How Castles Work


Announcer: Welcome to Stuff Mom Never Told You from howstuffworks.com.

Josh Clark: Hey and welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh. There's Chuck. Jeri's over to my right. That would make this Stuff You Should Know, the most overheated, cramped, smelly, sweaty podcast on the market.

Chuck Bryant: I thought you were gonna say overrated.

Josh Clark: No, overheated.

Chuck Bryant: Because we were No. 3 today in front of Mr. Ricky Gervais.

Josh Clark: Right, and since I don't recognize Alvin and the Chipmunks as a podcast, we're technically No. 2.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. Right behind Ira Glass.

Josh Clark: Oh yeah, big surprise.

Chuck Bryant: We love Ira Glass, let's just say that, because people are gonna say, why don't you like This American Life?

Josh Clark: I know. That's the problem with having such a substantial library of podcasts. So when we go back like 50 episodes and revisit a joke, only the really hard core SYSK listeners know what we're talking about. And then people send an email and they get 50 episodes back and they're like, oh, I wish I would have held my tongue.

Chuck Bryant: Can we get on with this?

Josh Clark: Yeah, let's do it, Chuck. Did you ever - were you ever into He-Man, arguably the most homoerotic action figure created?

Chuck Bryant: No, that was - I was a little old for that.

Josh Clark: Well, it was right in my wheelhouses, as you would say.

Chuck Bryant: Yes.

Josh Clark: And I had a little toy that I like to call Castle Grayskull because that's what the manufacturers called it. Have you seen this?

Chuck Bryant: I've heard of it all.

Josh Clark: It was pretty awesome. The cartoon was horrendous. Did you watch the cartoon?

Chuck Bryant: No. I was too old for that. How many times we have to go over my age?

Josh Clark: I don't know. Have you ever heard of the Bay City Rollers?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. I know them personally.

Josh Clark: Anyway, I had this little toy called Castle Grayskull, and it was this big plastic castle, and it was pretty awesome. It had embattlements, it had -

Chuck Bryant: Tower?

Josh Clark: It had towers. It even had a little overhang hanging off the back, and then the front entrance, the tunnel, was a mouth for fangs coming down -

Chuck Bryant: Cool.

Josh Clark: - and it was just generally one of the cooler toys I owned, to tell you the truth. And now that I've read how castles work, I could - were I to go back in time - stand next to my younger self and be like, this is the tower. This is called the Port Collas. This is a murder hole -

Chuck Bryant: And don't start smoking.

Josh Clark: Yes. I would say that.

Chuck Bryant: To young self?

Josh Clark: Oh, my God. If there's one thing I could go back and change.

Chuck Bryant: Really?

Josh Clark: Well, if I had like three or four things I could go back and change, smoking would definitely be one of them.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. I'd be taller. Oh, wait, things you can really change.

Josh Clark: Yeah. I don't - time travel has no effect on your height.

Chuck Bryant: I would tell myself to grow taller.

Josh Clark: Oh, okay.

Chuck Bryant: While I still had the chance.

Josh Clark: So let's talk castles, Chuck.

Chuck Bryant: Okay. Josh, the word castle, like everything almost, is Latin. Comes from the word castellum, which means a fortified place, and that's exactly what it is.

Josh Clark: And the French shortened it, lazy French people that they are, from castellum castle. It means the same thing, and castles are actually very specific buildings. There is very specific features to them that make a castle a castle. They are generally European, although there are some castles found in like the Middle East and Japan, but for the most part, they are European in origin.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. Germany. Lousy with castles.

Josh Clark: Ten thousand of them in Germany alone, and they only actually existed for about 500 years or they only underwent construction for about 500 years during the high middle ages from the 10th to 15th centuries.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. Pretty cool.

Josh Clark: Yeah. So let's talk about the history of castles, and not just historic castles, but the beginning of castles. Where do they come from, Chuck?

