Saturday, February 24, 2024

Fun Facts About Medieval Stairways

I'm always writing adventures of some sort and I like to explore the intricate details of  'things' in an attempt to ground the adventure with these details. My Pintrest has a section dedicated to the anatomy and or terminology of things. Tonight, I was checking for names of stair parts. I went down a shallow rabbit hole and thought I'd share some of the things I thought were interesting. I have no idea if these are fact or fiction. 

  • Stairs were build in tight, steep spirals when castles were fortifications, before they became noble homes. 
  • Stairs were built clockwise. To give the defenders an advantage. They assumed the majority of soldiers would be right-handed. Some militaries required their men to fight ambidextrous. I've never read this before, but I think it could make an interesting nuisance.  
  • The above fact is disputed (but still cool) and some say stairways were built clockwise so folks could run their hand on the righthand wall for balance. To compensate for the too-much-grog-walk?
  • Some argue that the newel staircases are so small with no handrails that there was no room for swinging weapons (although it would be a hell of place for a dagger fight) and both combatants would fall to their deaths. A step does1d6 damage. 
  • One other point, I think the best one, if the attackers are already inside running up the stairs, the fight is lost. The attackers are now mopping up and looking for loot. 
  • Steps were built uneven. This gave defenders 'homefield' advantage as they were accustom to the idiosyncrasies of the steps and could take advantage of the situation when an attacker tripped on the uneven step. Also known as a trip step.
If you have any other fun facts about castle stairs please let me know. I was looking around and these seemed to be the ones that came up frequently.