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’.

Author: David Gill

David Gill is Honorary Professor in the Centre for Heritage at the University of Kent, and Honorary Research Fellow in the School of History and an Academic Associate in SISJAC at UEA; Professor of Archaeological Heritage.

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