Tuesday

Denizens Of The Castle

The Witch

The Christian Warrior

The Merchant

The Plague Physician

The Blue Knight

Practicing For The Joust

The Knight From The North

Thursday

Leeds Castle Landscape

Leeds Castle Landscape

Listed in the Domesday Book as a Saxon manor, Leeds Castle has played many roles in the intervening centuries.
It has been a Norman  stronghold;  the private property of six of England’s medieval  queens; a palace used by Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon; a Jacobean country house; a Georgian  mansion; an elegant
early 20th-century retreat for the influential and famous; and, in the 21st century, it has become one of the most visited historic buildings in Britain.




Tuesday

Welcome to Castle Magick

Welcome to Castle Magick



© COPYRIGHT NOTICE
All rights to my work are reserved to Chris Lord and these images may NOT be reproduced, 
copied, edited, published, transmitted or uploaded in any way without my written permission

Monday

The Bridge To the Castle

The Bridge To the Castle
Pevensey Castle is a medieval castle and former Roman fort at Pevensey in the English county of East Sussex. The site is a Scheduled Monument in the care of English Heritage and is open to visitors. Here it is late afternoon as we look across the moat toward the castles main entrance.

War Helm

War Helm


The great helm or heaume, also called pot helm, bucket helm and barrel helm, of the High Middle Ages arose in the late twelfth century in the context of the crusades and remained in use until the fourteenth century. They were used by knights and heavy infantry in most European armies between about 1220 to 1540 AD, however they were used widely throughout Christian armies in the Third Crusade

The Man In The Iron Mask

The Man In The Iron Mask







The Man in the Iron Mask (French: L'Homme au Masque de Fer) is a name given to a prisoner arrested as Eustache Dauger in 1669 or 1670, and held in a number of jails, including the Bastille and the Fortress of Pignerol (today Pinerolo). He was held in the custody of the same jailer, Bénigne Dauvergne de Saint-Mars, for a period of 34 years. He died on 19 November 1703 under the name of Marchioly, during the reign of Louis XIV of France (1643–1715). The possible identity of this man has been thoroughly discussed and has been the subject of many books, because no one ever saw his face, which was hidden by a mask of black velvet cloth. In the second edition of his Questions sur l'Encyclopédie (French for "Questions on the Encyclopedia"), published in 1771, the writer and philosopher Voltaire claimed that the prisoner wore an iron mask and was the older, illegitimate brother of Louis XIV. In the late 1840s, the writer Alexandre Dumas elaborated on the theme in the final installment of his Three Musketeers saga: here the prisoner is forced to wear an iron mask and is Louis XIV's twin brother.

Sunday

Fortress

Fortress

Many military installations are known as forts, although they are not always fortified. Larger forts may class as fortresses; smaller ones formerly often bore the name of fortalices. The word fortification can also refer to the practice of improving an area's defence with defensive works. City walls are fortifications but not necessarily called fortresses.
The art of setting out a military camp or constructing a fortification traditionally classifies as castramentation, since the time of the Roman legions. The art/science of laying siege to a fortification and of destroying it has the popular name of siegecraft or 'siege warfare' and the formal name of poliorcetics. In some texts this latter term also applies to the art of building a fortification.
Fortification is usually divided into two branches, namely permanent fortification and field fortification. Permanent fortifications are erected at leisure, with all the resources that a state can supply of constructive and mechanical skill, and are built of enduring materials. Field fortifications are extemporized by troops in the field, perhaps assisted by such local labour and tools as may be procurable and with materials that do not require much preparation, such as earth, brushwood and light timber, or sandbags.
There is also an intermediate branch known as semi-permanent fortification. This is employed when in the course of a campaign it becomes desirable to protect some locality with the best imitation of permanent defences that can be made in a short time, ample resources and skilled civilian labour being available.
Castles are fortifications which are regarded as being distinct from the generic fort or fortress in that it describes a residence of a monarch or noble and commands a specific defensive territory.

Wednesday

Return To Castle Warwick

Return to Castle Warwick

Attacked in 1264, besieged in 1642 and damaged by fire in 1871, the castle has nevertheless gloriously survived the ever-changing fortunes of history. The origins of Warwick Castle can be traced back to the Saxon fortification which Ethelfleda, daughter of Alfred the Great, used to defend against the invading Danes. The first castle to appear on the site was a wooden motte and bailey constructed in 1068 at the command of William the Conqueror. By 1220, the Castle had undergone a major transformation, as stone replaced wood as the principal building material. A ‘shell keep’, a circular tower with thick, crenellated walls and fighting platforms for its soldiers, topped the mound which was defended by a 7.6m stone curtain wall which surrounded it. Throughout the 14th and 15th centuries, a massive rebuilding programme transformed Warwick Castle yet again. Two colossal towers that still dominate the east of the castle; imposing itself on the river was Caesar’s tower with its stepped base; and to the right was twelve-sided Guy’s Tower. On 2nd March 1450, Henry VI conferred on Richard Neville, the husband of Anne de Beauchamp, the title Earl of Warwick. History was to know him better as Warwick the Kingmaker. The Wars of the Roses, which began in the early 1450’s and ended with the battle of Bosworth in 1485, were a prolonged struggle for supremacy between the Houses of York and Lancaster. Neville’s family connections made him a Yorkist. He held a command at the Battle of St Albans in 1455, which ended in defeat for the Lancastrians and with the capture of the hapless Henry. By 1461 the Yorkists had won the 1st war of succession and Edward, son of the Duke of York ascended the English throne. As a reward for his help, Warwick rose to a position of great power.









