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So the scenario for my story involves an abandon castle that is located in a taboo area so no one goes near it and so no one is maintaining it anymore. Assume the castle was almost 1000 years old before it was abandoned, but it was well maintained up to the point of being abandoned. There is no magic or anything special about the castle that would allow it to survive any longer than normal.

  • How long before the castle is no longer capable of serving as a castle (like walls have been compromised or the roof has caved in)?
  • How long before the castle is nothing more than a pile of rubble?
  • Would being near a forest and/or river expedite the process and if so by what order of magnitude are we talking?
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    $\begingroup$ Depends what you consider a castle. Something like an Iron Age Hillfort could be noticeable for millennia due to being based off of earthworks. One example is Maiden Castle, whose walls still exist today. $\endgroup$ – Kys Jul 13 '16 at 18:20
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I found this question interesting and started doing some research. However, it is hard to pin down an answer. It really comes down to how it was constructed. The earliest traditional castles were built from 1060 AD and later. Castles made from stone and mortar do not last long without regular maintenance. The mortar begins to crack, which allows water to seep in. Water is the bane of all buildings. During the winter, water will freeze causing more cracks, which in turn allows more water to seep in. These cracks allow plants to start growing in them. The roots of the plants further break up the mortar. In the pictures below, you can see plants how the mortar gets destroyed and plants take over.

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Being near a forest or river definitely would expedite the process, as the moisture and plants are close by to start breaking down the castle.

It would also appear being in an arid desert doesnt help that much either. The heat fluctuations also cause the mortar to crack. Wind carrying sand slowly eats away at the mortar as well.

enter image description here enter image description here

There are always exceptions to this, but it would appear that a few hundred years is the maximum a castle will survive without maintenance.

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    $\begingroup$ If erosion of mortar and gaps within stonework are the primary issues, then would a dry stone construction, like the iconic sort created by the Inca, endure for much longer? $\endgroup$ – inappropriateCode May 25 '17 at 8:54
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    $\begingroup$ Unless it's in a dry environment and gets buried in the sand. Burial protects it from temperature shifts and wind erosion and dry protects it from water erosion. Most all of the oldest ruins we know of were buried in dry sand for at least the majority of the time since they were abandoned. $\endgroup$ – Perkins Aug 18 '17 at 0:33
  • $\begingroup$ That particular castle photo looks more like it was cannon-blasted than erosion. Observe the extreme directional-ness to the damage. $\endgroup$ – Joshua Sep 1 at 16:12

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