
Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

 and Anjou
Anjou is a former county , duchy and province centred on the city of Angers in the lower Loire Valley of western France. It corresponds largely to the present-day département of Maine-et-Loire...

 during the 10th century; the design spread to England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 as a result of the Norman invasion
Norman conquest of England
The Norman conquest of England began on 28 September 1066 with the invasion of England by William, Duke of Normandy. William became known as William the Conqueror after his victory at the Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066, defeating King Harold II of England...

 of 1066, and in turn spread into Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

 during the second half of the 11th century and into Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

 in the 1170s. The Anglo-Normans and French rulers began to build stone keeps during the 10th and 11th centuries; these included Norman keeps, with a square or rectangular design, and circular shell keep
Shell keep
A shell keep is a style of medieval fortification, best described as a stone structure circling the top of a motte.In English castle morphology, shell keeps are perceived as the successors to motte-and-bailey castles, with the wooden fence around the top of the motte replaced by a stone wall...

s. Stone keeps carried considerable political as well as military importance and could take up to a decade to build.

During the 12th century new designs began to be introduced - in France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, quatrefoil
The word quatrefoil etymologically means "four leaves", and applies to general four-lobed shapes in various contexts.-In heraldry:In heraldic terminology, a quatrefoil is a representation of a flower with four petals, or a leaf with four leaflets . It is sometimes shown "slipped", i.e. with an...

-shaped keeps were introduced, while in England polygonal
In geometry a polygon is a flat shape consisting of straight lines that are joined to form a closed chain orcircuit.A polygon is traditionally a plane figure that is bounded by a closed path, composed of a finite sequence of straight line segments...

 towers were built. By the end of the century, French and English keep designs began to diverge: Philip II of France
Philip II of France
Philip II Augustus was the King of France from 1180 until his death. A member of the House of Capet, Philip Augustus was born at Gonesse in the Val-d'Oise, the son of Louis VII and his third wife, Adela of Champagne...

 built a sequence of circular keeps as part of his bid to stamp his royal authority on his new territories, while in England castles were built that abandoned the use of keeps altogether. In Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, keeps were increasingly incorporated into both Christian and Islamic castles, although in Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 the use of tall towers called bergfried
A bergfried is a tall tower typically found in medieval castles in German-speaking countries . Its defensive function is to some extent similar to that of a keep or donjon in English or French castles...

, rather than keeps in the western fashion, were preferred. In the second half of the 14th century there was a resurgence in the building of keeps. In France, the keep at Vincennes
Château de Vincennes
The Château de Vincennes is a massive 14th and 17th century French royal castle in the town of Vincennes, to the east of Paris, now a suburb of the metropolis.-History:...

 began a fashion for tall, heavily machicolated
A machicolation is a floor opening between the supporting corbels of a battlement, through which stones, or other objects, could be dropped on attackers at the base of a defensive wall. The design was developed in the Middle Ages when the Norman crusaders returned. A machicolated battlement...

 designs, a trend adopted in Spain most prominently through the Valladolid school of Spanish castle design. Meanwhile, in England tower keeps became popular amongst the most wealthy nobles: these large keeps, each uniquely designed, formed part of the grandest castles built during the period.

By the 16th century, however, keeps were slowly falling out of fashion as fortifications and residences. Many were destroyed between the 17th and 18th centuries in civil wars, or incorporated into gardens as an alternative to follies
In architecture, a folly is a building constructed primarily for decoration, but either suggesting by its appearance some other purpose, or merely so extravagant that it transcends the normal range of garden ornaments or other class of building to which it belongs...

. During the 19th century, keeps became fashionable once again and in England and France a number were restored or redesigned by Gothic architects. Despite further damage to many French and Spanish keeps during the wars of the 20th century, keeps now form an important part of the tourist and heritage industry in Europe.

Etymology and historiography

Since the 16th century, the English word keep has commonly referred to large towers in castles. The word originates from around 1375 to 1376, coming from the Middle English term kype, meaning basket or cask, and was a term applied to the shell keep
Shell keep
A shell keep is a style of medieval fortification, best described as a stone structure circling the top of a motte.In English castle morphology, shell keeps are perceived as the successors to motte-and-bailey castles, with the wooden fence around the top of the motte replaced by a stone wall...

 at Guînes
Guînes is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in northern France.-Geography:Guînes is located on the border of the two territories of the Boulonnais and Calaisis, at the edge of the now-drained marshes, which extend from here to the coast. The Guînes canal connects with...

, said to resemble a barrel. The term came to be used for other shell keeps by the 15th century. By the 17th century, the word keep lost its original reference to baskets or casks, and was popularly assumed to have come from the Middle English word keep, meaning to hold or to protect.

Early on, the use of the word keep became associated with the idea of a tower in a castle that would serve both as a fortified, high-status private residence and a refuge of last resort. The issue was complicated by the building of fortified Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 towers in Italy called tenazza that were used as defences of last resort and were also named after the Italian for to hold or to keep. By the 19th century Victorian historians incorrectly concluded that the etymology of the words "keep" and tenazza were linked, and that all keeps had fulfilled this military function.

As a result of this evolution in meaning, the use of the term keep in historical analysis today can be problematic. Contemporary medieval writers used various terms for the buildings we would today call keeps. In Latin, they are variously described as turris, turris castri or magna turris – a tower, a castle tower, or a great tower. The 12th century French came to term them a donjon, a corruption of the Latin dominarium or lordship, linking the keep and feudal authority. Similarly, medieval Spanish writers called the buildings torre del homenaje, or "place of homage
Homage is a show or demonstration of respect or dedication to someone or something, sometimes by simple declaration but often by some more oblique reference, artistic or poetic....

." In England, donjon was later corrupted to dungeon, which initially referred to a keep, rather than to a place of imprisonment.

This ambiguity over terminology has made historical analysis of the use of "keeps" problematic. While the term remains in common academic use, some academics prefer to use the term donjon, and most modern historians warn against using the term "keep" simplistically. The fortifications that we would today call keeps certainly did not necessarily form part of a unified medieval style, nor were they all used in a similar fashion during the period.