Tuesday

Dark Towers

Dark Towers

The towers of the inner ward were used for other purposes than just defense, unlike the towers of the outer ward and the town wall. There were sometimes only four inner ward towers, and they were also much larger. There were four main floors in each tower with a fifth floor (the lookout tower) at the top. The first three floors were enclosed inside the tower. The ground floor was usually used as storage room and was called the basement. The second and third floors could be used as living space, or an office for the different servants in the castle, such as a steward. There was usually a fireplace in one or both of these floors. Smoke traveled up through a hole in the wall to the top of the tower. The fourth floor was really just an open platform on the roof. It was capped on all sides with merlons. The fifth floor was the top of the lookout tower. It was also capped with merlons. All the floors could be reached by a spiral staircases built into the wall. The floors themselves were usually made of wood. Like the floors in most houses, they were covered with reeds and sweet smelling herbs. The first two floors had no windows except for arrow holes usually. The third floor and occasionally the second floor had windows. There was no glass because that was very expensive. In the opening, a iron grate was laid to keep out attackers if they managed to climb up the tower to that height. Shudders were used to keep out wind.

One of the towers in the inner ward was usually reserved as a chapel. It was different from the other towers in that it had one room that was two stories high. There was still a basement and two floors exposed to the element above the two storied room. In the two storied room was the chapel. It often had stained glass windows, albeit not overly large ones. The purpose of the tower was still defense. These windows also had metal panes to protect from intruders. The altar was next to the windows. On the second floor level was a place for the lord and his family to sit. Other church goers would stand on the wooden floor above the basement. Mass was said by the castle chaplain.

Towers could also be used as prisons. Below the basement, a hole could be dug or cut into rock. It was reached through a trap door from above. These holes in the ground were very dark and were used to keep prisoners for ransom, usually. Criminals were usually not held in a castle. These holes were called dungeons, or oubliettes.

A tower might be used for many other things too. They were often used for servant's quarters. In many larger castles, the steward had his own tower where his bedroom and office was located. Other town and castle officials often lived in towers. A tower could be used as a guesthouse, also.

Sunday

The Castle at Arundel

The Ghosts of Arundel
There is reference to seven ghosts at Arundel: Earl Rodger de Montgomery, a broken hearted young woman, the Blue Man, a Cavalier, the kitchen boy, a small white bird, and a ghost seen in the servant quarters.

It has been nearly 1,000 years since Rodger de Montgomery, kinsman to William the Conqueror, built Arundel. It is believed that it is his ghost that haunts the castle's keep; the first Earl of Arundel has never left, perhaps keeping a watchful eye over his beloved castle.

Built on the top of a ridge high above the river Arun, the castle dominates the town below. Legend tells of a young woman becoming so stricken with grief she could not bear it any longer and climbed to the top of one of the towers and jumped to her death, following the painful end of a tragic love affair. This heartbroken young woman still wanders the top of the tower searching for her love; she can be seen on moonlit nights dressed in white. I have found conflicting stories about her. Some state she jumped from a tower in the castle, others state she had jumped from Hiorne Tower.  Hiorne Tower was built for the Duke of Norfolk in the late 18th century, located in Arundel Park behind the castle. The architect was Frances Hiorne.

The Blue Man has been seen since 1630. He has been seen many times floating around the library as he browses through the books.

There is mention of a Cavalier, but it is unclear just who this ghost is. One wonders if the Cavalier could be the Blue Man who is also referred to as being from the time of King Charles II's reign (c.1660-1685). The kitchen boy is defiantly not the Cavalier or the ghost seen in the servant's quarters

The story of the serving lad is quite sad and disturbing. He lived at the castle over 200 years ago, and, as the story goes, he was treated very badly, so badly that one day he was beaten to death. He haunts the kitchen and can been seen still scrubbing pots and pans.

Another ghost is of a small white bird. Legend tells that its appearance is a warning that someone closely connected to the castle is going to die. There is a reference to white American Owls: "Before restoration of the keep, which was left in ruin for its picturesque beauty, the Dukes used to keep a colony of owls. A tradition exists at the castle where, when a family member is about to die, a white owl is seen fluttering at one of the windows."

The last ghost was seen by a footman in training in 1958. One of his duties was to turn off the drawbridge lights at 11 p.m. Walking down the ground floor corridor towards the main switch box at the end of the servant's quarters "I was halfway along...when I was physically aware of something in front of me, about 15 feet away, going in the same direction. As I got nearer I could see the head and shoulders of a man wearing a light grey tunic with loose sleeves. He had long hair and was, I think about 24 years old, but how could one tell? I was behind him. The image was like that of an old photo, with the outline blurred. Because of poor light I could see nothing below waist level. As I walked on the strong impression seemed to fade and he had gone. He was there only for about half a minute I should think. I'm afraid I ran back along the corridor and I think I failed to switch off all the lights." The young man had never been interested in ghost stories and had never heard any of the castle's ghost stories, he stated "this was no kitchen scullion".

