Description of the Castle Drawbridge
The Castle Drawbridge was a moveable, heavy, wooden bridge which spanned the width of a castle moat or ditch. The drawbridge consisted of a wooden platform with one hinged side fixed to the castle wall and the other side raised by rope or chains. It would be raised vertically and dropped down again when danger had passed. The drawbridge would connect a road to the entrance of a castle, the Barbican and the Gatehouse. The Barbican was an exterior walled defensive passage with a portcullis and multiple gates leading to the Gatehouse. The purpose of a drawbridge was to allow, hinder or prevent easy entry into a Medieval castle. The drawbridge was made to move in a variety of ways:
- The earliest type of drawbridge were completely removable - they would be drawn up on to a platform
- They were then mechanically raised or lowered
The drawbridge could be raised , lowered or drawn aside by several methods:
- Using a system of ropes and pulleys
- Ropes were later replaced with chains
- Counter weights were developed to ease the effort of raising of the drawbridge
The Castle Drawbridge - A Modern Bascule Bridge
The Drawbridge is now described as a Bascule type of bridge - a bascule bridge tilts upward to open. The drawbridge works by counterbalance so that when one end is lowered the other is raised - so that when one end is lowered the other is raised - the seesaw principle - moved by weights.
Parts of a Medieval Drawbridge
Some of the working parts of a Medieval drawbridge are described as follows:
- Rainures or Gaffs were the recesses for the counterbalance beams
- Trunnions were axles on which a drawbridge turned - one of a pair of projecting pivots
- Windlass was a mechanical device used to raise and lower the drawbridge
A late design of the Drawbridge combined its mechanism with that of the Portcullis - when the Portcullis was dropped the Drawbridge was automatically raised.
The Drawbridge was introduced with Norman and Plantagenet castles during the Medieval period 1066 - 1485. The old Medieval Castles were a symbol of wealth and power and were often the centre of historic battles and Medieval sieges. These great old castles were built for Medieval warfare and defence and new parts of the castle were designed accordingly! This section of 'Castles' provides interesting facts and information about the many different parts of Castles! The Drawbridge was an essential Castle part as a form of defence against intruders.