The First Castles Paper



Hi All

Recently, a conversation occurred in #lounge, about real world locations that would be cool to model in Mason. It started with Lighthouses & quickly moved to Castles!

Here is my list of places with net & personal notes.

A suitable subtitle for this effort is 'Castles I have known', I visited all these sites during a visit to the United Kingdom in '99.

Durham & Lincoln are 'matched pairs', both have closely sited castle/cathedral pairs. Indeed Durham Castle was initially built to protect the Cathedral!

I also include some stuff from the net, for the Clifford family, who have links to two castles (Skipton & York) from my list.

I posted these notes the Worlds Mailing List. Lee suggested I cross post it to the Rules Mailing List too. I've added notes on the Tower of London & the Prince-Bishop of Durham to this version.

The Prince-Bishop is central to the histories of Durham Cathedral & Castle. A great example of a special Title, made for a special situation, a real once off!

I'd like to thank Ian 'Elron' Brien for doing the final proof readings.

Its also been suggested that I submit this effort to mithro, for inclusion in the Chopping Block.

So here is the newest version.

Hope this is helpful!




The Castles

Coastal Castles

Scarborough Castle

The Castle and headland dominates the town and harbour some 300 ft below. The roughly triangular piece of ground forming the headland of Castle Hill has been occupied for over 2500 years, but the first stone fortress on the site wasn't built until the early 12th century by William le Gros. Remains of his early building include a chapel, much altered in the 14th century, and the curtain walls, which were, strengthened by Henry II in the second half of the 12th century.

The castle suffered serious damage only twice throughout its long past. During the Civil War it was subjected to prolonged cannon fire, causing severe destruction. In 1914 the town and castle were attacked by German battle cruisers, resulting in demolition of much of the remaining structure.

I think Krondor is modeled on Scarborough Castle & Town. When I first saw a map of Scarborough, 'that's Krondor in a mirror', was my first thought.

Conwy (Conway) Castle

Conwy along with Harlech is probably the most impressive of all the Welsh castles. Both were designed by Edward I's master castle builder James of St. George (James got around, he also worked on Scarborough Castle), and while Harlech has a more storied past, Conwy's eight massive towers and high curtain wall are more impressive than those at Harlech.

Unlike Harlech however, Conwy Castle and town are surrounded by a well-preserved wall lending an additional sense of strength to the site.

Conwy was renovated and refortified during 1642-43 by John Williams, archbishop of York, and was held for the king throughout the (first) Civil War.

The Castle and intact town walls would make a great town layout as is!

Eilean Donan Castle

Yes, the 'Highlander' castle!

The beginnings of Eilean Donan reach back into the early mists of time. Evidence of a Pictish fort was found in vitrified rock uncovered during excavations - some of which has been kept for visitors to see. At the beginning of the seventh century St. Donan (d. 618) lived on the island as a religious hermit; the name "Eilean Donan" means "Island of Donan". This was the period when Christianity was first introduced to the Western Isles.

The first fortified Stronghold was established in the reign of King Alexander II (1214-1250). In 1263 King Alexander III gave the castle to Colin Fitzgerald (sometimes referred to as Colin MacCoinneach), son of the Earl of Desmond and Kildare (later to become Mackenzies) as a reward for services in the Battle of Largs. This famous battle culminated in the defeat of the Norwegian king, Haco. Following his death shortly after, his successor, Magnus, ceded all the Western Isles to Scotland.

Traditionally, it is believed that in the early part of the fourteenth century Robert the Bruce, out of favour with many of the clan chiefs as well as being hunted by the English, was given refuge in Eilean Donan Castle by John Mackenzie, Second of Kintail

The MacRaes, who formed the bodyguard of the Chief of Kintail first became constables of the castle in 1509. There are many stories of military feats performed by members of the clan MacRae that gained them the nickname: "Mackenzies' shirt of mail". During the abortive Jacobite rising of 1719 Spanish troops hired by the Mackenzies were billeted at Eilean Donan and the castle was afterwards put to the torch.

At one time the Castle was held by two men, until relief arrived.

Note, the bridge was built circa 1932.

A great young frontier Castle!

