The very word 'dungeon' conjures up a dark vision of one of the most infamous parts of a castle:
- What were dungeons like?
- Who were thrown into dungeons?
- Were Instruments of Torture used on prisoners?
Description of the Castle Dungeon
The dungeon was a dark cell which was usually found in an underground room of one of the towers of a castle. It was different from the ordinary prison in being more severe as a place of punishment.
Purpose of the Castle Dungeon
The purpose of the Castle Dungeon was intended for holding prisoners and in extreme cases for torturing them.
Origin, Meaning of the word 'Dungeon'
The Origin and Meaning of the word 'Dungeon' derives from the French word 'Donjon'. Castle Towers were called Donjons. Nobles moved from the towers to more easily accessible living quarters and important prisoners were held in the 'donjons'. As time passed these towers for prisoners ceased to be built and prisons were built below ground level - the dungeon!
Instruments of Torture used in the Castle Dungeon
The Castle Dungeon was a terrifying prison. In extreme circumstances the Dungeon was also used as a place to torture prisoners - there screams could not be easily heard anywhere else in the Castle. The Instruments of torture used on Medieval Prisoners included Branding Irons, the Rack, the Scavenger's Daughter, the Collar. Other types of torture included Whipping, Pressing, Boiling in oil water or lead, Starvation and Cutting off various items of the anatomy - hands, ears etc
Castle Dungeon - Part of a Medieval Castle
The Castle Dungeons was introduced with Plantagenet castles during the Medieval period 1154 - 1485. The most prolific of the castle builders were the Plantagenet English King, Edward I. These great old castles were built for Medieval warfare and defence and new parts of the castle were designed accordingly including a prison for any captives!