Posted by: vikingsinspace | December 27, 2010

I.4.01.1.08. See Dover Castle

Date Accomplished: 5 June 2010

Dover Castle

Dover Castle ended up playing a large role in my Doctoral thesis, so I was excited to get the chance to actually go and visit the place.  I will start by saying this place has a little bit of everything: some Roman and Saxon remains, one of the largest and best examples of an Anglo-Norman keep, and of course wartime tunnels from both the Napoleonic wars and Second World War.  My girlfriend and I started our visit with a tour of the wartime tunnels (which we were not allowed to take pictures of).  There were plenty of interesting artifacts from the second world war, but sadly little to no explanation of what we were seeing – just an audio track playing overhead that follows the ordeal of a wounded soldier that we would listen to as our tour guide lead us around the tunnels.

The Great Keep of Dover

We then headed to the Keep, which was the main attraction for me.  This was the keep built by Henry II, primarily in the 1180s.  A portion of my thesis dealt with Henry’s military expenditures in Kent, so I had spent some time going through the Pipe Rolls (The Sheriffs’ receipts at the Exchequer) and followed the records of payments for its building.  For the time period, this was a huge project, and it is reflected in the Rolls.  To actually see the building, some of the expenses become understandable.  It is much larger than many of the other Norman keeps I have seen, and had a few features that appeared unique (such as the processional entrance and the drawbridge that was a part of this).  The interior was decorated as if this were a royal manor, and while it no doubt served this function at times, I doubt that this was its normal state.

Avranches Tower

After exploring the Keep, we took to walking around the grounds.  More of my thesis was coming alive here, as in addition to doing research concerning the building of Dover castle, I was also looking into the complex system of castle guard service at the castle.  Dover’s Castle Guard was fulfilled by nine baronies in the twelfth through mid-thirteenth centuries, and each of these baronies were represented by a tower or gate named after them.  So as we were walking along the walls of the castle, we inevitably came by plaques saying that this was the gate of Adam fitz William or Crevequer’s Tower, and at each name I would spout off some fact about their owed service (much to the annoyance of my girlfriend).  Of all these gates and towers, I found the Tower of Avranches to be the most interesting, as it had strange windows which were divided into three arrow slits in a way I hadn’t seen before.

Dover Castle Again

Sadly we didn’t have time to see more of the castle, such as the Roman Lighthouse or the Saxon church, but we had to catch a train and were limited on our time.  This doesn’t upset me however, as I’m sure I will come back some day, and it will be just as enjoyable then since there will be new things to look at and enjoy.

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