Did medieval spiral staircases swing to the left or right….?


Myths abound about the medieval period, and some of them seem logical enough…yet they turn out to be untrue. One such is that spiral/newel staircases were built to be advantageous to those who use their right hand.

So, as the majority of the human race is right-handed, this seemed a good, sensible idea. Yes? Well, on the whole but perhaps not for those who are left-handed. Encountering a foe on such a staircase, and requiring to use a sword was supposedly advantageous to the right-handed. That is, if you were further up the steps. Hard luck if you were the one further down. No advantage then, because it would be better to be left-handed. Yes? Oh, I don’t know, the only sword I’ve ever wielded was a wooden toy when I was about six!

If you look at the photographs above, you’ll see examples of these staircases winding in both directions….not at the same time, of course, but you know what I mean. The photographs are from this article which blows the myth apart. Medieval spiral staircases could go either way. Theory exploded.


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