Saturday, November 28, 2009

Medieval Castles in 2009

During the course of this year we have visited and photographed a number of medieval castles in the Border region that lies between England and Scotland. It is an area that has seen many battles for power over the centuries and is therefore littered with fortresses many of which date back to medieval times and some such as Carlisle Castle having origins even further back - to Roman times.

Carlisle Castle (Cumbria England)
With over 900 years of history. Architecturally fascinating and reputed to be haunted!

Naworth Castle (Cumbria England)
A small, privately owned medieval castle dating back to the early 14th century.

Dacre Castle (Cumbria England)
An even smaller castle, again privately owned which was up for rental at the time we visited.

Dunstanburgh Castle (Northumberland, England)
Castle ruins in one of the most outstanding locations you could ever dream of! Located high on a promintery overlooking the sea. Breathtaking views once you reach it and look down on the surrounding countryside. Legends abound about this castle and it is reputed to be haunted.

Threave Castle (Scotland)
Ruins of a 13th century castle built in a unique location - on an island in the middle of the river Dee.

Hermitage Castle (Scotland)
Another unique location for a medieval castle - this was far from romantic though. A much more desolate location. Castle reputed to be haunted.

Photographs of each of the above will be published in subsequent blog posts.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Medieval Heraldry

Let's face it, we humans love symbolism. All aspects of life seem to carry symbols - from football teams to political parties to hobby groups and more. Representing our beliefs and our culture is very important and it was in medieval times that symbols used for family identities came about. More precisely it was in England in the 12th century that medieval heraldry was born.

Heraldry in medieval families was important for a number of reasons and passing on a family coat of arms soon became the thing to do if a family held good social and political standing. Choosing the symbols used in heraldry was quite complex with the most popular being animals - real or mythical. Medieval unicorns are a good example.

Even today, heraldry plays a part in many people's lives. You might be fortunate to have inherited a family coat of arms but if not you can have one made up for you when you get married! Read our page on this great idea for a medieval style gift.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Carlisle Castle - A Medieval & Military Fortress

I recently went with my family to visit Carlisle Castle. What a surprise it was. Almost 900 years of history packed into one place - and what a history! Carlisle Castle has played a role in some of the most colourful and significant periods in British history.

These include:
  • being at the frontline of Anglo-Scottish border warfare for many years including 1315 when it repelled a particularly fierce attack by the Scots

  • acting as a prison for Mary Queen of Scots in 1568

  • being besieged for eight months by Parliament's Scots allies during the English Civil War with its Royalist garrison only surrendering after eating rats and dogs (1645)

  • being the last English fortress ever to suffer a siege - in 1746 during the Jacobite Rising. Bonnie Prince Charlie's garrison of men were unable to hold off the Duke of Cumberland's army only to become prisoners there themselves. Many of them died in the castle.

Taking a tour of the castle was both interesting and enjoyable. The architectural features were very notable as one would imagine of a truly medieval castle and there were some particularly fascinating things such as the stone carvings in the great Keep believed to have been made by prisoners in 1480. I am saving that topic for a more detailed blog with photos later on.

The exhibitions are really well presented with many artefacts on display. Walking around the castle walls offers fantastic views over the city of Carlisle and the wonderful black cannons were really impressive! (See photo) The military history of the castle is reflected in the wonderful Border Regiment & King's Own Royal Border Regimental Museum which is housed within the castle walls and to which you get free entry when you purchase a ticket to tour the castle.

There is so much to Carlisle Castle that a single blog post just can't do it justice!

You have to go there to believe it and if you can't get there then revisit this Blog and where we will be developing further content on what must surely be one of the best medieval fortresses in England, possibly second only to the Tower of London.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Haunted Hever Castle

Hever Castle has had associations with numerous famous people over the centuries including William Waldorf Astor but its most notable resident was surely Anne Boleyn - second wife of King Henry VIII and mother of Queen Elizabeth I of England.

Anne lived at Hever Castle as a child. Her life was to go on to reach an incredible 'high' as the most important woman in all England, only to end in terrible tragedy when she was beheaded at the Tower of London, still a young woman. It is said that her restless spirit still haunts Hever Castle and its grounds.

So it is from Tudor times that Hever Castle has its most notable historical associations but it is in fact a medieval castle by definition, having been built in the 13th century. That is why we have put Hever Castle into our haunted castles section on our main website, under the category of haunted english castles in fact. If you go to the section you will see lots of other english medieval castles listed , all with their own, individual haunted castle story to tell.

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