Chuck Bryant: Well, Josh, they evolved from the ancient walled cities back in like Troy and Babylon and Jericho. They would have big walls around their cities for fortification. So it evolved from that into - the first ones were called a grod, I believe, is how you pronounce that, or a groad, and that consisted of basically wooden and earthen walls and then a gate with a moat around it, and that would become one of the hallmarks of the castle was the moat.

Josh Clark: Yeah, you have to have a moat or else it's just -

Chuck Bryant: Well, you didn't always.

Josh Clark: - it's not a castle.

Chuck Bryant: It depended on the terrain. Sometimes if you were on like a rocky peak, you didn't have a moat because you couldn't and you didn't need it, but most castles are known for having moats.

Josh Clark: Yeah. That's - thank you for that correction, Chuck. I love to be corrected. There is another kind of castle that eventually became part of the modern - and by modern, I mean high Middle Ages castle - called a bergfried -

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: - which you may suspect is German, but it's actually based on a Roman design, that they would use these watch towers along their frontier and those became the towers of later castles.

Chuck Bryant: Right, Josh, and I believe that brings us to No. 3, which was the motte and bailey castle, and that consisted of a mound, which was the motte, and that's within the open courtyard, which was the bailey, and that of course, as always, is enclosed by a wall and a fortified gate. That's the key.

Josh Clark: Right. So you put all these things together, fill them with bloodthirsty knights and pooping horses, and you have the castle as we recognize and love it.

Chuck Bryant: The whole property.

Josh Clark: Yeah. Okay, so Mr. Smarty Pants, you don't always have to have a moat.

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: But most of them did have moats, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yes.

Josh Clark: So you had a moat, which is really just a ditch dug around the outer wall of the castle.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. What I love about castles, Dude - sorry to interrupt - is everything is so rudimentarily genius.

Josh Clark: You sounded like me just now.

Chuck Bryant: It was all just genius, but it was so basic. They were like, well, we don't want people to get in so let's dig a big ditch around it or let's build a big door with a big brace behind it.

Josh Clark: Yeah. Yeah, and if you - there seems to be a lot of murderousness during this time.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, yeah.

Josh Clark: It was a very violent time.

Chuck Bryant: Sure.

Josh Clark: So most of the technology and ingenuity was based toward effectively killing people in the most horrific ways you could imagine. Right?

Chuck Bryant: So the moat that was used to keep people out -

Josh Clark: Right, and if it were - you could fill it with water - everybody filled it with sewage, human and otherwise -

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: Right?

Chuck Bryant: You don't see that in the movies.

Josh Clark: No, you don't. Because can you imagine how badly that smelled?

Chuck Bryant: Oh, yeah.

Josh Clark: And if you had - you could keep it dry, although again, you would fill it with sewage anyway, and if you kept it dry, likely you would bury sharpened stakes coming out at all angles. So you could push people into it and be like, sayonara, sucker.

Chuck Bryant: That's what they would say in Japan.

Josh Clark: Yeah..

Chuck Bryant: So you got your moat, you got your draw bridge, which - lower the draw bridge, extends over the moat so you can get in and out of the castle.

Josh Clark: And you've got the - you have the outer walls, right, and the outer wall actually - all castles have outer walls. Some have inner walls. We'll get to that in a second. But the outer walls are actually two walls, right.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. Didn't know that either.

Josh Clark: So you have the one wall and then a space and then another wall and then in between the two walls, you fill with - you backfill with rubble or stone or gravel or something that really make these things just like brick shit houses.

Chuck Bryant: Right, and then some castles even had an outer outer wall called a shield wall which was even taller.

Josh Clark: Right, so people could walk along the inside wall and not have their head lopped off with a flaming arrow.

Chuck Bryant: Exactly, which is true. They had those.

Josh Clark: Yeah, they did. That was - a lot of things were made of wood, especially in the early days of castles, and this wood would probably be pretty - well, it's like a big tinderbox is what you were walking around in.

Chuck Bryant: So a flaming arrow goes a long way.