Thursday

The Blue Knight

 The Blue Knight

A knight is a person granted an honorary title of knighthood by a monarch or other political leader for service to the monarch or country, especially in a military capacity. Historically, in Europe, knighthood has been conferred upon mounted warriors.[1] During the High Middle Ages, knighthood was considered a class of lower nobility. By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior. Since the Early Modern period, the title of knight is purely honorific, usually bestowed by a monarch, as in the British honours system, often for non-military service to the country.
Historically, the ideals of chivalry were popularized in medieval literature, especially the Matter of Britain and Matter of France, the former based on Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae ("History of the Kings of Britain"), written in the 1130s. Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur ("The Death of Arthur"), written in 1485, was important in defining the ideal of chivalry which is essential to the modern concept of the knight as an elite warrior sworn to uphold the values of faith, loyalty, courage, and honour. During the Renaissance, the genre of chivalric romance became popular in literature, growing ever more idealistic and eventually giving rise to a new form of realism in literature popularised by Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote. This novel explored the ideals of knighthood and their incongruity with the reality of Cervantes' world. In the late medieval period, new methods of warfare began to render classical knights in armour obsolete, but the titles remained in many nations.
Some orders of knighthood, such as the Knights Templar, have become the subject of legend; others have disappeared into obscurity. Today, a number of orders of knighthood continue to exist in several countries, such as the English Order of the Garter, the Swedish Royal Order of the Seraphim, and the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav. Each of these orders has its own criteria for eligibility, but knighthood is generally granted by a head of state to selected persons to recognise some meritorious achievement.
Knighthood in the Middle Ages was closely linked with horsemanship (and especially the joust) from its origins in the 12th century until its final flowering as a fashion among the high nobility in the Duchy of Burgundy in the 15th century

Friday

The Red Knight

The Red Knight Rides Forth

Red Knight is a title borne by several characters in Arthurian legend. The first is likely the Red Knight of the Forest of Quinqeroi in Chrétien de Troyes' Perceval, the Story of the Grail; he steals a cup from King Arthur and is killed by the protagonist Perceval, who wears his armor and comes to be known as the Red Knight himself. In Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival, a retelling of Chrétien, the Red Knight is identified as Sir Ither, the Red Knight of Kukumerlant, a cousin to both Arthur and Parzival.
Two other Red Knights appear in the tale of Gareth in Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur. The first is named Sir Perimones and is also known as "The Puce Knight", who, like his three brothers the Black Knight, the "Green Knight" (distinct from the character in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight), and Sir Persant of Inde "The Blue Knight, is bested by the young Gareth. After these initial trials Gareth must face the Red Knight of the Red Launds, whose real name is Sir Ironside. Ironside has the strength of seven men and has trapped the princess of Lyonesse in a tower from which Gareth must save her. Though he had demonstrated a cruel and sadistic nature, Ironside is brought around and even made a Knight of the Round Table.
Furthermore, Gawain is also known as the Red Knight for a brief time in Perlesvaus, and Galahad is called by this name in the Lancelot-Grail cycle. In Chrétien de Troyes' story Yvain, the Knight of the Lion, the red knight Esclados guards a mystical fountain, and is defeated by Ywain.
In the 1998 animated film Quest for Camelot, The Red Knight is given the name Sir Ruber (voiced by Gary Oldman, and is portrayed as a power-hungry kleptomaniac attempting to claim Excalibur for himself.

Thursday

Lewes Castle

Lewes Castle


Lewes Castle stands at the highest point of Lewes, East Sussex, England on an artificial mound constructed with chalk blocks. It was originally called Bray Castle.

The first fortification on the site was a wooden keep, later converted to stone. It is unusual for a motte and bailey construction in that it has two mottes. It is one of only two such remaining in the country, the other being Lincoln. The Barbican is a particularly fine example of its type. It was built in 1069 by William de Warenne, 1st Earl of Surrey, the brother-in-Law of William the Conqueror. William de Warenne and his descendants also had estates and built castles in Reigate, Surrey (Reigate Castle) and in Yorkshire (Sandal Castle and Conisbrough Castle). When the last of the Warennes John, the 7th Earl died without issue in 1347, he was buried in Lewes Priory. His title passed to his nephew Richard Fitzalan who was also Earl of Arundel.

The castle has been owned by Sussex Past, an operational name for the Sussex Archaeological Society, since 1846. Tickets are sold from Barbican House which is just opposite the entrance gate, and include access to the Barbican House Museum of Sussex archaeology and the Town Model, both located there. Barbican House also has a gift shop, bookshop and library for members of the archaeological society. Various events take place at the castle, including two plays annually, children's parties and weddings. It is a prominent feature of the town, situated close to the High Street and visible from much of the surrounding residential areas.The castle is currently open to visitors.

Tuesday

Dover Castle

The Gatehouse at Dover Castle
Dover Castle known as ‘The Key to England’ has over 2000 Years of History, from an Iron Age fort, Roman lighthouse and Saxon church to the Castle that is seen today with the massive Great Tower built by Henry II.

Dover Castle is one of the greatest and most famous of European fortresses, its position as a frontier defence ensuring it an important place in British history. Dover Castle strategically sited, guarding the nearest landing point to mainland Europe, made it an emphatic statement of medieval royal power, highly visible across the Straits of Dover. Its unbroken active service as a castle and fortress stretches over more than nine centuries, from the invasion of William the Conqueror to the age of the nuclear missile, from the autumn of 1066 to 1958.

