Saturday, April 10, 2010

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Monday, April 5, 2010

Medieval Dungeon Darkness

Say the word 'dungeon' and it conjurs up an instant notion of darkness and fear. Well it should too! Dungeons were an integral part of many medieval castles, particularly those castles built in areas of political and social unrest.

Take Carlisle Castle for example. Located on close to the border of England and Scotland, it has been a target for attack at different times in its turbulent 900 year history - from William Wallace to Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobite rebellion. It is not surprising, therefore, that when you visit Carlisle Castle, the dungeons at the base of its great keep make a strong and memorable impact upon the mind of the visitor. They are cold, damp and dark; their atmosphere is unique and difficult to convey in words. Suffice it to say, as you stand there absorbing this 'environment', it is easy to imagine the terrible plight of anyone who was imprisoned there. It is no surprise to learn that the medieval dungeon was also known as an oubliette - from the French oublier (to forget) and meaning a place where people were left to be forgotten and eventually die.

Read more about medieval dungeons and view pictures of carlisle castle's dungeons which we took on one very memorable visit.

We also have more about castle keeps.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Taking The Biscuit - Medieval Style!

It's not often that you see an antiques expert say that they have never seen the like of something before .... but that is what happened recently on a BBC tv show called 'Flog It'.

A lady had inherited what looked like a knight's metal helmet with an eagle crest on top. The visor opened and inside there was a container ... for storing biscuits!

It was of late 18th century origin but described by the show's expert as 'medieval' style. He also said that in 30 years of looking at antiques of all kinds, he had never seen anything like this before. Needless to say it was sold at auction for just under £200 ... not the cheapest of biscuit barrels but certainly one that would capture anyone's eye when coming to tea!

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