Josh Clark: Yeah, it's very effective, right? There were also overhangs that were initially made of wood that I found pretty cool. You remember I mentioned Castle Grayskull had one?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: Originally these things were called hoardings and they would have arrow loops, which are basically just narrow slits -

Chuck Bryant: Right - so then you can shoot through.

Josh Clark: Right, and they would hang over the front of the castle. So when people were storming the front of the castle, you could shoot them with arrows, the arrow loops, but they also had the coolest sounding things of all time, murder holes.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, I love these.

Josh Clark: Murder holes were holes but you could shoot arrows - so basically if you're standing on a hoarding, there were holes in the floor so you could shoot arrows. Also, you could pour hot oil, hot metals -

Chuck Bryant: Hot whatever.

Josh Clark: Exactly. And the way that the entrances were arranged, the - when you're walking in the entrance of the castle, right, you've crossed over the draw bridge and now you're walking in the tunnel, there's arrow loops on either side of you, and then above, there's murder holes. So if you were able to breach the draw bridge and the gate, you were subject to having all sorts of hot, horrible stuff poured on you and you were in big trouble.

Chuck Bryant: Not fun.

Josh Clark: No.

Chuck Bryant: The other thing they had too, for defense and for protection - well, defense as in defending yourself - was the crenellation, like when you see the top of the tower and it's - one block is higher, then the next block is low, then the next block is higher - that was actually purposely done that way so you could - soldiers could hide behind those blocks, peek around the corner and fire an arrow, then hide behind the tall block again.

Josh Clark: Right, and I would argue that crenellations are the most readily recognizable design of a castle. Because when you think about it, you know the little sandcastle molds, even those have crenellations on them.

Chuck Bryant: You're right.

Josh Clark: If they don't have the crenellations, it's really just a big rectangle.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. You're right.

Josh Clark: Chuck, you were talking about guys hiding behind the blocks of crenellation and then moving to the side and shooting an arrow, they also designed staircases in a clockwise circular fashion.

Chuck Bryant: Coolest fact of the show right here.

Josh Clark: Do you wanna take it, Buddy?

Chuck Bryant: May I?

Josh Clark: Yes, please.

Chuck Bryant: Okay. You're right. It's clockwise while going up. This is because at the time, soldiers were right handed. They fought with their right hand, swung the sword with their right hand. If they were left handed by nature, they were taught to fight with their right because - why?

Josh Clark: Because left-handed people were considered evil -

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: - at the time. Actually, the word sinister means left handed.

Chuck Bryant: So weird.

Josh Clark: Isn't it?

Chuck Bryant: So they designed it counter clockwise up, so if you were flying up the stairs to go fight somebody you had room on your right-hand side to swing your weapon and it wouldn't hit the wall. Isn't that the coolest fact of the whole thing?

Josh Clark: It is, and also if you're running up the stairs and you're an archer, you can draw and you have plenty of room to draw an arrow and shoot it out of one of the arrow loops.

Chuck Bryant: That too.

Josh Clark: Yeah. So, Chuck?

Chuck Bryant: Yes.

Josh Clark: That's the outer wall. We've got the crenellations. We got towers built into it. We have holdings and different variations on the holding.

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: And then you have the inner wall, right. Inside the outer wall, you would have what's called a bailey, which is basically just a big open courtyard. So any time you see knights jousting, like the heartthrob Heath Ledger in A Knight's Tale -

Chuck Bryant: R.I.P.

Josh Clark: Right - where that joust is taking place was actually inside the outside wall of the castle.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, and here's the thing. You wanna - we'll talk about the sieges later, but once you storm into the castle, it's kinda like, great, we're inside, but it's also like, oh, boy, we're inside, because now you're trapped.

Josh Clark: Right.

Chuck Bryant: And all the little dudes up there in the tower and on the walkways all of a sudden just turn around and start firing flaming arrows down at your head.

Josh Clark: Right. Because at the very least, the castle would have an outer wall and then some sort of tower or inner fortification. A lot of the castles actually had an outer wall, then the bailey, and then an inner wall and then within that was the tower. So, yeah, you were just - you were toast basically -

Chuck Bryant: Pretty much.