Friday

Dover Castle

Dover Castle

Dover Castle is a medieval castle in the town of the same name in the English county of Kent. It was founded in the 12th century and has been described as the "Key to England" due to its defensive significance throughout history. It is the largest castle in England. Originally the site may have been fortified with earthworks in the Iron Age or earlier, before the Romans invaded in AD43. This is suggested on the basis of the unusual pattern of the earthworks which does not seem to be a perfect fit for the medieval castle, although archaeological excavation at the Castle has found no evidence of prehistoric activity.

After the Battle of Hastings in October 1066, William the Conqueror and his forces marched to Westminster Abbey for his coronation. They took a roundabout route via Romney, Dover, Canterbury, Surrey and Berkshire. From the Cinque Ports foundation in 1050, Dover has always been a chief member—it may also have been this that first attracted William's attention, and got Kent the motto of Invicta. In the words of William of Poitiers: "Then he marched to Dover, which had been reported impregnable and held by a large force. The English, stricken with fear at his approach had confidence neither in their ramparts nor in the numbers of their troops" ... While the inhabitants were preparing to surrender unconditionally, the Normans, greedy for money, set the castle on fire and the great part of it was soon enveloped in flames... William then paid for the repair and having taken possession of the castle, the Duke spent eight days adding new fortifications to it.

Wednesday

The Fortress of Minas Morgul

The Fortress of Minas Morgul
A Fantasy Creation based on reality; A Minor Lair of Evil Southwest of Mordor


Thursday

Fairy Tales May Come True

Fairy Tales May Come True, They Can Happen To You..

On the battlements, blessèd battlements,
Standing on the battlements of immortality;
O the countless multitudes soon our eyes shall see!
Standing on the battlements of immortality.


Battlements (or crenellation) are the parapets of towers or walls with indentations or openings (embrasures or crenelles) alternating with solid projections. Merlons are the saw-tooth effect or the "teeth" of the battlements.

Battle Abbey at Midnight

Battle Abbey at Midnight


On October 14, 1066, a Norman duke known as William the Conqueror defeated King Harold at the Battle of Hastings. This decisive victory brought the Saxon period of English history to an end and initiated the Norman rule of England. The Norman Conquest would bring many changes to the island, including a new French style of Romanesque architecture and many new churches and monasteries all over the country. After the Battle of Hastings, William went on to conquer other important strongholds further north, such as London and York. But in 1070, his attention returned to the battlefield where it all began when, pressured by the Pope, he founded a Benedictine abbey to atone for the thousands of deaths on that field. The new foundation was dedicated to St. Martin, but it has been known almost ever since as Battle Abbey.
Battle Abbey was built right on the battlefield, with the church’s altar positioned over the site where King Harold fell. Constructed in the Norman Romanesque style, with a round apse and ambulatory, the church was completed in 1094. It was consecrated by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the presence of the Conqueror’s son, William Rufus. The abbey was colonized by four Benedictine monks from Marmoutier monastery near Tours, France. Construction on the remaining abbey buildings, such as the dormitory and cloister, continued throughout the 12th and 13th centuries. The church was extended to the east in the 13th century. In the 14th century, French raids during the Hundred Years’ War required the abbey to improve its defenses. This included rebuilding the gatehouse to the towering edifice that still stands today, beginning in 1338. Later in the same century, the abbey was struck by the Black Death. More than a dozen monks succumbed to the plague and the monastery’s incomes suffered. Battle Abbey was dissolved on May 27, 1538, and the property was given to Sir Anthony Browne. The new owner promptly destroyed the church, chapter house and cloisters, and renovated the abbot’s house into a country mansion. In later centuries the property fell into decline, but it was restored by the duke and dutchess of Cleveland, who lived here from 1857 to 1901. Battle Abbey School was founded in the abbot’s house after World War I. Both the battlefield and abbey were purchased by the nation in 1972 and the site is now administered by English Heritage.

Wednesday

The Castle Lion

The Castle Lion
Lions have been represented figuratively since the Stone Age. Ice age hunters depicted the lion this way in the cultural stage of the Aurignacian more than 30,000 years ago by showing the lionesses of a pride hunting in the same manner as contemporary lions. After that it frequently was the lioness who was represented as the protector and chief warrior of a culture. An early Naqada tomb painting that predates Egyptian culture in northern Africa shows two rampant lions flanking a figure that may be interpreted as a deity.
Sphinx of Egyptian pharaoh Hatshepsut - with unusual rounded ears and ruff that extend strong leonine features to the head of the statue, 1503-1482 BC

Lions also play a role in numerous later ancient cultures. In Ancient Egypt the pharaoh sometimes was represented as the sphinx, a lioness with a human head. The best known representation of this type is the Great Sphinx of Giza. From the earliest written human records, the lioness was recognized as the fierce hunter of the formidable species in Ancient Egyptian and African cultures and was dominant in the pantheons of these ancient cultures as representing warriors and protectors of the country. Egyptian mythology featured images of lionesses such as Bast and Sekhmet from their pantheon. Male rulers might be associated with the son of the goddess, such as Maahes. While the Egyptians ruled over Nubia they documented the worship of Dedun as a god of wealth and prosperity, who was said to be the son of the Nubian lioness deity, although they did not incorporate that deity into their own pantheon. The ancient Egyptians also created naturalistic portrayals of lions as symbols of protection and royal power in addition to the images of mythical sphinxes.