Timber keeps (9th - 12th centuries)

The earliest keeps were built as part of motte-and-bailey
A motte-and-bailey is a form of castle, with a wooden or stone keep situated on a raised earthwork called a motte, accompanied by an enclosed courtyard, or bailey, surrounded by a protective ditch and palisade...

 castles from the 10th century onwards - a combination of documentary and archaeological evidence places the first such castle, built at Vincy
Les Rues-des-Vignes
Les Rues-des-Vignes is a commune in the Nord department in northern France.Vinchy was the site of a famous battle of the then-rising Charles Martel in spring 717.-References:*...

, in 979. These castles were initially built by the more powerful lords of Anjou
Anjou is a former county , duchy and province centred on the city of Angers in the lower Loire Valley of western France. It corresponds largely to the present-day département of Maine-et-Loire...

 in the late 10th and 11th centuries, in particular Fulk III and his son, Geoffrey II, who built a great number of them between 987 and 1060. William the Conqueror then introduced this form of castle into England when he invaded in 1066, and the design spread through south Wales as the Normans expanded up the valleys during the subsequent decades.
In a motte and bailey design, a castle would include a mound called a motte, usually artificially constructed by piling up turf and soil, and a bailey, a lower walled enclosure. A keep and a protective wall would usually be built on top of the motte. Some protective walls around a keep would be large enough to have a wall-walk around them, and the outer walls of the motte and the wall-walk could be strengthened by filling in the gap between the wooden walls with earth and stones, allowing it to carry more weight - this was called a garillum. Smaller mottes could only support simple towers with room for a few soldiers, whilst larger mottes could be equipped with a much grander keep. Many wooden keeps were designed with a bretasche, a square structure that overhung from the upper floors of the building, enabling better defences and a more sturdy structural design. These wooden keeps could be protected by skins and hides to prevent them being easily set alight during a siege.

One contemporary account of these keeps comes from Jean de Colmieu around 1130, who described how the nobles of the Calais
Calais is a town in Northern France in the department of Pas-de-Calais, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Although Calais is by far the largest city in Pas-de-Calais, the department's capital is its third-largest city of Arras....

 region would build "a mound of earth as high as they can and dig a ditch about it was wide and deep as possible. The space on top of the mound is enclosed by a palisade of very strong hewn logs, strengthened at intervals by as many towers as their means can provide. Inside the enclosure is a citadel, or keep, which commands the whole circuit of the defences. The entrance to the fortress is by means of a bridge, which, rising from the outer side of the moat and supported on posts as it ascends, reches to the top of the mound." At Durham Castle
Durham Castle
Durham Castle is a Norman castle in the city of Durham, England, which has been wholly occupied since 1840 by University College, Durham. It is open to the general public to visit, but only through guided tours, since it is in use as a working building and is home to over 100 students...

, contemporaries described how the keep arose from the "tumulus of rising earth" with a keep reaching "into thin air, strong within and without", a "stalwart house...glittering with beauty in every part". As well as having defensive value, keeps and mottes sent a powerful political message to the local population.

Wooden keeps could be quite extensive in size, and as Robert Higham and Philip Barker have noted, it was possible to build "...very tall and massive structures." As an example of what these keeps may have comprised, the early 12th-century chronicler Lambert of Ardres described the wooden keep on top of the motte at the castle of Ardres
Ardres is a commune in the Pas-de-Calais department in northern France.Population : 4,198 inhabitants for the commune and 17,610 inhabitants for the canton.-Geography:...

, where the "...first storey was on the surface of the ground, where were cellars and granaries, and great boxes, tuns, casks, and other domestic utensils. In the storey above were the dwelling and common living-rooms of the residents in which were the larders, the rooms of the bakers and butlers, and the great chamber in which the lord and his wife slept...In the upper storey of the house were garret rooms...In this storey also the watchmen and the servants appointed to keep the house took their sleep."

In the Holy Roman Empire
Holy Roman Empire
The Holy Roman Empire was a realm that existed from 962 to 1806 in Central Europe.It was ruled by the Holy Roman Emperor. Its character changed during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, when the power of the emperor gradually weakened in favour of the princes...

 tall, free-standing wooden towers called bergfried
A bergfried is a tall tower typically found in medieval castles in German-speaking countries . Its defensive function is to some extent similar to that of a keep or donjon in English or French castles...

were commonly built by the 11th century, either as part of motte-and-bailey designs, or as part of hohenburgen castles, with a characteristic inner and outer court. Bergfried, which take their name from the German for a belfry
Bell tower
A bell tower is a tower which contains one or more bells, or which is designed to hold bells, even if it has none. In the European tradition, such a tower most commonly serves as part of a church and contains church bells. When attached to a city hall or other civic building, especially in...

, were in one sense similar to keeps, but are usually distinguished from them on account of bergfied having a smaller area or footprint, usually being non-residential and being typically integrated into the outer defences of a castle, rather than being a safe refuge of last resort.

Early stone keeps (10th - 12th centuries)

During the 10th century a small number of stone keeps began to be built in France, such at the Château de Langeais
Château de Langeais
The Château de Langeais is a castle in Indre-et-Loire, France, built on a promontory created by the small valley of the Roumer River at the opening to the Val de Loire...

: in the 11th century their numbers increased as the style spread through Normandy across the rest of France and into England. Some existing motte and bailey castles were converted to stone, with the keep amongst usually the first parts to be upgraded, while in other cases new keeps were built from scratch in stone. These stone keeps were introduced into Ireland during the 1170s following the Norman occupation of the east of the country, where they were particularly popular amongst the new Anglo-Norman lords. Two broad types of design emerged across France and England during the period: four-sided stone keeps, known as Norman keeps or great keeps in English - a donjon carré or donjon roman in French - and circular shell keep
Shell keep
A shell keep is a style of medieval fortification, best described as a stone structure circling the top of a motte.In English castle morphology, shell keeps are perceived as the successors to motte-and-bailey castles, with the wooden fence around the top of the motte replaced by a stone wall...


The reasons for the transition from timber to stone keeps is unclear, and the process was slow and uneven, taking many years to take effect across the various regions. Traditionally it was believed that stone keeps had been adopted because of the cruder nature of wooden buildings, the limited lifespan of wooden fortifications and their vulnerability to fire; recent archaeological studies have however shown that many wooden castles were as robust and as sophisticated as their stone equivalents. Some wooden keeps were not converted into stone for many years and were instead expanded in wood, such as at Hen Domen
Hen Domen
Hen Domen, Welsh, meaning "old mound", is the site of a medieval timber motte-and-bailey castle in Powys, Wales. It is the site of the original Montgomery Castle and was built by Roger de Montgomery in 1070....