Josh Clark: - if you made it in, and you weren't - if you were feeling under the weather that day, that was the day you died.

Chuck Bryant: Right. The courtyard, Josh, they also used it as a marketplace. They had festivals and fairs. They did soldier drilling, trained horses and then later once - castles later on became more for like the kings and the noblemen and less military in nature, and they were used for like gardens and fountains, that kind of thing.

Josh Clark: Right. And when the noblemen actually lived in the castles, which they did, but for the most part, castles were originally made for military purposes, but then as the military technology advanced, castles became much less strong or able to withstand attacks.

Chuck Bryant: Sure.

Josh Clark: So what was originally called the keep - actually what was originally called the donjon -

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: - became the keep -

Chuck Bryant: [Speaking French] Da'jon.

Josh Clark: Da'jon.

Chuck Bryant: Or the Don Johnson.

Josh Clark: It was usually pastel - that became the keep and that's where the lord of the manor, whoever owned the futile serfs lived.

Chuck Bryant: Right. The other thing - because obvi ously you need a lot of people to keep up a castle, to work the kitchen, blacksmiths, carpenters - there were residential apartments inside, which you never really think about the fact that they had people living there on site. So it's sort of like a little live, work, play scene way back in the Middle Ages.

Josh Clark: Right. I just assumed that futile lords slaughtered all the workers -

Chuck Bryant: [Inaudible].

Josh Clark: Exactly, yeah. The - there were also chapels, Chuck, and there's a castle in Scotland - and the name escapes me right now - but it is supposedly the most haunted castle in the world.

Chuck Bryant: Wow.

Josh Clark: And the reason why is - one of the things that happened there was the futile lord, the person who owned the castle, his brother was saying mass in the chapel of the castle and he came in and murdered his brother, beheaded him, while he was saying mass.

Chuck Bryant: That's probably bad luck.

Josh Clark: I don't think - I think running over gravestones is on par with that.

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: With your car.

Chuck Bryant: I'd say so.

Josh Clark: Yeah, it's pretty bad stuff.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. So they had chapels. They had live-in priests many times because they went to church every day back then. They had the Great Hall inside the castle, which is what - when you see them drinking the mede and feasting at the big table, it's in The Great Hall. They had storage, obviously, for their food and the horse food and all that kind of stuff.

Josh Clark: And - little known fact - inside the keep, most rooms were heated with a fireplace.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, I saw that.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: That was worthy of putting in here. I thought that was interesting.

Josh Clark: Chuck, one of the things that I hadn't thought of until I read this article, that makes complete sense, is that castles needed to have a self-sufficient water supply.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, yeah.

Josh Clark: So you had to have a well within the castle walls, right. Why?

Chuck Bryant: Well, because if you were trapped in there - and we'll get to the siege later on -

Josh Clark: Oh, that was my segway into the siege.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, really? Well, you need to have your water because when people siege, they kind of basically surround you and say, no one's coming out to get anything.

Josh Clark: Right, for months or years.

Chuck Bryant: For a long time. So you better have your water and your food.

Josh Clark: Right.

Chuck Bryant: And they said it just like that, I think.

Josh Clark: Right.

Chuck Bryant: Actually. I thought you were gonna mention the dungeon. That's why I didn't know you were moving on.

Josh Clark: Well, yeah. The dungeon was originally up high when it was the Don Johnson, like you said, and then that became the keep, and the dungeon was moved down low.

Chuck Bryant: Yes, down low. So that was just another interesting fact, I thought, was dungeons used to be in the upper reaches.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: You always think of dungeon as below the ground.

Josh Clark: Right, but they're harder to escape from.

Chuck Bryant: Exactly, Dude.

Josh Clark: Bingo.

Chuck Bryant: The other thing they had, Josh, besides the wells, because they needed to get their water, was they used cisterns to collect rain water, very green, living type of thing going on back then.

Josh Clark: Right. Right.

Chuck Bryant: Very smart to do so, though.