In the near east a long line of cultures used the motif of Lions as both a symbol of primal and royal power. The earliest examples come from Sumer in Mesopotamia. This usage continued throughout the later cultures of the Hittites, Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians and early Islamic cultures like the Umayyads and Abbassids.

In antiquity, lions were common along the southern coast of the Mediterranean, as well as in Greece and the Middle East. In Greek mythology a lion appears in a variety of functions. The Lion Gate of Mycenae features two rampant lionesses who flank a central column representing the major deity of this early Greek culture that dates to the second millennium BC. In later classical Greek mythology, the Nemean Lion was portrayed as a people-eating beast; killing it was one of the twelve tasks assigned to Heracles. In the story of Androcles, one of Aesop's fables, the hero, a runaway slave, pulls a thorn from a lion's paw; when he is later thrown to the lions as punishment for escaping, the lion recognizes him once again and refuses to kill the man. According to the Book of Genesis of the Hebrew Bible, the Israelite Tribe of Judah had the Lion of Judah as its symbol.

The characteristic of the lion as the "king of the jungle" goes back to the influence of The Physiologus, an early Christian book about animal symbolism which spread into many cultures and generally had great influence in Western culture. First written in Greek in the second century AD, the book was translated into Latin in about 400 AD, next into Ethiopic and Syriac, then into many European and Middle-Eastern languages. Many illuminated manuscript copies such as the Bern Physiologus survive. It retained its influence over ideas of the "meaning" of animals in Europe for over a thousand years. It was a predecessor of bestiaries (books of beasts). Medieval poetical literature is full of allusions that can be traced to the Physiologus tradition; the text also exerted great influence on the symbolism of medieval ecclesiastical art.
The winged lion of Mark the Evangelist is the national emblem and landmark of Venice

The royal symbolism of the lion was taken up repeatedly in later history, in order to claim power, for example by Henry the Lion. The ongoing fascination is apparent today by the diversity of coats of arms on which lions are shown in various colours and forms.

Many images from ancient times depict lionesses as the fierce warrior protecting their culture. Since in certain views lionesses seem to have a ruff, often the only clue to this difference between the genders is the lack of a massive mane. When no mane is apparent, the image often is described as a panther or leopard among cultures without familiarity with the nature of lion social organization and hunting strategies for prides. In literary and historical references, note of a figure or an image as depicting a lion may relate to either gender without being specific, and be easily misunderstood, thereby then being drawn with a mane since it is so distinctive.

Images of lions appears on many flags, coats of arms, and emblems. For example, it symbolises the Sinhalese people (Sinhalese Singha = Lion). Local folklore tells of Prince Vijaya, the first of the Sinhalese kings, as being the son of Sinhabahu, who was fathered by a lion. See history of Sri Lanka. Lions are recurring symbols in the coat of arms of royalty and chivalry, particularly in the UK, where the lion is also a national symbol of the British people, and in Ethiopia, where it is a symbol of the Monarchy.

Monday

The Castle Cemetery

The Old Crypt at The Castle Cemetery
The castle cemetery is a classic upright stone burial ground with many large crypts that house the remains of the rich elite from the castle's past. When you enter the grounds you are amazed at the age and detail of many of the gravestones and crypts. However one crypt stands out above them all.
There is no name inscribed upon the top beam like all of the other crypts, and it is darkened as if it had been exposed to fire. The legends are sketchy and vary depending on who you talk to. But the basics of the crypt legends go like this. Inside the crypt lies an undead body of a real honest to goodness blood sucking creature of the night. He was a wealthy man who fell ill after a trip to Romania and soon after returning to the castle he died of consumption. He was buried in the crypt on the southern hillside of the Cemetery, and within a week strange things began to happen. Dead bodies would be found in the grounds that surrounded the graveyard. Their blood had been drained and there were the classic teeth marks on the neck. It was the maintenance man who lived on the grounds who found out the evil creatures secret and the attacked and burned the crypt during the daylight to rid the castle of this evil abomination. The family name was scraped from the tomb stonework as a warning to all who came near. Its doors were chained and locked shut never to be opened again. But look! The door is open and a shadowy figure moves within.....................

Sunday

Bridge to Arundel

Bridge to Arundel
There are several theories about the meaning of the name 'Arundel'. One is that the upper reaches of the Arun, away from the sea, was once known as the Arnus, from the Brythonic word Arno, meaning run or go. So Arundel would mean Arno-dell or the dell of the flowing river. Another theory is that due to the preponderance of hoarhound on the slopes of the Arun near the town, Arundel would mean hoarhound-dell. A third explanation is that the town takes its name from the French word for swallow, hirondelle, a bird which is on the town's crest. The name was spelled Arundell until 1733, when the final l was dropped. A new theory (Theo Vennemann) relates the 'Arun' part to Basque aran 'valley' (substratic reduplication or tautology), like the placename Arendal in Norway and Sweden. However, it seems rather more likely that the Scandinavian placenames derive from Old Norse arnardalr 'eagle dell' or arindalr 'dwelling dell'. Similarly, the name of Arundel could just as well derive from Old English earndæl or ærndæl, meaning 'eagle dell' and 'dwelling dell' respectively

Saturday

Moonlight on the Chapel Ruins

Moonlight on the Chapel Ruins
Corfe Castle is a village and a parish in Dorset whose skyline is dominated by the skeletal remains of Corfe Castle, which is the essence of the village. The civil parish faces both the English Channel and Poole Harbour, which includes part of the sandy heathland to the north of the castle, and the Jurassic Coast to the South.

