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The southern entrance to York, Micklegate Bar
The southern entrance to York, Micklegate Bar
Gatehouse reconstruction from ancient Babylon
Gatehouse reconstruction from ancient Babylon

A gatehouse is a type of fortified gateway, an entry control point building, enclosing or accompanying a gateway for a town, religious house, castle, manor house, or other fortification building of importance. Gatehouses are typically the most heavily armed section of a fortification, to compensate for being structurally the weakest and the most probable attack point by an enemy. There are numerous surviving examples in France, Austria, Germany, England and Japan.

History

Gatehouses made their first appearance in the early antiquity when it became necessary to protect the main entrance to a castle or town. Over time, they evolved into very complicated structures with many lines of defence. Strongly fortified gatehouses would normally include a drawbridge, one or more portcullises, machicolations, arrow loops and possibly even murder-holes where stones would be dropped on attackers. In some castles, the gatehouse was so strongly fortified it took on the function of a keep, sometimes referred to as a "gate keep". In the late Middle Ages, some of these arrow loops might have been converted into gun loops (or gun ports).

Urban defences would sometimes incorporate gatehouses such as Monnow Bridge in Monmouth. York has four important gatehouses, known as "Bars", in its city walls including the Micklegate Bar.

The French term for gatehouse is logis-porche. This could be a large, complex structure that served both as a gateway and lodging or it could have been composed of a gateway through an enclosing wall. A very large gatehouse might be called a châtelet (small castle).

At the end of the Middle Ages, many gatehouses in England and France were converted into beautiful, grand entrance structures to manor houses or estates. Many of them became a separate feature free-standing or attached to the manor or mansion only by an enclosing wall. By this time the gatehouse had lost its defensive purpose and had become more of a monumental structure designed to harmonise with the manor or mansion.

In the Dravidian architecture of South India, very tall gopuram gatehouses, usually four, dominate large Hindu temple complexes.

England

  • The entrance to the University of Manchester, built in 1902
    The entrance to the University of Manchester, built in 1902
  • Barbican gate of Glenarm Castle, Co. Antrim
    Barbican gate of Glenarm Castle, Co. Antrim
  • German gatehouse in Lich, Hesse built in 1782
    German gatehouse in Lich, Hesse built in 1782
  • The gatehouse of Thornton Abbey from the outside
    The gatehouse of Thornton Abbey from the outside
  • Kankaimon, the outermost defensive gate of Shuri Castle
    Kankaimon, the outermost defensive gate of Shuri Castle
  • Puerta del Sol Moorish gateway from Toledo, Spain
    Puerta del Sol Moorish gateway from Toledo, Spain
  • Ganesh Pol is one of the seven gates of Amber Fort built between 1611 and 1667, India
    Ganesh Pol is one of the seven gates of Amber Fort built between 1611 and 1667, India

France

United States

See also

References