Josh Clark: Yeah. So Chuck, we were talking about sieges. Remember - remember that?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. Back to sieges.

Josh Clark: So let's say that you have a standing army within your castle and you're a futile lord and you may or may not have just murdered your brother while he was saying mass, but otherwise, everything's hunky dory, and then all of a sudden, an invading army from another nearby lord comes up. So you basically batten down the hatches, to use a metaphor that doesn't really make any sense whatsoever because it's nautical in nature, but basically you try to fight them off as much as possible, but also you've got all of your entrances closed and guarded and you've got people ready with hot oil at the murder holes and all that.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: And like we said, this can last for months or years.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, the impression I got was that a lot of times there was never even any fighting going on when they did the surround-and-wait-you-out technique.

Josh Clark: Right. It actually led to the fewest casualties because a lot of times the invading army could negotiate the surrender of the castle.

Chuck Bryant: Well, true, but the other side of the coin is, if you're going to be the army that surrounds the place, you gotta have your food and water too.

Josh Clark: Right. So people inside the castle would use flaming arrows, catapults with flaming boulders maybe -

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: - and shoot them into the countryside to set it on fire so the invading army couldn't go get supplies from it, right.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, or forge around and hunt and that kind of stuff.

Josh Clark: Right. You could see some invading army guy going, the berries, they're on fire.

Chuck Bryant: That's what we counted on. The other cool thing, too, if you were the invading army, you could catapult - and this is not just for Monty Python - you could catapult like a dead cow, diseased cow -

Josh Clark: Or diseased human.

Chuck Bryant: - or diseased dead human, into - or I guess a diseased live human -

Josh Clark: Sure.

Chuck Bryant: All bets are off.

Josh Clark: I'm not dead yet.

Chuck Bryant: And you can catapult them over the wall and all of a sudden, this bovine diseased animal is just like splattered in the middle of your keep.

Josh Clark: Yeah, and you're in big trouble.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: And I think probably the other reason that laying siege to - well, just waiting - that kind of siege was favored was because - the whole reason you're attacking this castle is to probably get the castle.

Chuck Bryant: I would think so.

Josh Clark: So you want as little damage done to the castle as possible.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, sure.

Josh Clark: Because if it took five, I think, or two to ten years to build a castle, you don't wanna wait that time. You just go wait for some other schmoe to build his and invade it.

Chuck Bryant: And then take it.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: That's a good idea.

Josh Clark: Yeah. That's the Broadwater way.

Chuck Bryant: Right. One of the other ways, Josh - and this, you would think, is right out of the cartoons, but actually happened - to get into a castle, is you would use a scaling ladder and you would put a big tall ladder and you would climb up it but, just like in the cartoon, you could just go up there and push the ladder off once the dudes are on it if you were strong enough or you could shoot the flaming arrows at their head, which is our favorite technique.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: Throw objects down, pour hot oil on them, same deal.

Josh Clark: Right. To get around this, you could create a - what are they called, Chuck, a siege tower?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, build your own portable tower essentially.

Josh Clark: Right, and you have some - a bunch of soldiers inside and they are waiting while some other soldiers down on the ground are pushing this tower right up against - well as close as they can get to the castle - and then the door opens and guys come streaming out.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, Dude. They would lower a plank across like a pirate ship would do, let's say, when they pulled up to another pirate ship, and they would storm that way, from up top.

Josh Clark: Yeah, I think that appeared in like the last Lord of the Rings movie? No.

Chuck Bryant: Don't even say that.

Josh Clark: Yeah, they used that device in the last Lord of the Rings movie.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, cool.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: But Josh, that is not my favorite and when I was talking about rudimentary genius, the battering ram.

Josh Clark: Oh, yeah?

Chuck Bryant: You build big door, we take big pole, smash door.

Josh Clark: You know, it's funny - the fuzz still use that today.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, yeah. Those little metal things?

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: I want one of those.

Josh Clark: You can get one. You can also - you should probably dispose of the complimentary brass knuckles that come with your order, though.

