drawbridge © 2000-2011 by Marvin Hull
Almost all drawbridges were made of wood. The earliest were removable. When the need came, the guards would withdraw the platform from its position, thus offering protection to the castle. In later development, the drawbridge had ropes and pulleys attached where the guards would haul up one end of the platform by pulling on the ropes.

Sometimes chains were used instead of rope because it afforded greater strength, and the chain would last longer. One advantage of using a pulley system was that whoever pulled up the drawbridge could do so within the safety of the castle walls.

side elevation of drawbridge

There were many variations of the pulley system. Counter weights were developed to make the difficult task of hauling up the heavy drawbridge easier. Some castles had a protruding room so that when the drawbridge was in a raised position the underside of it became an extra door.

In the 14th Century another development took place when lifting gaffs, or arms, were used along with the pulley system. This further increased the ease of lifting the drawbridge.

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