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:
One of the most dramatic castles is Peveril standing above the Derbyshire village of Castleton famous for its Blue John mines.
Scarborough Castle has dramatic views over the bays on each side. It also contains a Roman signal station.
Brougham Castle lies on the site of a Roman fort on the Roman road that crossed the Pennines.
Farnham Castle dominates the town.
Castle Rising has a wonderful keep standing within earthworks.
Orford provides magnificent views over the Suffolk coast.
Hadleigh Castle provides dramatic views over the Thames estuary.
Helmsley Castle lies on the edge of the Yorkshire market town.
The Senhouse Roman Museum at the Roman fort of Maryport on the Cumbrian coast contains an extensive series of Latin inscriptions. Among them is this altar (RIB 816), found in 1870 to the north-east of the fort. It was dedicated by the prefect of the Cohors I Hispanorum, L. Antistius Lupus Verianus, from Sicca in Africa (Numidia Proconsularis). David Breeze provisionally dates his command to 136 (and prior to 139 when the Cohors I Delmatarum arrived).
The Cistercian abbey at Furness was established at the present site in 1127. It was placed in State Guardianship in 1923. The official guidebook was prepared by J.C. Dickinson in 1965. This contains a history, followed by an itinerary and description. A fold-out plan is placed inside the back cover.
The ‘blue guide’ continued into the 1980s as an English Heritage guide. It was replaced in 1998 by a new illustrated guide, combined with Piel Castle, by Stuart Harrison and Jason Wood; the section on Piel Castle was prepared by Rachel Newman. A fold-out plan of the abbey as well as its surrounding area is printed on the fold-out back cover.
The Premonstratensian abbey at Shap was founded in the 12th century. The remains were placed in State Guardianship by the Lowther Estates in 1948.
The MPBW guide was first published in 1963. It was divided into two sections, each by separate authors (a pattern found for other sites, e.g. guides prepared by James S. Richardson). The history was prepared by H.M. Colvin of St John’s College, Oxford (pp. 3–5), followed by the Architectural History (pp. 5–6) and Description (pp. 6–15) by R. Gilyard-Beer. A fold-out plan of the abbey was placed inside the back cover. There are four black and white plates, including a pen drawing of 1859 and a Buck engraving of 1739.
The tower on Pike Hill lies between MC52 (Bankhead) and T52a (Banks East). Only the south corner survives after the road was adapted in 1870. The tower was excavated in 1931, and associated pottery suggests that it was probably constructed around the reign of Hadrian. Unlike the turrets on Hadrian’s Wall, the wall is attached at an angle suggesting that the tower predates the later defensive line.
An inscription recording Antoninus Pius was found here in 1862 (RIB 1957). The slab is now in the Tullie House Museum.
The 13th century keep of Brougham Castle, Cumbria incorporates reused masonry from the Roman fort (Brocavum). A Latin funerary inscription is built into the ceiling of the second floor (RIB 787). The person named is Tittus M[..] who died around the age of 32 (‘[pl]us minus’). The monument was set up by his brother.
An inscription found at Birdoswald in 1821 is now displayed in the small site museum (RIB 1905). It had previously been displayed in the undercroft at nearby Lanercost Priory (and where it features in Charles M. Daniels, Handbook to the Roman Wall 13th ed.).
The altar was dedicated to the ‘holy god’ Silvanus, and the dedicators were the venatores or hunters of Banna. Banna is almost certainly Birdoswald, and is a name also known from the Rudge cup found at Froxfield in Wiltshire (for the replica, now in the British Museum) that shows some of the forts along Hadrian’s Wall.
It has been suggested that the inscription should be dated to the 3rd century (supported by David Breeze in his Handbook to the Roman Wall).