• What was the Origin, Meaning or Definition of the Barbican
  • Description of a castle Barbican
  • What was the purpose of the Barbican?
  • How did Barbican help with Castle defences?
  • What did the Barbican have in it's ceiling?

Description and Purpose of the Barbican
The Barbican was an exterior castle defence situated at the entrance of the castle.

The Barbican or ‘death trap’ was developed as another way to strengthen the main entrance, by adding more defences in front of it - the Barbican confined the enemy in a narrow passage - an easy target for castle inhabitants! The most common Barbican design was a walled passage projecting from the front of the gatehouse.

  • The Barbican was an exterior walled passage with multiple gates leading to the main entrance ( the Gatehouse) - the Barbican really was a death trap!
  • Defenders would fire arrows from loop holes in the Barbican passage walls
  • Only a small number of men were needed to defend this part of the castle
  • Holes in the ceiling, above the passage - called Murder Holes - allowed defenders to drop boiling water, heavy stones or hot sand on the enemy


Origin, Meaning of the word ‘Barbican’
The idea for the Barbican came from Knights returning form the Crusades. The Origin and Meaning of the word ‘Barbican’ derives from an Old Iranian word ‘parivraka’ meaning protective.

The Barbican was introduced with Norman and Plantagenet Castles during the Medieval period 1066 - 1485. The old Medieval Castleswere a symbol of wealth and power and were often the centre of historic battles and Medieval sieges. These great old Castleswere built for Medieval warfare and defence and new parts of the castle were designed accordingly! Facts and information about the many different parts of Castles! The Barbican was an essential Castle part for as a form of defence against intruders.


Parts of a Castle

  • What were the purpose of the different parts of the Medieval Castle?
  • What was the difference between the parts of a castle called the Garderobe and the Wardrobe?
  • Identifying parts of a castle - Description, purpose and function of the Moat, Dungeon and Portcullis
  • Description, purpose and function of the Barbican, Gatehouse, Crenellations and Drawbridge
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