Chuck Bryant: Right. So yes, the battering ram, obviously, was a big tool for the invading army, and some of them were covered in like shields to prevent the flaming arrow from hitting their head. Some were wide open, and then to defend it, once again, rudimentary genius, they would like put - they would slide like padding down in front of the door. It'd be like, oh, here they come with the battering ram, let's throw this mattress up against the door.

Josh Clark: Right, yeah. Which again, I think that's used in modern storming techniques by the fuzz and criminals.

Chuck Bryant: They would shoot flaming arrows into the door as well.

Josh Clark: Yeah, because it was wood.

Chuck Bryant: So it'd catch the door on fire and maybe could weaken it a little bit.

Josh Clark: Yeah, I think any time there was wood, flaming arrows came into play, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, always had to have the flaming arrow at the ready.

Josh Clark: Castles actually entered decline, while at least for military purposes, because of the invention of something we call the cannon.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. Once you had superior fire power, it doesn't matter how big your wall is.

Josh Clark: Exactly. Oh, we've left out one siege technique that I thought was awesome.

Chuck Bryant: The tunneling?

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: I knew you were gonna say that.

Josh Clark: They would - this sieging army would dig a tunnel all the way under the castle walls, right, and then they would use timber supports to hold the thing up while they were digging. When they finished digging, they would come back out, set the tunnel on fire, the timber supports would burn and the wall above would collapse because there was no longer any support.

Chuck Bryant: Pretty cool.

Josh Clark: Isn't that awesome?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. It didn't make sense to me at first, but then I got it.

Josh Clark: So this is what you had to do to make a wall collapse. Then the cannon comes along and all you have to do is shoot a couple cannonballs in the same place and then the wall collapses, right. So castles kind of fell out of use but, strangely enough, history repeated itself. It actually came full circle. Because remember we were talking about the predecessors of castles were earthen walls and wood, and that's what we went back to because earthen walls, we found, could sustain the impact of a cannonball.

Chuck Bryant: Wow.

Josh Clark: So like colonial forts -

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, yeah.

Josh Clark: They were made of earthen walls and wood.

Chuck Bryant: And they kind of replaced - well, not replaced, but as far as the military outposts, replaced the castle.

Josh Clark: Exactly, and they were also really speedy. Apparently, the colonial army could put up a fort in basically 24 hours.

Chuck Bryant: Wow.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: Instead of two to ten years.

Josh Clark: Yeah. Or 30 years, right.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, is that how long some of them took?

Josh Clark: That's how long one in Arkansas is taking.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, yeah. Let's talk about this guy. This guy - another Frenchman named Michel Guyot and Maryline Martin worked on a project in France called Project Guedelon - so out of my league with France - and they are basically building a castle in the Bordeaux region of France using the old techniques. It started in 1997, expected to take about 25 years, and I went to the website today and it looks pretty rad. It looks pretty cool so far.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: It's like more than one third finished.

Josh Clark: And it's open to the public.

Chuck Bryant: It's open - well, that's how they're paying for it, with tourist money, which is pretty cool, and they use all ancient tools - not ancient but - yeah, ancient - no, not ancient.

Josh Clark: Ancient. Not prehistoric, but you could make the case that it's ancient.

Chuck Bryant: Like wooden calibers. They have a rope with knots tied in it to measure things out.

Josh Clark: They're quarrying the limestone by hand, carving the bricks by hand. They're transporting it from the quarry to the site by horse, not just a horse, but a horse-drawn wagon.

Chuck Bryant: Right, yeah. And that's actually in the article, and then we got an email from Dana in Arkansas who said, who turned us on to this guy before I read the article. He's actually doing the same thing in Arkansas now.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: He said, I will build one in Bordeaux and Arkansas. So random.

Josh Clark: It is random, but it looks like it's gonna be awesome.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, and it's called the Ozark Medieval Fortress, and it opens actually in May of this year for the public, and I think for like 50 bucks, you can go see the thing in progress and, once again, it's like a 15, 20 year project.

Josh Clark: Right. Or you can go to a major regional mall and have a nice chicken dinner at Medieval Times.