. Nonetheless, stone became increasingly popular as a building material for keeps for both military and symbolic reasons.

Stone keep construction required skilled craftsmen. Unlike timber and earthworks, which could be built using unfree labour or serfs, these craftsmen had to be paid and stone keeps were therefore expensive. They were also relatively slow to erect, due to the limitations of the lime mortar
Lime mortar
Lime mortar is a type of mortar composed of lime and an aggregate such as sand, mixed with water. It is one of the oldest known types of mortar, dating back to the 4th century BC and widely used in Ancient Rome and Greece, when it largely replaced the clay and gypsum mortars common to Ancient...

 used during the period – a keep's walls could usually only be raised by a maximum of 12 feet (3.6 metres) a year, the keep at Scarborough
Scarborough Castle
Scarborough Castle is a former medieval Royal fortress situated on a rocky promontory overlooking the North Sea and Scarborough, North Yorkshire, England...

 was not untypical in taking ten years to build. The number of such keeps remained relatively low: in England, for example, although several early stone keeps had been built after the conquest, there were only somewhere between ten and fifteen in existence by 1100, and only around a hundred had been built by 1216.
Norman keeps had four sides, with the corners reinforced by pilaster
A pilaster is a slightly-projecting column built into or applied to the face of a wall. Most commonly flattened or rectangular in form, pilasters can also take a half-round form or the shape of any type of column, including tortile....

A buttress is an architectural structure built against or projecting from a wall which serves to support or reinforce the wall...

es; some keeps, particularly in Normandy and France, had a barlongue design, being rectangular in plan with their length twice their width, while others, particularly in England, formed a square. These keeps could be up to four storeys high, with the entrance placed on the first storey to prevent the door from being easily broken down; early French keeps had external stairs in wood, whilst later castles in both France and England built them in stone. In some cases the entrance stairs were protected by additional walls and a door, producing a forebuilding. The strength of the Norman design typically came from the thickness of the keep's walls: usually made of rag-stone
Rag-stone is a name given by some architectural writers to work done with stones which are quarried in thin pieces, such as the Horsham sandstone, Yorkshire stone, the slate stones, but this is more properly flag or slab work. By rag-stone, near London, is meant an excellent material from the...

, these could be up to 24 feet (7.3 metres) thick, immensely strong and producing a steady temperature inside the building throughout summer and winter. The larger keeps were subdivided by an internal wall while the smaller versions had a single, slightly cramped chamber on each floor. Usually only the first floor would be vaulted
Vault (architecture)
A Vault is an architectural term for an arched form used to provide a space with a ceiling or roof. The parts of a vault exert lateral thrust that require a counter resistance. When vaults are built underground, the ground gives all the resistance required...

 in stone, with the higher storeys supported with timbers.

There has been extensive academic discussion of the extent to which Norman keeps were designed with a military or political function in mind, particularly in England. Earlier analyses of Norman keeps focused on their military design, and historians such as R. Brown Cathcart King proposed that square keeps were adopted because of their military superiority over timber keeps. Most of these Norman keeps were certainly extremely physically robust, even though the characteristic pilaster buttresses added little real architectural strength to the design. Many of the weaknesses inherent to their design were irrelevant during the early part of their history. The corners of square keeps were theoretically vulnerable to siege engines and galleried mining, but before the introduction of the trebuchet
A trebuchet is a siege engine that was employed in the Middle Ages. It is sometimes called a "counterweight trebuchet" or "counterpoise trebuchet" in order to distinguish it from an earlier weapon that has come to be called the "traction trebuchet", the original version with pulling men instead of...

 at the end of the 12th century, early artillery stood little practical chance of damaging the keeps, and galleried mining was rarely practised. Similarly, the corners of a square keep created dead space that defenders could not fire at, but missile fire in castle sieges was less important until the introduction of the crossbow
A crossbow is a weapon consisting of a bow mounted on a stock that shoots projectiles, often called bolts or quarrels. The medieval crossbow was called by many names, most of which derived from the word ballista, a torsion engine resembling a crossbow in appearance.Historically, crossbows played a...

 in the middle of the 12th century, when arrowslits began to be introduced for the first time.
Nonetheless, many stone Norman keeps made considerable compromises to military utility. Norwich Castle
Norwich Castle
Norwich Castle is a medieval royal fortification in the city of Norwich, in the English county of Norfolk. It was founded in the aftermath of the Norman Conquest of England when William the Conqueror ordered its construction because he wished to have a fortified place in the important city of...

, for example, included elaborate blind arcading
Blind arcade
A blind arcade is an arcade that is composed of a series of arches that has no actual openings and that is applied to the surface of a wall as a decorative element: i.e. the arches are not windows or openings but are part of the masonry face. It is designed as an ornamental architectural element,...

 on the outside of the building and appears to had an entrance route designed for public ceremony, rather than for defence. The interior of the keep at Hedingham
Hedingham Castle
Hedingham Castle in Essex, England, is a Norman motte and bailey castle with a stone keep. For four centuries it was the primary seat of the de Vere family, Earls of Oxford.-Description:...

 could certainly have hosted impressive ceremonies and events, but contained numerous flaws from a military perspective. Important early English and Welsh keeps such as the White Tower
White Tower (Tower of London)
The White Tower is a central tower, the old keep, at the Tower of London.-History:The castle which later became known as the Tower of London was built by William the Conqueror in 1066. It began as a timber fortification enclosed by a palisade. In the next decade work began on the White Tower, the...

, Colchester
Colchester Castle
Colchester Castle in Colchester, Essex is an example of a largely complete Norman castle. It is a Grade I listed building.-Construction:At one and a half times the size of the Tower of London's White Tower, Colchester's keep is the largest ever built in Britain and the largest surviving example in...

 and Chepstow
Chepstow Castle
Chepstow Castle , located in Chepstow, Monmouthshire in Wales, on top of cliffs overlooking the River Wye, is the oldest surviving post-Roman stone fortification in Britain...

 were all built in a distinctive Romanesque
Romanesque architecture
Romanesque architecture is an architectural style of Medieval Europe characterised by semi-circular arches. There is no consensus for the beginning date of the Romanesque architecture, with proposals ranging from the 6th to the 10th century. It developed in the 12th century into the Gothic style,...

 style, often reusing Roman materials and sites, and were almost certainly intended to impress and generate a political effect amongst local people. The political value of these keep designs, and the social prestige they lent to their builders, may help explain why they continued to be built in England into the late 12th century, beyond the point when military theory would have suggested that alternative designs were adopted.