Bluff Castles

Edinburgh Castle

The precipitous rock, rising out of surrounding forest, is known to have been a tribal refuge and settlement. There is archaeological evidence of human habitation on the crag in the Bronze Age, about 1,000 BC. This evidence makes Edinburgh one of the longest continuously inhabited places in northern Europe.

Where did Edinburgh get its name? The answer is obscured by the mists of time. The name could be a corruption of Edwin's Burgh, commemorating a ninth-century king of Northumbria, whose realm extended to the Firth of Forth. Other authorities, however, suggest that the original form of the city's name was 'din Eidyn', this is Brythonic, a language akin to Welsh, spoken in the south-east of Scotland at the time.

Note, the Honours of Scotland - the crown, sceptre and sword of state - are housed in Crown Room. The Stone of Destiny is also housed here! This is the coronation stone of Scotland. It is used for coronations at Westminster Abbey, the coronation of the united Crowns of the United Kingdom

Edinburgh Castle is also the home of the One O'clock Gun. This is fired every day except Sunday at precisely 1.00pm to provide everyone with an accurate check for their clocks and watches.

A great stronghold & 'Heart of the Capital & Country' castle!

Skipton Castle

The first fortifications where built soon after 1090. It was replaced with a more formidable stone castle, which stood on top of a rocky bluff with rising ground to the front and a sheer precipice falling to the Eller Beck behind. 'Beck' is a Northern term for 'creek' or 'stream'. The history of the castle is inseparable from that of the Clifford family who were granted the property by Edward II in 1310. At that time Robert Clifford was appointed first Lord Clifford of Skipton and Guardian of Craven, the wide tract of countryside to the north and west of Skipton.

This castle is of special note because it withstood a 3 year siege during the Civil War. After a war, a surrender was negotiated in 1645 and Oliver Cromwell ordered the removal of the Castle roofs. Skipton remained the Clifford's principal seat until 1676.

River Castles

The Tower of London

Castle building was an essential part of the Norman Conquest. Following Duke William of Normandy´s invasion of England in 1066, he and his supporters began building hundreds of castles, first to conquer, then subdue and finally to colonise the whole of England. These fortifications included the White Tower, the future Tower of London, one of the most fearsome castles of all.

Between 1190 and 1285 the White Tower was encircled by two towered curtain walls and a great moat. This was followed in the 14th century by the construction of the Wharf. During this period the Tower provided the monarchy with a place of refuge. In 1381, for example, the Peasants´ Revolt forced the 14-year-old King Richard II to shelter in the Tower with his family and household while over 10,000 rebels plundered and burnt the capital for two days.

Following the Reformation (when Henry VIII broke with the Church in Rome), the Tower took on an expanded role as the home for a large number of religious and political prisoners. These included such illustrious figures as Sir Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell, two of Henry VIII´s wives: Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, and his daughter, Princess Elizabeth (the future Queen Elizabeth I).

The Tower of London was seized from the monarchy during the Civil War (1642-9) and remained in the hands of the parliamentarians until the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. The reign of Charles II saw changes in the functions of the Tower. Its role as a state prison declined and the Office of Ordnance (which provided military supplies and equipment) took over responsibility for most of the castle.

Between 1800 and 1900 the Tower of London took on the appearance which to a large extent it retains today. During the 19th century the Tower attracted the attention of a series of architects and antiquarians who set out to restore it to its medieval appearance. This programme of work, involved the demolition of a series of 17th and 18th century Ordnance buildings and barracks and a number of private taverns and inns within the castle walls.

The First World War (1914-18) left the Tower largely untouched; the only bomb to fall on the fortress landed in the Moat. However, the war brought the Tower of London back into use as a prison for the first time since the early 19th century and between 1914-16, eleven spies were held and subsequently executed in the Tower. The last execution in the Tower took place in 1941 during the Second World War (1939-45). Bomb damage to the Tower during the Second World War was much greater: a number of buildings were severely damaged or destroyed including the mid-19th century North Bastion, which received a direct hit on 5 October 1940, and the Hospital Block which was partly destroyed during an air raid in the same year. Incendiaries also destroyed the Main Guard, a late 19th-century building to the south-west of the White Tower.

