If you have ever been watching Game of Thrones and asked yourself “hey, why DID they have stairs in castles that were spiral?” — wonder no more.
User nasanerd09 finally took the time (and did the research) on why exactly this was the case and royal families did this to add another layer of protection to their castles (in addition to their moats and fire-breathing dragons of course.)
“Medieval castle stairs were often built to ascend in narrow, clockwise spirals so right-handed castle defenders could use their swords more easily. This design put those on the way up at a disadvantage (unless they were left-handed). The steps were also uneven to give defenders the advantage of anticipating each step’s size while attackers tripped over them.”
“Wider, less steep designs [tended] to come later once castles moved away from being fortresses to simply noble family homes with the advent of gunpowder .. strategically-placed walls were used basically worldwide as a strategy to secure gates and passages against advancing attackers, because most of the world’s population is right-handed (and has been since the Stone Age).
User nasanerd09 went onto explain just how each design to protect ones castle.
“Notice that, with the exception of the last four [pictured below] (which are instead designed to congregate the attackers in a space so they can be picked off by archers, either in bastions or on the walls themselves) and the screened gate (which, in addition to being baffled, also forces the attackers to defend their flank) all of these gates are designed with central architectural idea that it’s really hard to kill someone with a wall in your way.”
“In every culture in the world, someone thought to themselves, “Hey it’s hard to swing a weapon with a wall on your right-hand side,” and then specifically built fortifications so that the attackers would always have the wall on their right. And I think that’s really neat.”
Very neat — but mostly for right handers.
“Use of sword and shield is a classic demonstration of how right-handedness predominated. There’s historical mention of left-handed swordsmen (gladiators and Vikings), and what a problem they were for their opponents, but that only applies to single combat.”
And so now the next time you are at jeopardy — you will be prepared to answer and any spiral stair case/left-handed swordsmen. You’re welcome!
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