There is evidence in the village of a civilization that existed in 6000 BC; as well as Celtic habitation circa 1300 BC; and of course, the Romans circa AD 50. There is a legend which Tomas Hardy recorded concerning the disappearance of an entire Roman legion, with of course, only its ghost remaining; leading to the conclusion that a massive battle must have taken place between the Celts and the Romans which later resulted in the demise of the Celts. Early in the fifth century, after the Romans left, the Vikings and the Saxons occupied this area until AD 1090 when the Norman Conquest occurred. Today, as you leave Corfe Castle towards Church Knowle village, you may want to stop at Cromwell's Battery, also known as The Rings. This fortification, or Battery, was a ring and bailey castle. The higher, inner ring was a stronghold. The bailey was the storage and working area surrounded by fences. The rings are believed to be the site of a siege castle built by King Stephen in 1139 AD in an unsuccessful attempt to regain control of Corfe Castle when he claimed the throne form the House of Blois and Civil War ensued.

Friday

Leeds Castle Gate House


Leeds Castle Gate House
Leeds Castle consists of two huge piles of buildings which with a strong gate-house and barbican form four distinct forts, capable of separate defence should any one or other fall into the hands of an enemy. Three causeways, each with its drawbridge, gate, and portcullis, lead to the smallest island or inner barbican, a fortified mill contributing to the defences. A stone bridge connects this island with the main island. There stands the Constable's Tower, and a stone wall surrounds the island and within is the modern mansion. The Maiden's Tower and the Water Tower defend the island on the south. A two-storeyed building on arches now connects the main island with the Tower of the Gloriette, which has a curious old bell with the Virgin and Child, St. George and the Dragon, and the Crucifixion depicted on it, and an ancient clock.

The Smuggler's Den

The Smuggler's Den
Hold it there laddie. There's luggers hoverin' at the Cove and the gobblers are out.... A Stinkibus is better than a noose I says. Us smugsmiths need to know that much to save our skin.... Look quick laddie! There's a cutter behind! Row for your life or it's the devil for both of us!"

Smugglers, also known as owlers, free traders and smugsmiths, were the scourge of the coastline 300 years ago. Matters got way out of hand in the 18th Century, when taxes were upped in a bid to fund foreign wars. Corruption cropped up on both sides of the law, with all kinds of chicanery resulting. Pitched battles became common scenes on the English coast, and conscientious officers often faced insuperable odds, with country folk closing ranks to protect the 'smugsmiths'. As it was, entire villages often became involved in the trade - the folk from the Scilly Isles nigh on depended on it. However, there were times when gangs went too far even for their own men. Whilst some smugglers might claim that they were just trying to make a living within the spirit of free trade, contraband goods attracted their fair share of rogues and rascals too

Thursday

At Camp By Warwick Castle

At Camp By Warwick Castle
The reign of Edward III saw the great Chivalric Age and Warwick was the scene of many tournaments, feasts, banquets and processions. History also saw the start of the Hundred Years War between England and France. Thomas de Beauchamp, 11th Earl of Warwick, commanded troops at the battle of Crecy and Poitiers. The glorious Age of Chivalry was also marred by the Black Death and the Peasants Revolt (the first of all revolutions). Richard de Beauchamp, the 13th Earl of Warwick, served in France as Captain of Calais and supervised the trial of Joan of Arc.

Richard Neville, the 16th Earl of Warwick, was a Yorkist, and when he helped Edward IV the son of the Duke of York, to become king he became very powerful. He then argued with the King and was branded a traitor. Warwick then changes allegiances and turns Lancastrian when he defeats Edward IV and restores Henry VI to power! He is given the name 'Warwick the Kingmaker'. Warwick the Kingmaker loses his life at the Battle of Barnet when Edward IV defeats and kills him. The following Earls of Warwick are branded as traitors and executed, temporarily ending the title of the Earl of Warwick...

Richard III took ownership of Warwick Castle until he fell in the Battle of Bosworth Field to Henry Tudor. The Tudor Kings also keep Warwick Castle to themselves ensuring the power and influence of the nobility is contained!

The History of Warwick castle enters another period of murder, executions, treachery and intrigue starting with the short reign of King Henry VIII's son Edward V. John Dudley is created the Earl of Warwick, Chancellor of England and Duke of Northumberland which makes him the most powerful noble in England. The young King was sick and Dudley realises that if the King dies, and either of his sisters take the crown, that Dudley will lose his power and probably his head. John Dudley plots with the Earl of Suffolk and arranges the marriage of his son, Guildford Dudley, to the Suffolk's daughter, Lady Jane Grey. The young king dies and Lady Jane Grey, John Dudley's daughter-in-law is pronounced Queen of England. She only reigns for nine days and the rightful Queen Mary takes the crown. The powerful John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, was beheaded for treason. The earldom of Warwick is granted to the Rich family but Warwick Castle is passed to Sir Fulke Greville. A poet and courtier Sir Fulke Greville was murdered and his ghost is said to haunt Warwick Castle.