During the Second World War the Tower was closed to the public. The Moat, drained since 1843, was used as allotments for vegetable growing. The Crown Jewels were also removed from the Tower and taken to a place of safety, the location of which has never been disclosed.

I feel an interesting but often overlooked part of the Crown Jewels are the Swords of Justice. A great Legend behind them! King Henry VIII's Foot Armour in the Royal Armouries is cool too.

Note: a small section of the Roman City wall survives in a park just north of the Tower!

The ultimate castle keep of the Kingdom & the Empire! This is the castle you start building a Capital & a Country from!

Durham Cathedral & Castle

The Site

In 995 A.D after years of wandering the north, the carriers of St Cuthberts coffin came to a halt at a hill called Warden Law, the site of an Iron Age fort near Hetton to the east of Durham. Here the vehicle on which the coffin was transported came to stand still and despite the efforts of the whole congregation of followers who tried to push, the coffin would not move. Aldhun Bishop of Chester-le-Street, the leader of the congregation, committed the monks to three days of fasting and prayer in order to learn the reason why the coffin would not move. After a period of intense meditation their prayers were finally answered when St Cuthbert appeared in a vision to a monk called Eadmer. St Cuthbert instructed Eadmer that the coffin should be taken to a place called 'Dum Holm'. The monks had not heard of Dun Holm, but may have been aware that its name meant 'hill island'. Dun was an Anglo-Saxon word meaning 'hill', Holm meaning island is a word of Scandinavian origin. Dun Holm was later called 'Duresme' by the Normans and was known in Latin as 'Dunelm'. Over the years the name has been simplified to the modern form - Durham.

Durham Cathedral

Durham's Cathedral Church of Christ and Blessed Mary the Virgin is the last resting place of: St Cuthbert - the greatest of the early English saints; St Bede - the finest scholar of his age; and the head of St Oswald - the warrior king and martyr. In addition, it was for centuries both home for a community of Benedictine monks and seat of the mighty Prince Bishops of Durham.

Durham Castle

Close by the Cathedral is Durham Castle. King William the Conqueror ordered its construction in 1072, shortly after the Norman Conquest. Even today, the Castle still visually betrays its origins - a dramatic example of a typical Norman motte and bailey fortification. The first purpose of the Castle was, undoubtedly, to help pacify the rebellious Saxon population of the North of England. During the early medieval period, however, it developed into a strategic bulwark in the defence of the border with Scotland.

As the threat from the Scots receded, the Castle evolved into an impressive yet comfortable palace for Durham's all-powerful Prince Bishops. Then, in 1837, it was handed over for the use of the newly founded University of Durham. At first, the Castle contained the entire University. Soon, though, the rapidly-expanding University needed more space. So finally, Durham Castle became University College, Durham.

Richmond Castle (North Yorkshire)

Before the arrival of the Normans there had been no fortification on the site of Richmond Castle. The previous Anglo-Saxon owner of the land, Edwin, Earl of Mercia, using Gilling as his base.

Richmond grew up under the protection of the castle, but the civilian inhabitants lived outside the present market place, which was then the outer bailey of the castle. When, in the early 14th century Scottish raids posed a serious threat, Richmond gained permission to build a defensive wall around the bailey into which the civilians moved.

Only two stone built castles in England are equal in age to Richmond Castle. They are at Colchester and Durham.

The best preserved part of the castle is the Keep, which towers over 100 feet above the town; the walls are actually eleven feet thick. The Keep was a 12th century addition to the castle and was built over the original gate-house.

Downs Castles

Lincoln Castle & Cathedral

The Site

100BC Iron age settlement around Brayford Pool. Known as "Lindon" the
      'place by the pool'    
AD54-60  Invading Roman army establishes a military garrison and
      latinises name to "Lindum"    
AD90  Roman City receives 'Colonia' status ("Lindum Colonia" being the
      derivation of the modern name "Lincoln")    
circa 300  Lincoln becomes a major centre. Capitol of the Roman province
      covering most of eastern England    
circa 500  The Romans have gone, Lincoln is part of the Anglo Saxon
      kingdom of "Lindsey"    
circa 870  Invading Vikings have established Lincoln as one of the 5
      principle 'burghs' of the Danelaw    
1068  Two years after the Battle of Hastings William the Conqueror's
      army establishes a fortress: the Castle    
1072  Construction starts on the Norman Cathedral
1121  Fossdyke cleared to improve trade    
1141  Cathedral damaged by fire    
1141  Stephen and Matilda fight the Battle of Lincoln    
1157  Henry II grants a charter and has a residence in the city    
1185  City badly damaged by earthquake    
1326  Award of wool staple brings temporary prosperity    
Mid 1300's  City population ravaged by Black Death    
1369  City in decline as wool staple moves to Boston    
1644-48  Further destruction during Civil War

