English Heritage: Top 10 Castles

Bolsover Castle © David Gill

English Heritage has been asking its members for its top 10 castles. The list consists of: Dover, Kenilworth, Tintagel, Bolsover, Portchester, Warkworth, Dunstanburgh, Carisbrooke, Middleham and Beeston.

Many of these would be in my personal top 10 English Heritage castles especially Bolsover. But what would I want to include? Leaving aside the artillery forts like Pendennis and Tilbury, I would want to consider:

Peveril Castle, Castleton, Derbyshire © David Gill

One of the most dramatic castles is Peveril standing above the Derbyshire village of Castleton famous for its Blue John mines.

Scarborough Castle © David Gill

Scarborough Castle has dramatic views over the bays on each side. It also contains a Roman signal station.

Brougham Castle © David Gill

Brougham Castle lies on the site of a Roman fort on the Roman road that crossed the Pennines.

Farnham Castle © David Gill

Farnham Castle dominates the town.

Castle Rising © David Gill

Castle Rising has a wonderful keep standing within earthworks.

Orford Castle © David Gill

Orford provides magnificent views over the Suffolk coast.

Hadleigh Castle © David Gill

Hadleigh Castle provides dramatic views over the Thames estuary.

Helmsley Castle © David Gill

Helmsley Castle lies on the edge of the Yorkshire market town.

Tynemouth Priory and Castle: guidebooks

Tynemouth Priory and Castle © David Gill

Tynemouth priory and church are located on the north side of the mouth of the river Tyne. The first guidebook, by R.Neville Hadcock, was published in 1936; the second edition appeared in 1952, continuing as an English Heritage ‘Handbook’ in 1986. It followed the standard format of History followed by description; there is an extended glossary.

The guidebook was replaced by Andrew D. Saunders (1993).

1986

The most recent guidebook is by Grace McCombie (2008). This starts with a tour followed by the history. It includes a section on the headland in the First and Second World Wars, with detailed descriptions of the gun batteries.

2008

Dunstanburgh Castle: guidebooks

Dunstanburgh Castle © David Gill

Dunstanburgh Castle on the Northumberland coast was placed in State Guardianship in 1929. Construction had started in 1313. The first official guide was published in 1936 with the section on the history of the castle by C.H. Hunter Blair, and the description by H.L. Honeyman. The cover carries the arms of Thomas, second Earl of Lancaster (1277–1322). There is a foldout plan inside the back cover. The guide continued into the 1970s.

1936 (2nd ed. 1955, 4th impress. 1962)
10th impress. 1973

A colour illustrated guide was prepared by Henry Summerson (1993). The main section is dedicated to a tour of the castle, and there is a helpful bird’s-eye view to help to orientate the visitor. There is a short section with biographical notes on Thomas of Lancaster and John of Gaunt.

1993

Alastair Oswald and Jeremy Ashbee prepared the English Heritage red guide (2007). This contains a bird’s-eye view and a plan of the castle on the fold-out card cover. The tour contains helpful thumbnail plans to help the visitor located their position. There is a section on Dunstanburgh and coastal defence during World War 2.

2007 (repr. 2016)

Carnasserie Castle: signs

Carnasserie Castle © David Gill

Canrasserie Castle lies to the north of Kilmartin village. In February 1559 the castle was awarded to John Carswell (c. 1522–1572) [ODNB], the minister of Kilmartin. (Note the alternative spelling on the site sign.) In 1567 he was presented as bishop of the Isles. One of his main contributions was his translation of the Book of Common Order (1564) into Gaelic, Foirm na n-urrnuidheadh (1567).

The present castle was constructed between 1565 and 1572, replacing an earlier building. The castle was destroyed in 1685 during the rebellion of the 9th Earl of Argyll.

Carnasserie Castle © David Gill

Heritage site in Wales to reopen

Laugharne Castle © David Gill

Properties in the care of Cadw will be re-opening from August following the COVID-19 lockdown (“Wales’ ancient monuments set to reopen in August“, BBC News 18 July 2020). The first to re-open will be the castle at Laugharne on 4 August 2020.

The properties will include UNESCO World Heritage sites such as the castles and town walls of King Edward in Gwynedd (Beaumaris, Caernarfon, Conwy, and Harlech) and Blaenavon Industrial Landscape.

Heritage tourism: East Anglia

Ickworth © David Gill

The top seven paid heritage visitor attractions in East Anglia (Norfolk and Suffolk) account for 1.1 million visitors a year (2018). Four are properties managed by the National Trust: Ickworth, Blickling Hall, Felbrigg Hall, and Oxburgh Hall. Framlingham Castle is managed by English Heritage.

Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery © David Gill

There is a single museum, the Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery.

Sheringham Station, the Poppy Line © David Gill

The Poppy Line (North Norfolk Railway) is also in the top seven.

Chart © David Gill

Top 10 Heritage Sites for Norfolk

Grimes Graves
Galleries at the bottom of Pit 1 at Grimes Graves (2015) © David Gill

I have been thinking about my Top 10 heritage sites in Norfolk. This is very much a personal choice, and the locations are placed in (rough) chronological order. I have tried to include a variety of types of heritage site. How can you decide between Norwich Cathedral and Norwich Castle? Or between Felbrigg and Blickling? Castle Rising and Castle Acre?

Grime’s Graves. You can descend into the Neolithic flint mines.

Burgh Castle
The Roman fort at Burgh Castle © David Gill

Burgh Castle. One of the best preserved Roman forts of the Saxon Shore.

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Norwich Cathedral © David Gill

Norwich Cathedral. The cathedral is an architectural gem and dominates the city.

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Binham Priory © David Gill

Binham Priory. Part of the Benedictine priory is still in use as the parish church.

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Castle Rising © David Gill

Castle Rising. This well-preserved keep is dominated by a series of earthworks.

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Oxburgh Hall © David Gill

Oxburgh Hall. The moated hall at Oxburgh contains fabulous tapestries.

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Felbrigg Hall © David Gill

Felbrigg Hall. The 17th century front to the house is a gem.

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Holkham Hall © David Gill

Holkham Hall. One of the most magnificent houses and Grand Tour collections in Norfolk.

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North Norfolk Railway, Sheringham Station © David Gill

The North Norfolk Railway (The Poppy Line). The journey between Sheringham and Holt provides views of the coast as well as the Norfolk countryside.

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Sandringham © David Gill

Sandringham. The Royal residence sits in the middle of extensive landscaped grounds.

Outlander and heritage tourism

Doune_8
Doune Castle © David Gill

The Outlander series of books and TV series is having an impact on visitor numbers at heritage sites in Scotland (“Outlander tourism effect a ‘double edged sword’“, BBC News 15 February 2020). Doune Castle is reported to have a 200 per cent increase, rising from 38,000 in 2013 to 142,000 in 2008. It is now the fifth most popular Historic Environment Scotland site.

Culloden, managed by the National Trust for Scotland, has also seen a large increase in visitor numbers to over 213,000 in 2018.

culloden_NTS_visit
Source for Data: ALVA

Colchester Castle Museum: engaging with the past

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Colchester Castle Museum © David Gill

The collection within Colchester Castle contains one of the best presented collections of objects from Roman Britain. It is displayed in an imaginative and engaging way from the mosaics and (funerary) sculptures to the inscriptions and pottery.

In spite of this Colchester has, surprisingly, not featured as high in the list of museums for the RSA Heritage Index.

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Roman funerary monuments in Colchester Castle © David Gill

The Development of Guidebooks for Heritage Sites in England

StBotolph_OW
1917

These covers show the development from the first official guidebook (St Botolph’s) issued by the Office of Works through to English Heritage. These guides range from small booklets to concertina card guides.

For the development of guides in Scotland see here.

Pyx_Office_of_Works
1949

Scilly_green
1949 (repr. 1952)

Dartmouth_MW
1951 (repr. 1954)

corbridge_green_cov
1954

Osborne_MW
1955

Audley End
Audley End (1955)

Pevensey_green
1952 (repr. 1956)

 

Shap_MPBW
1963 (3rd impress. with amendments)

OldSarum_souv
1965

Goodrich_MPBW
1958 (5th impress. 1967)

Maison_Dieu_MPBW
1958 (3rd impress. with amendments 1967)

StantonDrew_MPBW
Revised 1969

Hetty_Pegler_DOE
1970

Aldborough_blue
1970

Helmsley_blue
1966 [3rd impress. 1971]

Saxtead_DOE_blue
1972

Glastonbury_DOE
(1973)

Egglestone_DOE
1958 (8th impress. 1976)

Totnes_DOE
1979

Stott_Park_DOE
1983

GrimesGraves_DOE_front
1984

Bayham_blue
1974 (1985)

Chysauster_EH_white
1987

EH_Orford_early
1964 (1982; English Heritage 1988; repr. 1975)

Middleham_EH_1993
1993

Portchester_EH
1990 (2000)

Tintagel_EH
1999 (repr. 2002)

Richborough_EH
(2012)

Furness_Piel_EH
1998 (rev. 2015)

Pendennis_StM_EH_red
2012 (2nd ed. 2018)