The second early stone design, emerging from the 12th century onwards, was the shell keep
Shell keep
A shell keep is a style of medieval fortification, best described as a stone structure circling the top of a motte.In English castle morphology, shell keeps are perceived as the successors to motte-and-bailey castles, with the wooden fence around the top of the motte replaced by a stone wall...

, a donjon annulaire in French, which involved replacing the wooden keep on a motte, or the palisade on a ringwork
A ringwork is a form of fortified defensive structure, usually circular or oval in shape. Ringworks are essentially motte-and-bailey castles minus the motte...

, with a circular stone wall. Shell keeps were sometimes further protected by an additional low protective wall, called a chemise
Chemise (wall)
In medieval castles the chemise was typically a low wall encircling the keep, protecting the base of the tower. An alternative term, more commonly used in English is mantlet wall....

, around their base. Buildings could then be built around the inside of the shell, producing a small inner courtyard at the centre. The style was particularly popular in south-east England and across Normandy, although less so elsewhere. Restormel Castle
Restormel Castle
Restormel Castle is situated on the River Fowey near Lostwithiel, Cornwall, United Kingdom. It is one of the four chief Norman castles of Cornwall, the others being Launceston, Tintagel and Trematon. The castle is notable for its perfectly circular design...

 is a classic example of this development, as is the later Launceston Castle
Launceston Castle
Launceston Castle is located in the town of Launceston, Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. .-Early history:The castle is a Norman motte and bailey earthwork castle raised by Robert, Count of Mortain, half-brother of William the Conqueror shortly after the Norman conquest, possibly as early as 1067...

; prominent Normandy and Low Country equivalents include Gisors
Château de Gisors
The Château de Gisors is a castle in the town of Gisors in the départment of Eure, France.-History:The castle was a key fortress of the Dukes of Normandy in the 11th and 12th centuries. It was intended to defend the Anglo-Norman Vexin territory from the pretensions of the King of France...

 and the Burcht van Leiden
Burcht van Leiden
The burcht van Leiden is an old Shell keep in Leiden constructed in the 11th century. It is located at the spot where two tributaries of the Rhine come together, the Leidse Rijn, and another river, now a canal...

 - these castles were amongst the most powerful fortifications of the period. Although the circular design held military advantages over one with square corners, as noted above these only really mattered from the end of th 12th century onwards; the major reason for adopting a shell keep design, in the 12th century at least, was the circular design of the original earthworks exploited to support the keep; indeed, some designs were less than circular in order to accommodate irregular mottes, such as that found at Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle is a medieval castle and royal residence in Windsor in the English county of Berkshire, notable for its long association with the British royal family and its architecture. The original castle was built after the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror. Since the time of Henry I it...


Mid-medieval keeps (late 12th - 14th centuries)

During the second half of the 12th century a range of new keep designs began to appear across France and England, breaking the previous unity of the regional designs; the use of keeps in castles spread through Iberia, while some new castles removed keeps from their designs altogether. One traditional explanation for these developments emphasises the military utility of the new approaches, arguing, for example, that the curved surfaces of the new keeps helped to deflect attacks, or that they drew on lessons learnt during the Crusades from Islamic practices in the Levant. More recent historical analysis, however, has emphasised the political and social drivers that underlay these mid-medieval changes in keep design.

Through most of the 12th century, France was divided between the Capetian kings, ruling from the Île-de-France
Île-de-France (province)
The province of Île-de-France or Isle de France is an historical province of France, and the one at the centre of power during most of French history...

, and kings of England, who controlled Normandy and much of the west of France. Within the Capetian territories, early experimentation in new keep designs began at Houdan
Donjon de Houdan
The Donjon de Houdan is a medieval fortified tower in the commune of Houdan in the Yvelines département of France.- Architecture :...

 in 1120, where a circular keep was built with four round turrets; internally, however, the structure remained conventionally square. A few years later, Château d'Étampes
Château d'Étampes
The Château d'Étampes was a castle in the town of Étampes in the départment of Essonne, France. The principal remains are of the 12th-century keep, the Tour de Guinette.-History:...

 adopted a quatrefoil
The word quatrefoil etymologically means "four leaves", and applies to general four-lobed shapes in various contexts.-In heraldry:In heraldic terminology, a quatrefoil is a representation of a flower with four petals, or a leaf with four leaflets . It is sometimes shown "slipped", i.e. with an...

 design. These designs, however, remained isolated experiments.

In the 1190s, however, the struggle for power in France began to swing in favour of Philip II
Philip II of France
Philip II Augustus was the King of France from 1180 until his death. A member of the House of Capet, Philip Augustus was born at Gonesse in the Val-d'Oise, the son of Louis VII and his third wife, Adela of Champagne...

, culminating in the Capetian capture of Normandy in 1204. Philip II started to construct completely circular keeps, such as the Tour Jeanne d'Arc, with most built in his newly acquired territories. The first of Philip's new keeps was begun at the Louvre
The Musée du Louvre – in English, the Louvre Museum or simply the Louvre – is one of the world's largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world and a historic monument. A central landmark of Paris, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement...

 in 1190 and at least another twenty followed, all built to a consistent standard and cost. The architectural idea of circular keeps may have come from Catalonia
Catalonia is an autonomous community in northeastern Spain, with the official status of a "nationality" of Spain. Catalonia comprises four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida, and Tarragona. Its capital and largest city is Barcelona. Catalonia covers an area of 32,114 km² and has an...

, where circular towers in castles formed a local tradition, and probably carried some military advantages, but Philip's intention in building these new keeps in a fresh style was clearly political, an attempt to demonstrate his new power and authority over his extended territories. As historian Philippe Durand suggests, these keeps provided military security and were a physical representation of the renouveau capétian, or Capetian renewal.
Keep design in England only began to change towards the end of the 12th century, later than in France. Wooden keeps on mottes ceased to be built across most of England by the 1150s, although they continued to be erected in Wales and along the Welsh Marches
Welsh Marches
The Welsh Marches is a term which, in modern usage, denotes an imprecisely defined area along and around the border between England and Wales in the United Kingdom. The precise meaning of the term has varied at different periods...

