The Roman fort of Brecon Gaer lies to the west of Brecon. It is probably to be identified with the Cicucium (Cicutium) from the Ravenna list. The fort was excavated by Sir Mortimer Wheeler in 1924 and 1925, and the remains placed in State Guardianship in 1953. He suggested that the fort was constructed c. AD 75.
A funerary inscription, dating to c. AD 100, belonged to a trooper in the Cavalry Regiment of Vettonian Spaniards (RIB 403). Another tombstone for a trooper from another cavalry regiment is also known from the site (RIB 405). The same cavalry unit was based in Binchester in Co. Durham in the 190s (RIB 730; 1032; 1035). (The guide suggests that the unit was based at Bowes [see guidebook] but the confusion comes from a dedication made at Bowes.)
Oswin E. Craster prepared the short guide (1954). This consisted of a history followed by a description of the remains.
The later DOE guide is an updated version of the paper guide. The concertina card guide was also used for other Roman forts such as Hardknott, and the Saxon Shore Fort at Reculver.
Tantallon Castle was placed in State Guardianship in 1924. Its first official guidebook was prepared by J.S. Richardson, Inspector of Ancient Monuments for Scotland, and published in 1932 (and reissued in 1937). It was thus one of the earliest of the guides prepared for historic sites in Scotland. The guide starts with a description (pp. 3–11), followed by a history (pp. 12–31). A plan showing the outworks is printed opposite the title page, and a plan and cross-sections are printed on a fold-out sheet inside the back cover. The text is supported by black and white photographs.
1950 (2nd ed.; 1966, 7th impress.)
1950 (2nd ed.; 1972, 8th impress.)
Richardson’s guide continued into the 1970s as the blue guide. The format of description followed by history is the same. The fold-out plan continued to be placed inside the back cover. The side headings of the 1930s guide were turned into bold sub-headings.
1994 (rev. ed. 2007)
Chris Tabraham revised the Historic Scotland ‘Official Souvenir Guide’. This contains a guided tour followed by a history. There is a section on the spectacular Bass Rock, home to gannets. There is no plan of the castle, but the guided tour has a number view from the air to help orientate the visitor.
The combined guidebook to the Bishop’s Palace and the Earl’s Palace in Kirkwall, Orkney, was prepared by W. Douglas Simpson. Both palaces had been placed in State Guardianship in 1920.
The older Bishop’s Palace was linked to St Magnus’ Cathedral in Orkney. It was constructed in the 12th century. The Earl’s Palace was constructed by Earl Patrick from 1601; he incorporated the remains of the former Bishop’s Palace that had passed to his father, Earl Robert Stewart in 1568.
The guide contains an Introduction, followed by sections on the Bishop’s Palace and the Earl’s Palace (each with a history followed by a description), then a short bibliography and a glossary. A double-sided fold-out plan inside the back cover provides details for both palaces.
Both palaces now feature in the Historic Scotland guide to the monuments of Orkney by Caroline Wickham-Jones.
I have noted before the 1922 Office of Works guide to Old Sarum. In 1965 H. de S. Shortt prepared an illustrated guide to Old Sarum for the MPBW in the format that had been produced in the 1950s for other sites in State Guardianship. The cover is based on the 1819 map prepared by Henry Wansey. One of the first features is a double page spread (pp. 4–5) providing a plan for the castle, the outer bailey and the original cathedral. The guide starts with the situation, noting paintings by John Constable (reproduced in the centre pages), before moving into the historical outline with sub-sections on prehistory, Roman-Britain, Anglo-Saxon, Norman, and then later periods. It includes reconstructions by Alan Sorrell. There is then a guide to the remains, both the inner bailey, as well as the old cathedral. There are two appendices: A note on the name of Old Sarum; Saint Osmund; Excavaions at or adjoining Old Sarum.
Derek Renn prepared the English Heritage guide (1994). The two main sections are ‘What to see’ (no longer, ‘a tour’ or ‘a description’), and ‘The story of Old Sarum’ (not ‘a history’). A pictorial ‘tour’ is provided in the centre pages. It contains sections on prehistory, Rome, as well as the Normans. One section addresses ‘From city to rotten borough’.
Renn had earlier prepared the MPBW souvenir guide to Shell Keeps in Devon and Cornwall (1969), and the English Heritage guidebooks for Orford and Framlingham Castles (1988), Goodrich Castle (1993).
The latest English Heritage guide is by John McNeill, with fold out plans inside the front and back covers. The two main sections are the tour, and a history, with features on the demolition of the cathedral and beneath the ramparts, showing some of the early investigations of the site.
Beauly Priory in Inverness-shire was a Valliscaulian foundation of 1230, by Sir John Bisset. The paper guide was prepared by William Douglas Simpson (1896-1968) in 1954; a second edition was published in 1978. The guide contains a short history followed by a description. A plan of the church is printed on the central pages.
Simpson served as university librarian for the University of Aberdeen (1926–66). He excavated at several castles in Scotland and write several Ministry guides (including Urquhart Castle).
Osborne House was opened to the public in 1954 and John Charlton, Inspector of Ancient Monuments, prepared the Ministry of Works ‘Official Guide’. There is a single narrative that effectively provides a tour of the house and grounds. There are numerous black and white illustrations.
1960 (rev. 1968)
1960 (rev. 1974)
Charlton’s Guide was revised and the text continued to be used by both the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works and the Department of the Environment. While the text remained largely the same, the new souvenir guide format include colour images. These are in the format of souvenir guides written for other sites in State Guardianship.
1989 (9th ed. 2004)
The 1989 guidebook was by Michael Turner and was published in nine editions (to 2014) and has been replaced by the English Heritage ‘red’ guide. Essentially this was divided into two main sections: the tour (including the exterior) and the history.
The present English Heritage guidebook is written by Turner. It contains a tour of the house, tour of the gardens, followed by a history . There are seven special features explaining aspects life at Osborne.
2007 (2nd ed. 2014, rev. 2016)
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.
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.