Medieval Siege Engines and Machine
Over the centuries many different techniques were employed to siege castles. Here were some of the simpler (less technological) ways that castles were sieged. These techniques were used more often in the early centuries of castles. As technology improved and siege engines were developed the engines were more often used because they were quicker to bring about the fall of the castle.
Deception: Spies were used to infiltrate the castle. They could, at night, open the castle gates or wreak havoc on the interior defenses of the castle. The most famous case of this tactic is the Trojan Horse.
The Siege Arms Race - Castles, and how they were sieged developed over the centuries in a medieval style arms race. All of the siege tactics shown above were replaced by large medieval weapons. These weapons could bring down the fortress walls quickly and efficiently. But castles too adapted by building stronger, taller, and thicker walls. They even used concentric walls with walls inside walls. Once the art of explosives developed reasonably well and artillery became accurate and reliable castles fell out of favor in that they could not provide adequate defense. The castles then became more of a fortified place for royalty to live. NOVA: Medieval Siege
Some of the Means of Sieging a Castle
Catapults - A catapult was a large machine used to throw objects, often rocks, arrows, pots of fire, or even spears, at a castle. This would destroy the castle walls and buildings. When we think of a catapult the one shown here is what we envision. But more often than not the catapults used for sieging didn't have the cup that you put the thrown object into. They usually had a sling. This sling could generate more force and throw the object further with more accuracy. This sling effect was later developed into the Trebuchet. Shown in picture: Schleich Catapult
Trebuchet - Similar to the catapult in that it was designed to throw large objects but it was more efficient than a catapult because it could be built faster and at less cost. Yet it could throw heavier objects even furhter. The basic theory of the Trebuchet was like that of a see saw. One end had a heavy weight. The other end extended much longer and had a sling where the thrown object was put. When the trebuchet was activated the heavy weight would fall and the swinging of the see-saw would propel the object. Medieval Siege Weapons (1): Western Europe AD 585-1385 (New Vanguard)
Battering Rams: They were large mechanical objects, often on wheels that were used to ram the walls and doors of a castle in an attempt to break them down. Often times battering rams were part of a siege tower. The image at left shows early roman era battering rams. They have wooden structures around them to protect the operators of the ram.
Siege Towers: Were wooden towers often built at the site of the siege. They were built to the height of the castle walls and were on wheels so they could be rolled up to the wall. Then the attackers could cross right over into the castle. Often times they had battering rams like the one shown here.
Counter Measures that Castles Took in defense against sieges