. By the end of the 12th century, England and Ireland saw a handful of innovative angular or polygonal keeps built, including the keep at Orford Castle
Orford Castle
Orford Castle is a castle in the village of Orford, Suffolk, England, located 12 miles northeast of Ipswich, with views over the Orford Ness. It was built between 1165 and 1173 by Henry II of England to consolidate royal power in the region. The well-preserved keep, described by historian R...

, with three rectangular, clasping towers built out from the high, circular central tower; the cross-shaped keep of Trim Castle
Trim Castle
Trim Castle , Trim, County Meath, Ireland, on the shores of the Boyne has an area of 30,000 m². It is the remains of Ireland's largest Anglo-Norman castle...

 and the famous polygonal design at Conisborough. Despite these new designs, square keeps remained popular across much of England, and as late as the 1170s square Norman great keeps were being built at Newcastle. Circular keep designs similar to those in France only really became popular in Britain in the Welsh Marches and Scotland for a short period during the early 13th century.

As with the new keeps constructed in France, these Anglo-Norman designs were informed both by military thinking and by political drivers. The keep at Orford has been particularly extensively analysed in this regard, and although traditional explanations suggested that its unusual plan was the result of an experimental military design, more recent analysis concludes that the design was instead probably driven by political symbolism and the need for Henry to dominate the contested lands of East Anglia
East Anglia
East Anglia is a traditional name for a region of eastern England, named after an ancient Anglo-Saxon kingdom, the Kingdom of the East Angles. The Angles took their name from their homeland Angeln, in northern Germany. East Anglia initially consisted of Norfolk and Suffolk, but upon the marriage of...

. The architecture would, for mid-12th century nobility, have summoned up images of King Arthur or Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

, then the idealised versions of royal and imperial power. Even formidable military designs such as that at Château Gaillard were built with political effect in mind. Gaillard was designed to reaffirm Angevin authority in a fiercely disputed conflict zone and the keep, although militarily impressive, contained only an anteroom and a royal audience chamber, while being built on soft chalk and without a well, both serious defects from a defensive perspective.

During most of the medieval period, Iberia was divided between Christian and Islamic kingdoms, neither of which traditionally built keeps, instead building watchtowers or mural towers. By the 12th century, however, the influence of France and the various military order
Military order
A military order is a Christian society of knights that was founded for crusading, i.e. propagating or defending the faith , either in the Holy Land or against Islam or pagans in Europe...

s was encouraging the development of square keeps in Christian castles across the region, and by the second half of the century this practice was spread across into the Islamic kingdoms.
By contrast, the remainder of Europe saw stone towers being used in castles, but not in a way that fulfilled the range of functions seen in the western European keeps. In the Low Countries, it became popular for the local nobility to build stand-alone, square towers, but rarely as part of a wider castle. Similarly, square stone towers became popular in Venice, but these did not fulfil the same role as western keeps. In Germany, rectangular stone castles began to replace motte and bailey castles from the 12th century onwards. These designs included stone versions of the traditional bergfried
A bergfried is a tall tower typically found in medieval castles in German-speaking countries . Its defensive function is to some extent similar to that of a keep or donjon in English or French castles...

towers, which still remained distinct from the domestic keeps used in more western parts of Europe, with the occasional notable exception, such as the large, residential bergfried at Eltville
Eltville am Rhein is a town in the Rheingau-Taunus-Kreis in the Regierungsbezirk of Darmstadt in Hesse, Germany. It is located on the German Half-Timbered House Road ....


Several approaches to designing new castles emerged that removed the requirement for keeps at all. One such design was the concentric
Concentric castle
A concentric castle is a castle with two or more concentric curtain walls, such that the outer wall is lower than the inner and can be defended from it. The word concentric does not imply that these castles were circular; in fact if taken too literally the term "concentric" is quite misleading...

 approach, involving exterior walls guarded with towers, and potentially supported by further, concentric layered defenses: the result at castles such as Framlingham
Framlingham Castle
Framlingham Castle is a castle in the market town of Framlingham in Suffolk in England. An early motte and bailey or ringwork Norman castle was built on the Framlingham site by 1148, but this was destroyed by Henry II of England in the aftermath of the revolt of 1173-4...

 often dispensed with a central keep altogther. Military factors may well have driven this development: R. Brown, for example, suggests that designs with a separate keep and bailey system inherently lacked a co-ordinated and combined defensive system, and that once bailey walls were sufficiently sophisticated a keep became militarily unnecessary. In England, gatehouse
A gatehouse, in architectural terminology, is a building enclosing or accompanying a gateway for a castle, manor house, fort, town or similar buildings of importance.-History:...

s were also growing in size and sophistication to the point where they too challenged the need for a keep in the same castle. The classic Edwardian
Edward I of England
Edward I , also known as Edward Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots, was King of England from 1272 to 1307. The first son of Henry III, Edward was involved early in the political intrigues of his father's reign, which included an outright rebellion by the English barons...

 gatehouse, with two large, flanking towers, multiple portcullises, potentially designed to be defended from both attacks within and without the main castle, has been often compared to the earlier Norman keeps; some of the largest gatehouses are called gatehouse keeps for this reason.

Another approach to castle design that removed the need for a keep was the quadrangular
Quadrangular castle
A quadrangular castle or courtyard castle is a type of castle characterised by ranges of buildings which are integral with the curtain walls, enclosing a central ward or quadrangle, and typically with angle towers. There is no keep and frequently no distinct gatehouse...

 castle design that emerged in France during the 13th century. Castles had needed additional living space since their first emergence in the 9th century; initially this had been achieved with building halls in the bailey, then later cleverly building ranges of chambers alongside the inside of a bailey wall, such as at Goodrich
Goodrich Castle
Goodrich Castle is a now ruinous Norman medieval castle situated to the north of the village of Goodrich in Herefordshire, England, controlling a key location between Monmouth and Ross-on-Wye...

