Saturday, February 13, 2010

Visiting Medieval Britain

Britain has some of the best medieval castles in the world. Some are surprisingly still intact and lived in whilst others just have ruins left - a shadow of their former, glorious selves. If you live in or come to visit Britain and have an interest in medieval history, then it's your lucky day because there are hundreds of medieval sites open to the public.

Medieval castles in Wales include Coch Castle, Denbigh Castle and Caernarfon Castle.

Medieval castles in Scotland include Castle of Mey, Hermitage Castle, Caerlaverock Castle.

Medieval castles in England include Alnwick Castle, Naworth Castle,

Many British medieval castles are on or near to the coast. Take, for example, Dunstanburgh Castle and Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland. Both are on the coast yet one is in ruins whilst the other intact and still lived in. Both of them command some of the most spectacular locations you could ever imagine for a medieval castle. Tourist accommodation in this area is plentiful and if you want a vacation rental (self catering) cottage that's extra special, there are some luxury Northumbrian cottages on hand to make your stay even more enjoyable.

Moving further north you are soon in Scotland, a country famous for its history including medieval history with the likes of William Wallace. Now there's a medieval folk hero worth talking and writing about - but that's for another time and another post!

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Stone Carvings & Medieval Graffiti

If you visit a medieval castle, medieval church or medieval priory, you will often come across stone carvings both inside and outside the buildings.

The carvings can vary in size and style and, indeed, the purpose for which they were made. Some medieval stone carvings are of strange-looking faces such as can be seen inside Caerlaverock Castle in South West Scotland. We took this photograph (left) on the ground floor of the castle in what had once been a room with a fireplace. The carvings were quite small and in vertical blocks so obviously served as some kind of ornamentation.

Others carvings you might find elsewere are of creatures or flowers though some are the marks left behind by men who were captive there - either imprisoned or who lived and worked there.

Such is the case with a most unusual set of medieval carvings in a stone wall within the keep of Carlisle Castle, one of the finest medieval fortresses in all England. We were lucky enough to see these first hand and here is one of our photographs (right). Now protected behind a glass door, it is not known exactly who made the carvings though some believe they were made by prisoners. What is known is that they were made in the late 1400's. Some of the carvings are detailed and ornate having been done with great care and skill whilst others are extremely basic with little skill having been employed. Essentially the whole wall is a wonderful piece of medieval graffiti.

The Lanercost Cross is an entirely different piece of medieval stone carving. Located within Lanercost Priory (its stump remains in the grounds outside), is the shaft of a stone cross with an inscription in Latin dating back to 1214. To learn more just visit our Lanercost Priory page where you can also enjoy an exclusive piece of video featuring music by Stephen Caudel.

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