The word dungeon was originally derived from the French word donjon. This was the central keep or tower of the castle which served as living quarters for the castles inhabitants, but was occasionally used for holding prisoners.

Only later did the term dungeon come to mean an underground, windowless room used to hold enemies or hostages captive. Conditions in dungeons were often dark, cold, damp and sometimes prone to flooding.

Pictured right is the entrance to the dungeon at Hastings castle.

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