. French designs in the late 12th century, however, overcame the problem of space by taking the layout of a contemporary unfortified manor house, in which the rooms would face around a central, rectangular courtyard, and building a exterior wall around them to form a castle. The result, illustrated initially at Yonne
Château de Tanlay
The Château de Tanlay at Tanlay is a French château built in Burgundy during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, famous for its beauty and the setting. The walls are of limestone under tall sloping slate roofs à la française, surrounding three sides of a central court with cylindrical towers...

, and later at Château de Farcheville
Château de Farcheville
The Château de Farcheville is a 14th century castle in Bouville near Paris in the department of Essonne.The castle was built by the Hugues II and Hugues III, Lords of Farcheville and Bouville. The great hall was built in 1291 and the castle chapel was consacrated in 1304. Both father and son were...

, produced a characteristic quadrangular layout, four large, circular corner towers, but lacked a keep, which was not needed to support this design.

Late medieval keeps (14th - 16th centuries)

The end of the medieval period saw a fresh resurgence in the building of keeps in western castles. Some castles continued to be built without keeps: the Bastille
The Bastille was a fortress in Paris, known formally as the Bastille Saint-Antoine. It played an important role in the internal conflicts of France and for most of its history was used as a state prison by the kings of France. The Bastille was built in response to the English threat to the city of...

 in the 1370s, for example, combined a now traditional quadrangular design with machicolated corner towers, gatehouses and moat, the walls, innovatively, were of equal height to the towers. This fashion became copied across French and in England, particularly amongst the nouveau riche
Nouveau riche
The nouveau riche , or new money, comprise those who have acquired considerable wealth within their own generation...

, for example at Nunney
Nunney Castle
Nunney Castle is a castle in Nunney, Somerset, England. Built in the late 14th century by Sir John Delamare on the profits of his involvement in the Hundred Years War, the moated castle's architectural style, possibly influenced by the design of French castles, has provoked considerable academic...

. The royalty and the very wealthiest in France, England and Spain, however, began to construct a small number of keeps on a much larger scale than before, in England sometimes termed tower keeps, as part of new palace fortresses. This shift reflected political and social pressures, such as the desire of the wealthiest lords to have privacy from their growing households of retainers, as well as the various architectural ideas being exchanged across the region, despite the ongoing Hundred Years War between France and England.

The resurgence in French keep design began after the defeat of the royal armies at the battles of Crécy
Battle of Crécy
The Battle of Crécy took place on 26 August 1346 near Crécy in northern France, and was one of the most important battles of the Hundred Years' War...

 in 1346 and Poitiers
Battle of Poitiers (1356)
The Battle of Poitiers was fought between the Kingdoms of England and France on 19 September 1356 near Poitiers, resulting in the second of the three great English victories of the Hundred Years' War: Crécy, Poitiers, and Agincourt....

 in 1356, which caused high levels of social unrest across the remaining French territories. Charles V of France
Charles V of France
Charles V , called the Wise, was King of France from 1364 to his death in 1380 and a member of the House of Valois...

 attempted to restore French royal authority and prestige through the construction of a new range of castles. The Château de Vincennes
Château de Vincennes
The Château de Vincennes is a massive 14th and 17th century French royal castle in the town of Vincennes, to the east of Paris, now a suburb of the metropolis.-History:...

, where a new keep was completed under Charles by 1380, was the first example of these palace fortresses. The keep at Vincennes was highly innovative: six stories high, with a chemin de ronde
Chemin de ronde
A chemin de ronde — also called an allure or, more prosaically, a wall-walk — is a raised, protected walkway behind a castle battlement....

running around the machicolated
A machicolation is a floor opening between the supporting corbels of a battlement, through which stones, or other objects, could be dropped on attackers at the base of a defensive wall. The design was developed in the Middle Ages when the Norman crusaders returned. A machicolated battlement...

 battlements, the luxuriously appointed building was protected by an enceinte
Enceinte , is a French term used technically in fortification for the inner ring of fortifications surrounding a town or a concentric castle....

wall that formed a "fortified envelope" around the keep. The Vincennes keep was copied elsewhere across France, particularly as the French kings reconquered territories from the English, encouraging a style that emphasised very tall keeps with prominent machicolations. No allowance for the emerging new gunpowder weapons was made in these keeps, although later in the century gunports were slowly being added, as for example by Charles VI
Charles VI of France
Charles VI , called the Beloved and the Mad , was the King of France from 1380 to 1422, as a member of the House of Valois. His bouts with madness, which seem to have begun in 1392, led to quarrels among the French royal family, which were exploited by the neighbouring powers of England and Burgundy...

 to his keep at Saint-Malo
Saint-Malo is a walled port city in Brittany in northwestern France on the English Channel. It is a sub-prefecture of the Ille-et-Vilaine.-Demographics:The population can increase to up to 200,000 in the summer tourist season...

The French model spread into Iberia in the second half of the century, where the most powerful nobles in Castile
Kingdom of Castile
Kingdom of Castile was one of the medieval kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula. It emerged as a political autonomous entity in the 9th century. It was called County of Castile and was held in vassalage from the Kingdom of León. Its name comes from the host of castles constructed in the region...

 built a number of similar tall keeps, such as that at Peñafiel
Peñafiel Castle
Peñafiel Castle is located in Valladolid Province, Spain.- See also :* Peñafiel, Spain...

, taking advantage of the weakness of the Castilian Crown during the period. Henry IV of Castile
Henry IV of Castile
Henry IV , King of the Crown of Castile, nicknamed the Impotent , was the last of the weak late medieval kings of Castile...

 responded in the 15th century by creating a sequence of royal castles with prominent keeps at the Castle of La Mota
Castle of La Mota
thumb|250px|Side view.The Castle of the La Mota or Castillo de La Mota is a reconstructed medieval fortress, located in the town of Medina del Campo, province of Valladolid, Spain. It is so named because of its location on an elevated hill, a mota, from where it dominates the town and surrounding...

, Portillo
Portillo, Valladolid
Portillo, Valladolid is a municipality in Valladolid, Spain. In 2001 it had 2 574 inhabitants....

 and Alcázar of Segovia
Alcázar of Segovia
The Alcázar of Segovia is a stone fortification, located in the old city of Segovia, Spain. Rising out on a rocky crag above the confluence of the rivers Eresma and Clamores near the Guadarrama mountains, it is one of the most distinctive castle-palaces in Spain by virtue of its shape - like the...

