Warning: castles are dangerous

Danger. Do Not Climb on the Walls © David Gill

I spotted this at an English Heritage castle (Hadleigh) earlier in the year. There were several of these warning signs around the site.

Woodhenge Heritage Signs Stolen

Ministry of Works plaques stolen from Woodhenge. Source: Historic England

HF has a keen interest in heritage signs especially those linked to the Ministry of Works. It has been reported that the Ministry of Works signs from Woodhenge, an early example of interpretative plaques, have been stolen.

Further details are available from Looting Matters.

Keep on the ramparts!

Framlingham Castle © David Gill
Framlingham Castle © David Gill

One of the Ministry of Works signs at Framlingham Castle in Suffolk is easily overlooked. (And I am grateful to one of the custodians for pointing it out to me.) There is a one way system in operation on the ramparts: you enter via the shop (and up a staircase) and exit through the exhibition area. As you enter the rampart walkway there is a simple sign reminding you that there is no way back.

The towers at Framlingham each carry a number.

Deal Castle: the Property of the Crown

Deal Castle
Deal Castle (2014) © David Gill

Deal Castle is one of Henry VIII’s artillery forts designed to protect the anchorage between the Kent coast and the Goodwin Sands. Inside the ‘Gatehouse Bastion’ is this official sign. The castle was given to the Ministry of Works by the War Department in 1904.

Entrance to Grimes Graves

Ministry of Works Grimes Graves
Visitor Centre at Grimes Graves (2015)

The visitor’s centre at Grimes Graves still has the original Ministry of Works ‘Entrance’ sign attached to the building.

Heritage Signs for Temple Wood

Temple Wood
Sign for the Temple Wood Circle, Kilmartin © David Gill

There is something reassuring about the retention of the ‘old’ sign for the Temple Wood stone circle(s) in the prehistoric landscape around Kilmartin. The site is now managed by Historic Scotland.

Heritage Signs: Commandant’s House

Chesters Roman Fort: Commandant’s House © David Gill

Foundations of buildings can be hard to understand and the Ministry of Works labelled individual buildings and features for visitors. This sign is placed on the east side of the ‘Commandant’s House’ at Chesters Roman Fort on Hadrian’s Wall (Northumberland).

Professor Eric Birley’s guide (Chesters Roman Fort, Ministry of Public Buildings and Works, 1960; sixth impression 1970) has a section on the ‘Commandant’s House and bath-house’ (p. 21). The building was excavated by John Clayton in 1843. The same terminology is also used on the fort plan.

Nick Hodgson’s guide (Chesters Roman Fort, English Heritage, 2011) has a section on the ‘Commanding officer’s house (Praetorium)’ (no. 4) and ‘Praetorium baths’ (no. 5). Indeed the sign ‘Commandant’s House’ is placed on what Hodgson defines as the ‘Praetorium baths’.

My 13th edition of Collingwood Bruce’s Handbook to the Roman Wall (1978) [ed. Charles Daniels] identifies the ‘House and baths of commandant’ (on the plan) but discusses ‘the commanding-officer’s house’ and ‘the commanding-officers’ [sic.] bath-house’ (p. 115). My 14th edition (2006; David J. Breeze) refers to the ‘commanding officer’s house’ (p. 203).

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