ALVA has released the visitor figures for 2022. The top 10 English Heritage sites attracted 2.6 million visitors against 1.6 million for the same 10 sites in 2021. This is down from the 3.4 million visitors who went to the same ten sites in 2019 prior to the pandemic. Stonehenge has seen the largest recovery from 334,087 in 2021 to 977,316 in 2022: this is still down from 1.6 million in 2019. Clifford’s Tower had record number in 2022 well above the pre-pandemic levels.
English Heritage: Top 10 Castles
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.
Fortuna and Bowes
Two inscriptions from Roman forts on the road across the Pennines are now displayed in Cambridge: one is the Brough Stone now in the Fitzwilliam Museum, and the other is an inscription from Bowes, Co. Durham, now in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (RIB 730; D 1970.3). (For the site of the fort now occupied by a castle.)
The Bowes inscription was transferred, along with 15 other inscriptions from various sites in Britain, from the library of Trinity College to the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in 1970. The altar has been known since at least 1600 when it appeared in Camden’s Britannia. It was found at the Roman fort of Bowes (Lavatrae) to the north-west of Richmond.
The altar is dedicated to the goddess Fortuna. The dedication is made by Virius Lupus, the governor of the province (from AD 197), who restored the bath-house that had been destroyed by fire. Virius Lupus is also known from another project at Ilkley that is dated to exactly the same period (RIB 637). The garrison unit is named as the 1st Cohort of Thracians (see also RIB 740 from the governorship of L. Alfenus Senecio, 205–c. 208). The work was carried out by Valerius Fronto, the cavalry prefect of the Vettonians, based at the fort of Binchester (Vinovia) to the north-east of Bowes.
Roman roads in State Guardianship
The construction of roads transformed the landscape of Britain. Yet only a limited number of fragments have been placed in State Guardianship. One of the most dramatic sections is a stretch that crosses Wheeldale Moor in North Yorkshire.
A stretch of Dere Street near Soutra in Scotland has been preserved. This passed through Corbridge and Newstead.
Further south Dere Street crossed the river Tees at Piercebridge and remains of the bridge have been found.
A Roman milestone on the Stanegate near the fort of Vindolanda was placed in Guardianship.
Mount Grace: restrictions
A free-standing Ministry sign has been used to stop access to Mount Grace Priory round the front of the building.
Pickering Castle: closed
The entrance to the car-park at Pickering Castle has a blended Ministry-English Heritage sign indicating when the site is closed to the public.
Middleham Castle: guidebooks
Middleham Castle was placed in state guardianship in 1925. The first guidebook was prepared by (Sir) Charles Peers in 1933; a second edition appeared in 1965. The guide would be followed by other Yorkshire castles: Richmond (1934) and Helmsley (1946).
This remained in print until 1984 when it was replaced by a new English Heritage guide by Beric Morley.
This paper guide consists of six pages, i.e. each side with three pages. A plan was printed in the centre. It consisted of a short history followed by a description.
Morley’s guide was replaced in 1993 by a new guide prepared by John Weaver. This contains a tour and description, followed by a history. There are numerous colour images and plans
Weaver’s guide was updated in 1998.
Helmsley Castle: guidebooks
Helmsley Castle was placed in State Guardianship in 1923. The first official guidebook was prepared by Sir Charles Peers in 1946. This consisted of a history followed by a description. A fold-out map was placed inside the back cover.
Glyn Coppack prepared a new English Heritage guide in 1990. It starts with a description and is followed by the history of the castle. A colour reconstruction of the castle by Alan Sorrell is placed in the centre. A double page plan is placed inside the back cover.
Jonathan Clark prepared the 2004 English Heritage guide. The description has been replaced by a tour. It is then followed by a history. A coloured plan showing the different phases is placed sinde the back cover.
John R. Kenyon prepared the English Heritage ‘red’ guide. This consists of a tour and a history. A plan is placed inside the back card cover.
Helmsley Castle: signage
One of the Ministry signs has been used at Helmsley Castle in Yorkshire. Variants of this include ‘Out of Bounds’ (Berwick upon Tweed), ‘No Access Beyond This Point’ (Dundrennan Abbey), ‘Private’ (Hadrian’s Wall; New Abbey Cornmill), ‘No Admittance Without Ticket’ (Saxtead Green), and ‘No Admittance to Abbey This Way’ (Easby Abbey).
There was a ‘No Exit’ sign at Framlingham Castle.
The path to Whitby Abbey
Ministry signs continue to enhance the townscape. A particularly good example is the signed route from the quayside at Whitby up the steps to the Abbey.