- walls of regular or irregular gray stone blocks, anywhere from shoebox size to two or three times that
- wooden doors fitted with iron hinges and reinforcing bars
- floors of gray flagstone
- torches in wall sconces
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Certainly, high medieval castle architecture used those big stone blocks for aboveground walls, as we see from Alnwick Castle in Northumberland and similar fortresses. When delving into earth, it might also be a good idea to reinforce the walls with stone, right? Except if the idea is just to reinforce and insulate and make it look neat and nice, then your typical medieval cellar made do with much smaller, brick-like stonework, as seen in this undercroft in Norwich.
Or the stonework might be plastered over, or it might be made of bricks, or packed earth might suffice.
Another problem for the "dungeon look" comes when, digging down, you hit bedrock. Granted, in agricultural plains this might not happen for a hundred feet or so, but castles, wizards' towers, and other such dungeon-toppers tend to be built on hills with rock not far below. In that case the dungeon tunnels are best dug directly into the rock, faced and decorated by planing the rock itself. There's no need to emulate the look of Garden State Brickface by carving fake mortar crannies into the stone.
Could it just be that the big-block idea comes from artists who wanted to draw fewer lines in their medieval settings? Maybe, but there's another reason an architect might want to divert those hard-to-move, yard-long stone blocks from building the important castle walls to facing the underground cellars.
If you are keeping prisoners down there - you know, in your dungeon - then it's important to make the blocks big, so it's hard to get past them to the diggable clay beyond.
So the answer to "Why does a dungeon look like a dungeon?" may very well be: "Because it's a dungeon..."