Chuck Bryant: True, or you could go see the Hearst -

Josh Clark: They're about the same price.

Chuck Bryant: The Hearst Castle. They're like some rich dudes later on, in the 20th Century, that said I want my castle.

Josh Clark: What says that, I own the labor of 25 percent of America? A castle.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, Hearst Castle is awesome, though. You ever been there?

Josh Clark: I haven't. I seen pictures.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, really cool, and there's a castle in my neighborhood.

Josh Clark: What?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, there's a castle in Oakhurst. Have you ever seen it, Jeri? Yeah, it's like a five-minute walk from my house. I walk there with the dogs all the time.

Josh Clark: Sweet.

Chuck Bryant: It's like a small house and it's got the tower and it's built of rock.

Josh Clark: I'll have to go check it out.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. I could probably find a picture of it.

Josh Clark: Isn't there a castle that - a mausoleum that used to be in one of the mall parking lots, Evandale Mall parking lot?

Chuck Bryant: Oh, no, that was - it's a Walmart now, but it wasn't a castle. But it was a stone mausoleum.

Josh Clark: Oh, okay. Close enough, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. I just - this castle in Oakhurst is kinda cool, but every time I walk the dogs by there, some dude, like, pours hot oil on me so - it's kind of offputting.

Josh Clark: Nice one, Chuck. Nothing more needs to be said after that.

Chuck Bryant: I don't think so.

Josh Clark: So if you wanna learn more about castles and see some cool pictures of castles - actually, there's a bunch left in this article we didn't cover. You can type in castles in the handy search bar at howstuffworks.com, which means it's time for listener mail.

Chuck Bryant: Josh, I'm gonna call this email from Anna. She seems pretty cool. I think Anna is from Poland.

Josh Clark: Wait. Was there a colon? Email from Anna: She seems pretty cool?

Chuck Bryant: Yes.

Josh Clark: Or was that "or" she seems pretty cool?

Chuck Bryant: She does. I think she's Polish so that inherently makes her cool.

Josh Clark: Okay.

Chuck Bryant: Hi, Josh and Chuck. I have to thank you for the hiccup podcast, as it reminded me of how special I am. In my 27 years on this planet - so she's either 27 or she's been living on earth for 27 years - she's Martian and she's 40 - I have acquired exactly two super powers. One, a photographic old factory memory, which I've had since childhood, and two, the ability to cure my own hiccups just by thinking about them, which I perfected once I was of legal drinking age. The latter super power is made for a hilarious trick. Basically, if I get hiccups while imbibing of the sweet, sweet booze - that's how I knew we'd like her -

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: - all I have to do is pause for a second, concentrate on just the hiccups and they go away within just a few moments. Of course, strangers at parties don't know this so I can pretend that I am plagued by uncontrollable hiccups and the only way I'll get cured is if say, for instance, someone does a keg stand or a guy gives me a kiss. Pretty smart.

Josh Clark: She is wiley.

Chuck Bryant: Now I know that with great power comes great responsibility, so I have resisted the temptation to use this ability for evil, so far. My only hope is that I don't become so blinded with power that I turn to the dark side and use my hiccups to start a major war or influence an election. Anyway, how about a future podcast on burping? Anna says that, and she says, kudos to Chuck for having good taste in music. We seen The Flaming Lips myself this year - and her email signature - she's written in before - has a Charles Bukowski quote. That's the other way I know she's cool.

Josh Clark: What is it?

Chuck Bryant: The best part of a writer is on paper. The other part is usually nonsense.

Josh Clark: Nice.

Chuck Bryant: And it's probably followed by a hiccup and a burp.

Josh Clark: Well, thanks for that, Anna. We appreciate the email. It's pretty cool. If you have a special power -

Chuck Bryant: If you have a great Bukowski quote -

Josh Clark: - or if you can tell us your age in Martian years, we wanna hear it. Put it in an email. Spank it on the bottom and send it to: stuffpodcast@howstuffworks.com.

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