Friday, 22 June 2012

Durham - motte and bailey castle keep

I’ve found a wonderful book by John Goodall, Architectural Editor of Country Life. It’s called The English Castle, and it’s horrendously huge and heavy with loads of pictures and 547 pages. A great weight to carry home from the library but it contains wonderful photographs and I expect to find many fascinating snippets to pass on.

In his introduction, Goodall says we have the French to thank for our ancient castles. Evidently the overthrow of the French nobility after the revolution in 1789, and the subsequent necessity for the government to care for the medieval buildings that were left, meant that the ancient buildings were studied, analysed and valued. At the same time, Walter Scott had something to do with it too; the success of his novels Ivanhoe and Kenilworth, which celebrated castles and all things chivalric, fed popular interest and as early as 1882 we had the Ancient Monuments Protection Act.

It’s often hard to distinguish a castle from a hall. I’ve noticed that in my own locality when I was wandering around Aydon Castle/Hall and wondering which term to use. The definition is this: a castle is a private and fortified residence of a lord. The Normans introduced castles at the Conquest to enforce the Norman, feudal political settlement over an unwilling Anglo-Saxon population. When government failed, people retreated to their castles and waged war on each other. Governments made attempts to obstruct the building of private castles, but it was only when new siege technology made earth and wood defences obsolete in the late 12th century, that the sheer cost of building in stone limited their construction.


Scunnered B said...

Thank you, Jen. I am enjoying learning about English castles and your blog has been of great interest to me today. Thanks again.

Jen Black said...

Glad you're enjoying it. I'm pretty busy at the moment, so when I saw your post, I decided I'd re-run these castle posts during this week. It will be easier for you to find them!