Lincoln Cathedral

A truly inspiring and majestic building, commenced in 1072, but largely rebuilt in the 12th and 13th Centuries in English Gothic style.

The vast nave with its limestone and marble columns, vaulted roof, and colourful stained glass windows is an exhilarating sight. One set of windows show the shire's link to the explorers George Bass and Matthew Flinders, their voyagers (HMS Investigator, HMS Tasman, Norfolk and the Tom Thumb) and the naming of Port Lincoln in South Australia. Question, can we do glass & stained glass?

Lincoln Castle

Sharing the Cathedral's hilltop setting is Lincoln Castle. Built on the site of the former Roman fortress, this defensive stronghold has long been the centre of the City's judicial and penal systems.

The Castle at Lincoln was one of the first great castles to be built by William The Conqueror. He started it in 1068, using the hilltop site that the Romans occupied with their first fortress and early settlement.

The crown court still sits here, upholding the principals of justice established by Magna Carta. Lincoln's original copy of this famous document, sealed by King John at Runnymede in 1215, is the centrepiece of a special exhibition in the castle.

Note: One of Four surviving original copies (out of about 40, one for each of the counties and a few for the King, Royal Archives etc in London).

Note: The castle has two Keep/Mottes in it walls, this is rare. The only other in the UK is Lewes.

This is an administrative castle, great for a provincial capital.

Castle specials

Clifford's Tower (York Castle)

Clifford's Tower is all the remains of York Castle. It's a Keep set on a motte. Of special note is the towers layout, it is a clover leaf floor plan. It's very rare, the only one in the UK, and only a one or two exist elsewhere. It was rebuilt in the 13th century but later gutted by fire during the Civil War. It sits at the junction of the River Ouse & River Foss.

The Castle is called Clifford's Tower because of Roger De Clifford who was hanged here following the Battle of Boroughbridge in 1322

I have not included it under River Castles because so little of the castle has survived

Characters & Titles

the Clifford Family

After Robert de Clifford was granted the Honour and Castle of Skipton by Edward II in March 1310, Skipton Castle became the principal seat of this great fighting family, whose vast estates made them the most powerful Lords of the North of England for over 350 years, active and influential both at local & national level.

Below are some details of a few of the more important Cliffords.

Robert Clifford, 1st Lord of Skipton

One of Edward I's most distinguished soldiers and administrators. He held the office of Marshall of England. He was killed at the battle of Bannockburn in 1314

Roger Clifford, 2nd Lord of Skipton

He was involved in a rebellion against King Edward I's favourites, Huge Lord de Despencer, and ultimately against the King him self. The rebel forces were brought to battle by the King's forces in Boroughbridge in March 1322 at which Roger Clifford received severe wounds. Forced to surrender, he was condemned to death and held captive in York. Reprieved, probably because of his wounds, he survived until 1326. His estates were forfeited, including Skipton castle. They were restored to Robert, 3rd Lord of Skipton in 1327.

John Clifford, 7th Lord of Skipton

A fine soldier who fought for Henry V in France. He took part in the siege of Harfleur and fought at Agincourt in 1415. He also took part in the siege of Cherbourg and received its surrender. He was rewarded for his service to the king, by being made a Knight of the Order of the Garter. He was killed at the siege of Meaux in 1422.

Thomas Clifford, 8th Lord of Skipton

He was killed at the battle of St Albans, the first battle of the War of the Roses in 1455. Thomas Clifford and the Lancastrians were beaten by forces led by the Duke of York and Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick.

John Clifford 'The Butcher', 9th Lord of Skipton.

He was determined to avenge his fathers death. The Duke of York was killed in the battle of Wakefield in 1460.