: built to particular proportions, these keeps became known as a key element of the Valladolid school of Spanish castle design. Smaller versions of these keeps were subsequently built by many aspiring new aristocracy in Spain, including many converted Jews, keen to improve their social prestige and position in society. The French model of tall keeps was also echoed in some German castles, such as that at Karlštejn
Karlštejn Castle is a large Gothic castle founded 1348 AD by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor-elect and King of Bohemia. The castle served as a place for safekeeping the Imperial Regalia as well as the Bohemian/Czech coronation jewels, holy relics and other royal treasures...

, although the layout and positioning of these towers still followed the existing bergfried model, rather than that in western castles.

The 15th and 16th centuries saw a small number of English and occasional Welsh castles develop still grander keeps. The first of these large tower keeps were built in the north of England during the 14th century, at locations such as Warkworth
Warkworth Castle
Warkworth Castle is a ruined medieval building in the town of the same name in the English county of Northumberland. The town and castle occupy a loop of the River Coquet, less than a mile from England's north-east coast...

. They were probably partially inspired by designs in France, but they also reflected the improvements in the security along the Scottish border during the period, and the regional rise of major noble families such as the Percies
Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland
Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland, 4th Baron Percy, titular King of Mann, KG, Lord Marshal was the son of Henry de Percy, 3rd Baron Percy and a descendent of Henry III of England. His mother was Mary of Lancaster, daughter of Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster, son of Edmund, Earl of Leicester and...

 and the Nevilles
House of Neville
The House of Neville is a noble house of early medieval origin, which was a leading force in English politics in the later middle ages...

, whose wealth encouraged a surge in castle building at the end of the 14th century. New castles at Raby
Raby Castle
Raby Castle is situated near Staindrop in County Durham and is one of the largest inhabited castles in England. The Grade I listed building has opulent eighteenth and nineteenth century interiors inside a largely unchanged, late medieval shell. It is the home and seat of John Vane, 11th Baron...

, Bolton
Bolton Castle
Bolton Castle in North Yorkshire, is located in Wensleydale in the Yorkshire Dales . The nearby village Castle Bolton takes its name from the castle. The castle is a Grade I listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The castle was damaged in the English Civil War, but much of it remains...

 and Warkworth Castle took the quadrangular castle styles of the south and combined them with exceptionally large tower keeps to form a distinctive, northern style. Built by major noble houses, these castles were typically even more opulent than the smaller castles like Nunney, built by the nouveau riche. They marked what historian Anthony Emery has described as a "...second peak of castle building in England and Wales," following on from the Edwardian designs at the end of the 14th century.
In the 15th century the fashion for the creation of very expensive, French-influenced palatial castles featuring complex tower keeps spread, with new keeps being built at Wardour
Wardour Castle
Wardour Castle is located at Wardour, near Tisbury in the English county of Wiltshire, about west of Salisbury. The original castle was partially destroyed during the Civil War...

, Tattershall and Raglan Castle
Raglan Castle
Raglan Castle is a late medieval castle located just north of the village of Raglan in the county of Monmouthshire in south east Wales. The modern castle dates from between the 15th and early 17th-centuries, when the successive ruling families of the Herberts and the Somersets created a luxurious,...

. In central and eastern England some keeps began to be built in brick, with Caister
Caister Castle
Caister Castle is a 15th-century moated castle situated in the parish of West Caister, some north of the town of Great Yarmouth in the English county of Norfolk ....

 and Tattershall forming examples of this trend. In Scotland, the construction of Holyrood Great Tower
Holyrood Palace
The Palace of Holyroodhouse, commonly referred to as Holyrood Palace, is the official residence of the monarch in Scotland. The palace stands at the bottom of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, at the opposite end to Edinburgh Castle...

 between 1528 and 1532 drew on this English tradition, but incorporated additional French influences to produce a highly secure but comfortable keep, guarded by a gun park. These tower keeps were expensive buildings to construct, each built to a unique design for a specific lord and, as historian Norman Pounds has suggested, they "...were designed to allow very rich men to live in luxury and splendour."

At the same time as these keeps were being built by the extremely wealthy, much smaller, keep-like structures called tower house
Tower house
A tower house is a particular type of stone structure, built for defensive purposes as well as habitation.-History:Tower houses began to appear in the Middle Ages, especially in mountain or limited access areas, in order to command and defend strategic points with reduced forces...

s or peel tower
Peel tower
Peel towers are small fortified keeps or tower houses, built along the English and Scottish borders in the Scottish Marches and North of England, intended as watch towers where signal fires could be lit by the garrison to warn of approaching danger...

s were built across Ireland, Scotland and northern England, often by relatively poorer local lords and landowners. It was originally argued that Irish tower houses were based on the Scottish design, but the pattern of development of such castles in Ireland does not support this hypothesis. A tower house would typically be a tall, square, stone-built, crenelated building; Scottish and Ulster tower houses were often also surrounded by a barmkyn
Barmkin, also spelled barmekin or barnekin, is a Scots word which refers to a form of medieval and later defensive enclosure, typically found around smaller castles, tower houses, pele towers, and bastle houses in Scotland, and the north of England. It has been suggested that etymologically the...

 or bawn
A bawn is the defensive wall surrounding an Irish tower house. It is the anglicised version of the Irish word badhún meaning "cattle-stronghold" or "cattle-enclosure". The Irish word for "cow" is bó and its plural is ba...

 wall. Most academics have concluded that tower houses should not be classified as keeps but rather as a form of fortified house.

As the 16th century progressed, keeps fell out of fashion once again. In England, the gatehouse also began to supplant the keep as the key focus for a new castle development. By the 15th century it was increasingly unusual for a lord to build both a keep and a large gatehouse at the same castle, and by the early 16th century the gatehouse had easily overtaken the keep as the more fashionable feature: indeed, almost no new keeps were built in England after this period. The classical Palladian style began to dominate European architecture during the 17th century, causing a further move away from the use of keeps. Buildings in this style usually required considerable space for the enfiladed
Enfilade (architecture)
In architecture, an enfilade is a suite of rooms formally aligned with each other. This was a common feature in grand European architecture from the Baroque period onwards, although there are earlier examples, such as the Vatican stanze...

 formal rooms that became essential for modern palaces by the middle of the century, and this style was impossible to fit into a traditional keep. The keep at Bolsover Castle
Bolsover Castle
Bolsover Castle is a castle in Bolsover, Derbyshire, England .-History:It was built by the Peverel family in the 12th century and became Crown property in 1155 when the third William Peverel fled into exile...

 in England was one of the few to be built as part of a Palladian design.

