Reposted from June 8, 2013:
You’re invited to take a Tour of the Grounds of Hearthing Castle!
Click on either the picture at top, and the link should take you to view the video presentation.
A little more information about Hearthing Castle:
It isn’t your typical castle. This castle only exists on paper. Aside from the walls and a general layout that is castle-ish, it would be a huge pain to defend! This is because Hearthing Castle was never really intended as serious protection against assault by an opposing force.
Oh, sure; when the castle was first built, the builders had some concerns about the possibility of marauding giants, but their ambitious building program outlasted any actual threat. The curtain wall mainly exists to block the chill winds that sweep across Astarkand in the winter, and to provide a handy place for the king’s guards to stroll and look decorative when they’re on duty.
Hearthing Tower was the first building raised to protect the large band of men, women and children who had made the dangerous trek north from Taesleica, back at the beginning of Astarkand’s founding. The hall at the base was large enough to house them all that first winter. Later, more floors were added as needed. Construction on the curtain wall began at almost the same time as the construction of the tower, although it took several generations to finish it to a height that was thought at the time to be adequate.
Later, as the population of Astarkand grew and spread out from that small group huddled in the tower, the kitchens and kitchen cellars were added, and also more floors above the kitchens. The royal residence, the north wing, and Knights Row were added next. The Audience Hall, Castle West, and the south wing were added last. Sheds, castle industries, and cottages sprang up along the outer walls. The barracks and stables were rebuilt more than once before reaching their present proportions.
As the population of Astarkand grew even larger, a town sprang on the slopes of the hill below the castle. By the time the town was built, the Kandians had realized that the giants they feared weren’t going to be an issue (the giants had mysteriously disappeared), but they still feared the dangerous wild beasts that roamed at will.
Bears, wolves, wolverines and northern garcats were a serious danger to life and limb before the town wall was raised.
Since Astarkand has become more settled, the larger predators have mostly disappeared from the duchies. They can still be found prowling in the forests along the northern and western edges of the kingdom. Wolves still run in packs in Astarkand proper, and are seen more of when a winter is particularly severe.
Hearthing Castle has lately entered the process of becoming more of a seat of government and less of a domicile for royalty and retainers. What used to be apartments and chambers where nobles lived on the ground floors of the main wings are now government offices dedicated to the running of the kingdom. What good fairy tale kingdom can survive, after all, without its nameless functionaries handling all the red tape?
Obtain more glimpses of daily life in Hearthing Castle from my books, A Shadow On The Land, King’s Ride, and Eiathan’s Heir (books 1, 2, and 3 of the Legends of Astarkand series).
Reader’s Challenge: create your own castle, take a photo, and send it to me!