Tour of Caernarfon Castle



I have been noting some of the short card tour guides that were produced for sites in State Guardianship, e.g. Caerphilly Castle, Criccieth Castle. One was produced by the MPBW for Caernarvon (Caernarfon) Castle in 1969 (price, 6d). This has a tour of the castle with 13 key points.

Caernarvon Castle


The same plan appears inside the card back cover of Alan Phillips 1961 souvenir guide of the castle. It also contained some of the line drawings of the features that reappear in the 1969 guide. However there are some differences in the text, and the card seems to use the revised text of the 1963 souvenir guide.

Caernarvon Castle


The text appears in the 1970 reprint but without the line drawings.



The back of the card guide has a short history of the castle.

Guidebooks to Chesters Roman fort


1960 (6th impress. 1970)

The Roman fort at Chesters lies immediately to the west of where Hadrian’s Wall crossed the river North Tyne. The site, along with the Clayton Memorial Museum, was placed in State Guardianship in 1954. The official Ministry guidebook was prepared by Eric Birley, who also wrote the guides for Corbridge and Housesteads.

The sections include: the site; historical outline; the fort bath-house, bridge; civilian settlement; and museum. A foldout map inside the back cover shows the location of the fort and its environs, from Milecastle 26 to Milecastle 28. Plans of the fort and bath-house are included within the guide.


1990 (1999)

The English Heritage guide by J.S. Johnson was published in 1990. It is fully illustrated in black and white. It starts with a tour of the fort and bath-house; the museum; Chesters bridge; the Romans in the north; history of Chesters fort (including a section on the Chesters Estate and John Clayton). It includes reconstructions by Alan Sorrell.



The most recent English Heritage guide is by Nick Hodgson (who also wrote the EH guide to Corbridge). This is fully illustrated in colour. It follows the patter of tour then history. A foldout plan inside the back cover shows the layout of the adjacent civilian settlement.

One of the features includes the so-called Crosby Garrett Roman cavalry helmet.

UNESCO World Heritage Site: Philippi


The forum, Philippi © David Gill

The Roman colony of Philippi in Macedonia, northern Greece, has been designated as one of the latest additions to UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites (“Philippi becomes UNESCO World Heritage site“, 15 July 2016). Excavations have revealed parts of the Roman city including a series of Byzantine churches.

The site is described as follows:
The remains of this walled city lie at the foot of an acropolis in north-eastern Greece, on the ancient route linking Europe and Asia, the Via Egnatia. Founded in 356 BC by the Macedonian King Philip II, the city developed as a “small Rome” with the establishment of the Roman Empire in the decades following the Battle of Philippi, in 42 BCE. The vibrant Hellenistic city of Philip II, of which the walls and their gates, the theatre and the funerary heroon (temple) are to be seen, was supplemented with Roman public buildings such as the Forum and a monumental terrace with temples to its north. Later the city became a centre of the Christian faith following the visit of the Apostle Paul in 49-50 CE. The remains of its basilicas constitute an exceptional testimony to the early establishment of Christianity.

The colony was the setting of the Apostle Paul’s mission to Macedonia as described in the Acts of the Apostles.

Arsinoe in the Peloponnese


Ptolemaic base of Arsinoe in the Peloponnese © David Gill

The Ptolemaic base of Arsinoe was probably established on the Methana peninsula in the 260s BC (for further details see here). The base was founded away from the classical polis of Methana. Significant remains of the fort walls are found on the Nissaki near the modern port of Loutra.

The base was probably abandoned soon after 145 BC.

Tourism in Contemporary Cities


Greenwich © David Gill

The International Tourism Studies Association (ITSA) Biennial Conference 2016 is taking place in Greenwich this week. One of the themes is ‘Heritage tourism in cities’, with an emphasis on UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

I will be presenting an analysis of visitor figures for UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Greece with a special emphasis on the period of austerity. One of my strands will be the city of Athens with the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Athenian Acropolis.

Sir Charles Peers and Pevensey Castle


1952 (rev. with additions 1963)

Sir Charles Peers prepared the guidebooks for two of the Saxon Shore forts that had been reused  as medieval castles: Portchester Castle in Hampshire and Pevensey Castle in Sussex.

The guide is divided into two main sections: history and description. There is a foldout plan inside the back cover. Peers describes the nature of the Saxon Shore forts and some of their reuse. He continues with the granting of the site to the half-brother of William the Conqueror.

Peers notes the use of the fort during the Second World War including the insertion of pill-boxes and a blockhouse to protect against tanks: ‘By the grace of God these twentieth-century defences were never put to the test’.

Guidebooks to Carisbrooke Castle


1933 (2nd ed. 1948; 10th impress. 1964)

The first official guidebook to Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight was by Sir Charles Peers. This was one of the earliest of Peers’ guidebooks, and was reissued as a second edition in 1948. It is divided into two main sections: description and history. There are two foldout plans at the back, one showing the castle, and the other the earthworks surrounding it. There are also a series of black and white illustrations.


1956 (7th impress. 1967)

An illustrated guide appeared in 1956, and was prepared by the Central Office of Information. The format consists of small black and white photographs with a short text adjacent to each. (The style is similar to that adopted for Holyroodhouse.) The second half has a longer text (‘A short history’), and there is a short section on the donkey wheel.


2010 (rev. 2013)

The present English Heritage (red) guide is by Christopher Young. This now starts with a tour, followed by a history. There is a foldout plan inside the back cover.

Peers identified ‘the stone-walled fort which underlies the Norman earthworks is probably of late Roman construction’. Elsewhere he notes, ‘The rounded angles and the type of masonry suggest a Roman origin for this walled enclosure … The plan of the gateway and the small turret are, however, quite different from anything in any of the Roman coast fortresses …’ The illustrated guide also asserts that ‘beneath the Norman earthworks … there are traces of a Roman fort, but there is no recorded history of the Castle in Roman times’. The English Heritage guide identifies these putative Roman features as the walls of a Saxon fort dating to c. 1000. It states, ‘there is no secure evidence of Roman occupation on the castle hilltop itself’.