Portchester Castle: guidebooks


Portchester Castle © David Gill

Portchester Castle consists of a Late Roman Saxon Shore fort, with a Medieval castle and church placed within its walls. It was placed in Statue Guardianship in 1926 and Sir Charles Peers wrote the first official guidebook in 1933.


1965 (3rd impress. with amendments, 1969)

Stuart E. Rigold revised Peers’ text in a 3rd edition of the text (1965). This was divided into two main parts: a history and a description. The description included sections on the Roman fortress, the medieval castle, and the church (for an Augustinian priory). There are two fold-out plans inside the back cover: the Roman fort, and a plan of the medieval castle.


1990 (2000)

The new English Heritage guide was prepared by Julian T. Munby (who had excavated on the site with Barry Cunliffe). This contains two tours: The Medieval Castle, and the Outer Bailey and Roman Fort. These are followed by a history of the castle including the Roman fort and the Saxon settlement. The guide has numerous reconstruction drawings and photographs. The centre pages provide an overview of the whole castle.


2003 (2nd ed. 2008, rev. reprint 2011)

The current English Heritage guidebook is by John Goodall. It contains a tour followed by a history, with special sections on ‘Building the Roman Fort’ and ‘Prisoners of War’. There are plans of the fort and the different levels of the castle on a foldout plan inside the back cover.

Kyleakin, Castle Moil


Castle Moil, Kyleakin, Isle of Skye © David Gill, 2008

Castle Moil at Kyleakin on Skye was struck by lightning this week (14 February). Parts of the remains were damaged (“Lightning damages historic castle on Isle of Skye“, BBC News, 19 February 2018). This image shows the castle prior to the damage.

Yarmouth Castle: guidebooks


2003 [1978]

Yarmouth Castle on the Isle of Wight was one of a series of defences for the Solent. It was constructed after a  French raid of 1545 during the reign of Henry VIII, and was nearly complete by the autumn of 1547. The castle continued to be used for coastal defence until 1885. The castle was placed in the care of the Office of Works in 1913.


1958 (repr. 1962)

S.E. Rigold wrote the first paper guide for the castle in 1958. It consisted of a detailed history (nearly five and a half pages) followed by a description. The centre page consists of a site plan along with plans of the ground, first and second floors. The price (in 1962) was 4d.


1985 (repr. 1987, 1990)

Rigold’s guide was reprinted in 1978, and formed the basis of the English Heritage ‘white’ guidebook (1985). This started wit ha description followed by the history.  It is illustrated with black and white photographs, and the centre pages use the 1958 plans though with updated typography. The text is also identical to the 1958 guide with the addition, ‘Since 1984 Yarmouth Castle has been in the care of English Heritage’.

The back cover of this guide bears the Gateway marketing.


1985 (repr. 1987, 1990)

The present English Heritage guidebook is essentially the same as the 1985 publication except with a colour cover (most recently reprinted in 2012).

Totnes Castle: Guidebook



Totnes Castle in Devon forms one of the Shell Keeps in Devon and Cornwall. The castle was placed in State Guardianship in 1947, and S.E. Rigold wrote the first MPBW pamphlet guide in 1952. This continued as the DOE pamphlet guide (1979) [8 pp.; price 5p] with the blue header making a reference to the fuller ‘blue guides’ available at other sites.


1987 (2nd ed. 1990)

This was expanded, with very slightly adapted text as an English Heritage guide (1983; 2nd ed. 1990 [30p]). It doubled in length and included black and white photographs, a single page plan, and a reconstruction by Alan Sorrell. The description now preceded the history.

Nunney Castle: Guidebook


1957 (6th impress. with amendments, 1967)

Nunney Castle in Somerset was placed in State Guardianship in 1926. The guidebook was prepared by Stuart Rigold (1957); it remained in print until 1977. The guidebook takes the usual format of History followed by Description with a single plan in text. There are a number of black and white illustrations including a drawing of the back by S. and N. Buck.

Eynsford Castle: Guidebook


1964 (3rd impress. with amendments 1965)

Eynford Castle in Kent was placed in State Guardianship in 1948. The ruins were consolidated and Stuart Rigold prepared a guidebook (1964). This consisted of the standard format of History followed by Description. There were black and white photographs with a fold-out plan in the back.

The design is based on the seal of William de Eynsford III in Christ Church, Canterbury.


1964 (7th impress. 1974)

This guidebook was amended in 1974, and appeared as the English Heritage guide for the site in 1984. One of the changes made was the layout with bold sub-headings for different parts of the castle.

Defending the Solent


2001 [1985]

The Solent provides access to the major harbours of Portsmouth and Southampton. Given the naval sensitivities of the area this seaway was heavily defended by a series of fortifications. The western entrance was defended by Hurst Castle built on a spit of land projecting into the Solent. The earliest phase was a Tudor fort contemporary with Deal and Walmer Castles in Kent. The castle was adapted in the Napoleonic Wars, and expanded in the 1850s, 1860s and 1870s. The English Heritage guidebook is by J.G. Coad.


2003 [1978]

Yarmouth Castle is located opposite Hurst Castle on the Isle of Wight. This was also a Tudor foundation. The guidebook is by S.E. Rigold.



Calshot Castle is located at the mouth of Southampton Water. This was also part of the Tudor defences of the Solent. During the First World War, Calshot became a seaplane base to protect against submarines. The guidebook is by J.G. Coad.