Course sections

Protecting the interior of structures

Protecting the interior of structures

Security is needed within as well as without a walled community or structure. To protect precious objects, including vital documents; hidden places within walls or furniture or under floors were frequently created. These were inexpensive to construct, but might be discovered eventually by others. Traps sometimes ensnared users who attempted to open a door but failed to know the secret of the combination. Similarly, traps and snares were employed frequently for protection in grounds and within structures. The disadvantage with traps is that persons setting them sometimes are injured, and others are inadvertently hurt. Safes and strong boxes have served as protected containers since ancient Egypt (Eras, 1974; Buehr, 1953). Locks are among the oldest mechanisms invented. The Lock Museum of America in Terryville, Connecticut, contains an Egyptian pin lock, perhaps 4000 years old. Through the centuries the need to protect precious metals and stones and important documents created a market that advanced safe and vault construction skills. Lockable chests, often protected with ingenuous, elaborate mechanisms, were common at the court during early medieval times. The oldest piece of furniture owned by the Bank of England is a multi-point locking secured chest dated from about 1700, visible today in the bank’s museum.