Medieval Buildings and their types
As with modern buildings, medieval buildings serve different functions. Each of those functions in many ways define the architecture of the building, the materials used, the maintenance required and of course the time that it takes for them to be built.
Generally medieval buildings are separated into
- Private Buildings
- Public Buildings
- Business Buildings
- Industrial/Manufacturing Buildings
- Military Buildings
- Religious Buildings
- Infrastructure Buildings
Private medieval buildings
Private buildings mostly consist of several types of housing ranging from a wattle and daub hut to a glorious stone villa. Private homes can vary widely but due to the amount of people normally served by them the maintenance cost remains fairly low. The construction time and cost of these buildings is primarily defined by their size and the materials that they are built from.
Public medieval buildings
Public buildings include structures like baths, parks, halls, gardens, market squares, piers, Granaries etc. Public buildings are built for endurance so the quality of materials that are constructed tends to be much higher than the average private building. In addition to that, these buildings are made to server a large amount of people, possibly, everyday which means that constructing the building in a way that the maintenance costs will be low is paramount.
Business medieval buildings
Business medieval buildings include shops, warehouses and service buildings like inns, stables etc. When it comes to their construction, In many ways these buildings are considered to be very close to public buildings with the difference that they are privately owned and as that their quality varies depending on the available assets of the owner. For example a tradesman might be selling jewels and need to be well protected within a stone structure that will make it harder to criminals to steal his wares but a cabbage farmer only needs a wooden stool in a market square.
Industrial and Manufacturing medieval buildings
Industrial and Manufacturing medieval buildings include, Forges, Mills, Bakeries, Workshops, Smithies, Carpenters, Masons etc. These buildings possess special features which raise their cost and need to be in general more sturdy than a shop in order to accommodate their needs. For example Mills need to have a reinforced structure in order to be able to support the weight of a water-mill or a the sails of a wind mill. and a Mason’s workshop uses much sturdier wood in order to frame the structure since moving and storing slabs of stone can be strenuous to a building which is not built to do so.
Almost in their entirety are build primarily from stone and most of them actually use various techniques to reinforce the walls of their buildings in order to make them less susceptible to enemy attacks. Having said that Wooden military buildings do exist but even those are reinforced one way of another. Since military buildings are constructed knowing that damage to them is imminent, the ability to be repaired quickly and effectively is quite important. This means that due to their modular design military buildings not only take much longer time due to their construction material but are also extremely intricate in their spartan simplicity to build.
Religious medieval buildings need to inspire awe and to make their visitors feel they are in contact with the divine. Due to that Religious building apart from inheriting the properties of public buildings in terms of their quality they also employ a variety of intricate architectural tricks to create a sense of grandeur. in addition to that these buildings, in most cases, are heavily ornate with statues, painting, frescos, wood and stone carvings and details of precious metal and stones which make them extremely expensive to build. Most of religious buildings are built in several stages that dress and/or expand the building throughout their life time.
Medieval infrastructure buildings need to last for as long time as possible. It is also important that their design is utilitarian. aqueducts, sewers, reservoirs, customs buildings, public warehouses, transportation network buildings, bridges, entertainment buildings (theatres, great halls) and education buildings (grammar schools, universities and seminaries fall under this category. In contrary to Religious buildings most of these structures were built in one stage and their opening constituted a good reason for celebration. In many cases the construction of buildings of that type was enough to revitalise the economy of the whole region. As with public buildings, medieval and greco-roman classical age buildings had to accommodate a large amount of people and thus, requiring a low cost maintenance was factored in during their construction. This meant that more expensive materials and better craftsmanship was required.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this article. We will soon be talking about building materials and how these were used
If you have any questions please let us know!
Infrastructure buildings are on your list, but I don’t see them discussed. What type of buildings fall into this category?
Whoops, keen eye Larry, I have forgotten to paste in a whole paragraph. Thank you for that. I will be posting probably today.
i think he did good
Thanks for this useful article! I Used it for my research product. Nice use of words, Didn’t copy and paste though, of course, but I was tempted too because it was so well written. That coulld’ve aced my project 😉
Spelled a few things wrong there, sorry. It’s late 🙂
You can use it as it is as long as you cite the site – This is what it is here for, as a resource.
Thanks for the site!! Helped me a bunch on my set design project.
You are very welcome Nina – let us know if there is anything else we could help you with
What about the infrastructure buildings?
Define infrastructure buildings Andrew what did you have in mind?
Are you going to make any other articles about medieval era things? Maybe siege weapons or soldiers?
Good day Andrew, yes of course we are. We didn’t go into warfare just yet but we have a huge backlog of military specific articles coming soon involving everything from skirmish, large scale battlefield, siege and naval warfare
Hey brand new user are here! I would love to see an article about where certain buildings are in relation to where people live in medieval towns or cities. For instance, Would a Smith be anywhere near the bulk of the population?
Very interesting question Richard, we do actually have some information about that. I will see what I can do. Keep in touch!
Thank you! Love the site 🙂
Just returned from Portugal. Many of the castles had a stand along column in the square. No statue on top and they did not appear to be religious. Were they the early stockade for punishment?
Thank you, Russell
What happened to Infrastructure Buildings. I came across that but didn’t find anything.
I am really sorry for this, I am not sure what happened there – Infrastructure buildings are not added!
Thank you for this it helped me with my social studies homework
Hi Dimitris,this website is exactly what i was looking for,its precise and almost has all the information to make a medieval city building game,nice work ,keep it up.I have a few questions,
1. if there were no stone deposits nearby did the lords import the stones required for their manor houses?was it worth importing?
2. did the lords provide tools for the serfs?or were they expected to own it from the beginning
3. did the lord provide food,arms for the soldiers or were they expected to fend for themselves
Thanks in advance!!!
Amazing! I’ve been searching the internet for Medievalists and RPG lovers like myself, and I’ve finally found my place! And I get to learn new things here as a bonus! Thank you very much, and I hope you continue this.
Hey Elspeth! You should join us on our new endeavour – Check out https://www.worldanvil.com 🙂
dude so much information my heads about to blow