Medieval School Gate

Medieval School Gate
Medieval Education in England was the preserve of the rich. Education in Medieval England had to be paid for and medieval peasants could not have hoped to have afforded the fees. When William I conquered England in 1066 at the Battle of Hastings, he took over a country where very few were educated – including the wealthy. The most educated people were those who worked in the church but many who worked in the monasteries had taken a vow of isolation and their work remained isolated with them.

As Medieval England developed so did the need for a more educated population  - especially in the developing world of merchant trade. Important trading towns set up what became known as grammar schools and it was not unusual for a wealthy local merchant to have funded such a school. Latin grammar formed a major part of the daily curriculum – hence the title of the schools. Latin was also the language used by merchants as they traded in Europe. Very few Dutch merchants spoke English – but they could speak Latin. Very few English merchants spoke Dutch or Spanish, but they could speak Latin. Hence why European merchants used the language. Any merchant who wished to trade in Europe effectively could not have hoped to have done so without knowledge of Latin. These merchants ensured the survival of their firms by ensuring that their sons were equally conversant in the language – hence the establishment of grammar schools.

All lessons taught in a grammar school were in Latin. Lessons were taught in a way that boys had to learn information off by heart. Whether they understood what they had learned was a separate issue! Books were extremely expensive in Medieval England and no school could hope to kit out their pupils with books.

By 1500, many large towns had a grammar school. One of the oldest was in the important market town of Maidstone in Kent. Schools then were very small. Many had just one room for all the boys and one teacher who invariably had a religious background. The teacher would teach the older boys who were then responsible for teaching the younger ones.

Lessons frequently started at sunrise and finished at sunset. This meant that in the spring/summer months, school could last for many hours. The opposite was true for the winter. Discipline was very strict. Mistakes in lessons were punished with the birch (or the threat of it) In theory pupils would never make the same mistake again after being birched, as the memory of the pain inflicted was too strong.

For those who excelled at a grammar school, university beckoned. Medieval England saw the founding of both Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Both universities were renowned seats of learning – though both universities had a reputation for exuberant student behaviour at this time.

The sons of the peasants could only be educated if the lord of the manor had given his permission. Any family caught having a son educated without permission was heavily fined. Historians today feel that this policy was simply an extension of those in authority trying to keep peasants in their place, as an educated peasant/villein might prove to be a threat to his master as he might start to question the way things were done.

Very few girls went to what could be describes as a school. Girls from noble families were taught at home or in the house of another nobleman. Some girls from rich families went abroad to be educated. Regardless of where they went, the basis of their education was the same – how to keep a household going so that their husband was well kept. Girls might learn to play a musical instrument and to sing. But the philosophy of their education remained the same – how to keep a successful household for your husband.

Wednesday

The Keep at Corfe Castle

The Keep at Corfe Castle
Corfe Castle has dominated the skyline of the Isle of Purbeck for the past thousand years. From its inception, it was designed to protect from invasion from the coast, with its passage through the Purbeck Hills from Swanage to Wareham. Corfe Castle was a ring and bailey castle built in early Norman times during the era of William the Conqueror. Prior to the Normans, there was a fortification on this site, and there may have been a Roman military presence here as well. William the Conqueror rebuilt the fortification with stone to insure its durability for use as a royal fortress. (Purbeck Stone is considered the finest limestone in England). In the 13th century King John improved the castle defences and also erected a hall, a chapel and some domestic buildings. Following that, Henry III had additional walls, towers and gatehouses constructed.

Ironically, although fortified to be impregnable, the skeletal ruins that stand today were destroyed from within. This fascinating ruin, which attracts millions of visitors, was caused by a "turncoat" during the civil war, who gave entry into the castle from the inside, thereby allowing Cromwell's army to enter the castle to destroy everything in their path. Today, the skeletal remains reveal evidence of a stronghold that predated the Norman Conquest, and the site of the assassination of Edward the Martyr in March 978. The surviving structure of the later castle dates to the 11th century.

Cromwell's army fought the most remarkable Lady Bankes, a Royalist, who cared for the castle while her husband, Sir John was called away by Charles I, earning her the name "Brave Dame Mary" as well as the respect of the Parliamentary commander; who was so impressed with her courage that he allowed her to leave the castle with her garrison and the keys to the castle once the Roundheads finally persuaded her to surrender.

Door to The Monastery Garden

Door to The Monastery Garden
St Benedict, the founder of the Benedictine monastic order, more than any man, inspired the cloister life of the sixth century in Western Europe. He at once ordered that “ all the necessaries “ for the support of monks should be supplied within the walls, and among these “necessaries” water and gardens stood in the first rank: of course these gardens were for herbs and vegetables. We can only guess how far the establishments founded by St. Benedict himself, and especially the mother-cloister, were able to comply with his demands. The mention of a tower, and a portico, where St. Benedict lived with his pupils, makes us think of pictures of a Roman villa; but in any case the Benedictines, whose rule enjoined work in the garden, were the men who handed down the practice of horticulture right through the Middle Ages.