Knighted on the battlefield as a reward for the death of so many men. He is reputed to have cut of York's head and put it on the gates of York. He is also said to off killed York's teenage son, Edmund, Earl of Rutland, in cold blood after he had surrendered thus earning the nickname "Butcher". He was killed at the battle of Towton in 1461.

Henry Clifford, 10th Lord of Skipton

For fear of Yorkist reprisals, The young Henry was entrusted to the care of a sheperd's family near Londesborough, Hence his title "The Shepherd lord". After the battle of Bosworth , Henry is restored "in blood and honours". He was one of the chief commanders in the battle of Flodden against the Scots in 1513.

Henry Clifford, 11th Lord of Skipton and 1st Earl of Cumberland

A close Friend of Henry VIII, Known for his extravagant lifestyle. He was active in border warfare against the Scots and defended Skipton Castle in the name of king during the pilgrimage of grace in 1536. He was created Knight of the Order of the Garter. His son Henry married Lady Eleanor Brandon, the King's niece.

George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland

The most flamboyant member of the Clifford family, an extravagant courtier and naval adventurer. He was an accomplished jouster - the Queen's Champion. He was a distinguished Admiral who played an important part in the destruction of the Spanish Armada and was first Governor of the East India Company.

Lady Margaret Russell, Countess of Cumberland

Married in 1577 to George Clifford 3rd Earl of Cumberland in the presence of Queen Elizabeth I, she was distinguished by resolute efforts to obtain for her daughter her rightful inheritance. Deeply interested in alchemy she discovered many excellent medicines.

Lady Anne Clifford

One of the most famous members of the Clifford family, Lady Anne is celebrated for her diary and her tireless restoration of her properties, badly damaged in the Civil War.

the Prince-Bishop of Durham

The first Norman kings realised that because it was so remote from their power based in the South, the North-East of England was particularly vulnerable both to rebellion by the local Anglo-Saxon population and to invasion by the armies of Scotland. Shortly after the Norman Conquest therefore William the Conqueror appointed Bishop Walcher of Durham (1071-1081) Earl-Bishop of Northumbria. This appointment concentrated both secular and spiritual power over the whole of the North-East of England in the hands of one person.

Following Walcher's murder by an angry mob in Gateshead in 1081 the king decided to continue with this policy but in a more limited way. So he elevated Bishop Carileph (1081-1096) - and subsequent bishops - to the rank of Prince-Bishop giving them vice-regal power over an area that became known as the Palatinate of Durham. The Palatinate covered much of the modern counties of Cleveland, Durham and Tyne & Wear together with parts of the county of Northumberland.

Over a century later - boasting of the power of his master - the steward of Bishop Bek (1284-1310) claimed: "There are two kings in England namely the Lord King of England wearing a crown in sign of his regality and the Lord Bishop of Durham wearing a mitre in place of a crown in sign of his regality in the diocese of Durham."

This was no idle boast however. The Prince-Bishops had the similar royal powers within the Palatinate to those that the King exercised in other parts of his Kingdom. Not only did they have their own Parliament - Durham sent no representatives to London - but also they could raise their own armies, levy their own taxes, mint their own coins and set up their own court system. At the high point of their powers the Prince-Bishops could even enter into negotiations directly with the Kings of Scotland, create their own barons and regulate commerce by granting charters for markets and fairs.

Bishop Van Mildert (1826-36) - the last of the Prince-Bishops - was involved in founding the University of Durham in 1832. Durham Castle which had always been the principal stronghold and palace of the Prince-Bishops was handed over in 1837 to provide a home for this fledgling institution. Since then the main seat of the Bishops of Durham has been at Auckland Castle just a few miles south of Durham.

It was only with the death of Bishop Van Mildert in 1836 that the secular powers of the Bishops of Durham were finally surrendered to the King. Interestingly though the Palatinate court system survived for almost another century and a half. Not until 1971 was the system finally merged into the English court structure - exactly 900 years after William the Conqueror appointed Bishop Walcher Earl-Bishop of Northumbria!

I see the Prince-Bishops as being like the 'Prince of the West' with spiritual power too, but just over a smaller area. You need to do this sort of thing when the king is in far off London/Rillanon and you're in change of Durham/Krondor and the wild north/west!