Later use and destruction of keeps (17th - 21st centuries)

From the 17th century onwards, some keeps were deliberately destroyed. In England, many were destroyed after the end of the Second English Civil War
Second English Civil War
The Second English Civil War was the second of three wars known as the English Civil War which refers to the series of armed conflicts and political machinations which took place between Parliamentarians and Royalists from 1642 until 1652 and also include the First English Civil War and the...

 in 1649, when Parliament took steps to prevent another royalist uprising by slighting
A slighting is the deliberate destruction, partial or complete, of a fortification without opposition. During the English Civil War this was to render it unusable as a fort.-Middle Ages:...

, or damaging, castles so as to prevent them from having any further military utility. Slighting was quite expensive and took considerable effort to carry out, so damage was usually done in the most cost efficient fashion with only selected walls being destroyed. Keeps were singled out for particular attention in this process because of their continuing political and cultural importance, and the prestige they lent their former royalist owners - at Kenilworth
Kenilworth Castle
Kenilworth Castle is located in the town of the same name in Warwickshire, England. Constructed from Norman through to Tudor times, the castle has been described by architectural historian Anthony Emery as "the finest surviving example of a semi-royal palace of the later middle ages, significant...

, for example, only the keep was slighted, and at Raglan
Raglan Castle
Raglan Castle is a late medieval castle located just north of the village of Raglan in the county of Monmouthshire in south east Wales. The modern castle dates from between the 15th and early 17th-centuries, when the successive ruling families of the Herberts and the Somersets created a luxurious,...

 the keep was the main focus of parliamentary activity. There were some equivalent destruction of keeps in France in the 17th and 18th centuries, such as the slighting of Montaiguillon
Château de Montaiguillon
The Château de Montaiguillon is a ruined castle in the commune of Louan-Villegruis-Fontaine in the Seine-et-Marne département of France.The castle dates from the 12th century. Partially ruined and abandoned, it is privately owned....

 by Cardinal Richelieu in 1624, but the catalogue of damage was far less than that of the 1640s and early 1650s in England.

In England, ruined medieval castles became fashionable again in the middle of the 18th century. They were considered an interesting counterpoint to Palladian classical architecture, and gave a degree of medieval allure to their owners. Some keeps were modified to exaggerate this effect: Hawarden, for example, was remodelled to appear taller but also more decayed, the better to produce a good silhouette. The interest continued, and in the late 18th and 19th century it became fashionable to build intact, replica castles in England, resulting in what A. Rowan has called the Norman style of new castle building, characterised by the inclusion of large keeps; the final replica keep to be built in this way was at Penrhyn
Penrhyn Castle
Penrhyn Castle is a country house in Llandegai, Bangor, Gwynedd, North Wales, in the form of a Norman castle. It was originally a medieval fortified manor house, founded by Ednyfed Fychan. In 1438, Ioan ap Gruffudd was granted a licence to crenellate and he founded the stone castle and added a...

 between 1820 and 1840.
Where there was an existing castle on a site, another response across 19th-century Europe was to attempt to improve the buildings, bringing their often chaotic historic features into line with a more integrated architectural aesthetic, in a style often termed Gothic Revivalism
Gothic Revival architecture
The Gothic Revival is an architectural movement that began in the 1740s in England...

. There were numerous attempts to restore or rebuild keeps so as to produce this consistently Gothic style: in England, the architect Anthony Salvin
Anthony Salvin
Anthony Salvin was an English architect. He gained a reputation as an expert on medieval buildings and applied this expertise to his new buildings and his restorations...

 was particularly prominent – as illustrated by reworking and heightening of the keep at Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle is a medieval castle and royal residence in Windsor in the English county of Berkshire, notable for its long association with the British royal family and its architecture. The original castle was built after the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror. Since the time of Henry I it...

, while in France, Eugène Viollet-le-Duc
Eugène Viollet-le-Duc
Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc was a French architect and theorist, famous for his interpretive "restorations" of medieval buildings. Born in Paris, he was a major Gothic Revival architect.-Early years:...

 reworked the keeps at castles in locations like Pierrefonds
Château de Pierrefonds
The Château de Pierrefonds is a castle situated in the commune of Pierrefonds in the Oise département of France. It is on the southeast edge of the Forest of Compiègne, north of Paris, between Villers-Cotterêts and Compiègne....

 during the 1860s and 1870s, admittedly in a largely speculative fashion, since the original keep had been mostly destroyed in 1617.

The Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

 and First and Second World Wars in the 20th century caused damage to many castle keeps across Europe; in particular, the famous keep at Coucy
Château de Coucy
The Château de Coucy is a French castle in the commune of Coucy-le-Château-Auffrique, in the département of Aisne, built in the 13th century and renovated by Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th...

 was destroyed by the German Army
German Army (German Empire)
The German Army was the name given the combined land forces of the German Empire, also known as the National Army , Imperial Army or Imperial German Army. The term "Deutsches Heer" is also used for the modern German Army, the land component of the German Bundeswehr...

 in 1917. By the late 20th century, however, the conservation of castle keeps formed part of government policy across France, England, Ireland and Spain. In the 21st century in England, most keeps are ruined and form part of the tourism
Tourism is travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people "traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes".Tourism has become a...

 and heritage
Cultural heritage
Cultural heritage is the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes of a group or society that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations...

 industries, rather than being used as functioning buildings - the keep of Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle
Windsor Castle is a medieval castle and royal residence in Windsor in the English county of Berkshire, notable for its long association with the British royal family and its architecture. The original castle was built after the Norman invasion by William the Conqueror. Since the time of Henry I it...

 being a rare exception. This is contrast to the fate of bergfried towers in Germany, large numbers of which were restored as functional buildings in the late 19th and early 20th century, often as government offices or youth hostels, or the modern conversion of tower houses, which in many cases have become modernised domestic homes.
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