Those Orders which were not influenced by the Benedictine Rule, and forbade the monks to do farm work, still seem to have thought a garden indispensable. The Spaniard Isidorus in his Rule makes a special point of having a garden within the cloister, attached to the wall and entered by the back door, so that the monks should be able to work there and not have occasion to go outside. There was a certain tradition in the old Roman provinces about the cultivation of the choicer kinds of fruit, and it is hard to say how long it survived the storms of the Middle Ages, whether the monks are to be connected with this tradition, or if they started afresh on their own account, as is doubtless what did actually happen in the case of the German nations farther east. It is well worth noting that in Norway even to this day none but the finest and choicest fruit-trees are found on the site of an old monastery.

Arundel Castle

Arundel Castle


Arundel Castle in Arundel, West Sussex, England is a restored medieval castle. It was founded by Roger de Montgomery on Christmas Day 1067. Roger became the first to hold the earldom of Arundel by the graces of William the Conqueror. The castle was damaged in the English Civil War and then restored in the 18th and 19th centuries. From the 11th century onward, the castle has served as a hereditary stately home and has been in the family of the Duke of Norfolk for over 400 years. It is still the principal seat of the Norfolk family.

Arundel Seen Through A Country Glade

Arundel Seen Through A Country Glade


Apart from the occasional reversion to the Crown, Arundel Castle has descended directly from 1138 to the present day, carried by female heiresses from the d'Albinis to the Fitzalans in the 13th century and then from the Fitzalans to the Howards in the 16th century and it has been the seat of the Dukes of Norfolk and their ancestors for over 850 years. From the 15th to the 17th centuries the Howards were at the forefront of English history, from the Wars of the Roses, through the Tudor period to the Civil War. Among the famous members of the Howard family are the 2nd Duke of Norfolk (1443-1524), the victor of Flodden, Lord Howard of Effingham, who with Sir Francis Drake repelled the Armada in 1588, the Earl of Surrey, the Tudor poet and courtier, and the 3rd Duke of Norfolk (1473-1554), uncle of Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, both of whom became wives of King Henry VIII (1491-1547).

Tuesday

The Bridge across the Moat at Leeds Castle

The Bridge across the Moat at Leeds Castle
The first building on the site was a Saxon manor which was replaced in 1119 by Robert de Crevecoer. In 1278 the castle was transformed in to royal palace for King Edward I when a barbican with drawbridge, gateway and portcullis was added.

During the rein of Henry VIII the castle was again transformed for his first wife Catherine of Aragon and was the place where his daughter, Elizabeth I was imprisoned before being made Queen.

The Culpeper family were resident in the castle at the time of the Civil War and because they were parliamentarian sympathizers the castle did not sustain any damage.

Set in 500 acres of parkland and beautiful gardens the renovated castle is accessed via a stone bridge across a moat. The site comprises of a medieval gatehouse, a Tudor tower, an elevated French gloriette or garden building and a two storey 19th century house extending out into the moat at the rear.

The Fort on the Hilltop at Devil's Dyke

The Fort on the Hilltop at Devil's Dyke
The Devil was angry at the conversion of Sussex, one of the last counties to be converted from Paganism, and especially at the way churches were being built in every Sussex village. So he decided to dig right through the South Downs, a range of hills along the south of Britain. He swore that he would dig all the way through the hills to let the sea flood Sussex in a single night and drown the new Christians. He started inland near the village of Poynings and dug furiously sending huge clods of earth everywhere. One became Chanctonbury hill, another Cissbury hill, another Rackham Hill and yet another Mount Caburn.

Towards midnight, the noise he was making disturbed an old woman, who looked out to see what was happening. When she realized what the Devil was doing, she lit a candle and set it on her windowsill, holding up a metal sieve in front of it to create a dimly glowing globe. The Devil could barely believe that the sun had already risen, but the old woman had woken her rooster who let out a loud crowing and Satan fled believing that the morning had already come. Some say, that as he fled out over the English Channel, a great lump of earth fell from his cloven hoof, and that became the Isle of Wight; others say that he bounded northwards into Surrey, where his heavy landing formed the hollow called the Devil's Punch Bowl.

Devil's Dyke is a V-shaped valley on the South Downs Way in southern England, near Brighton and Hove. It is part of the Southern England Chalk Formation. Devil's Dyke is on the way to Brighton and is a big hill at the side of the road. It is a misconception common amongst local residents of Brighton that the valley was formed by some kind of glacial action, the myth of a 'glacier' being a misunderstanding of accounts such as this one from the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Timothy Carder (1990):
 "In reality the 300-foot-deep valley was carved by tremendous amounts of water running off the Downs during the last Ice Age when large amounts of snow thawed and the frozen chalk prevented any further absorption; erosion was aided by the freeze-thaw cycle and the valley was deepened by the 'sludging' of the saturated chalk."
The Devil's Dyke V-shaped dry valley is the result of solifluction and river erosion. More than fourteen thousand years ago, the area experienced an intensely cold climate (but not glacial conditions). Snowfields capped the South Downs. Permafrost conditions meant that the chalk was permanently frozen. In summer, the snowfields melted and saturated the top layer of soil, because the water could not permeate the frozen chalk underneath. Waterlogged material situated above the permafrost slid down the gradient, removing material by friction, exposing deeper layers of frozen chalk. When the Ice Age ended, the snowfields covering the South Downs melted, and rivers formed across Sussex. The Devil's Dyke valley was completed by one such river.
The hills surrounding the valley offer views of the South Downs, The Weald, and – on a clear day – the Isle of Wight. It is the site of ramparts, all that remain of an Iron Age hillfort.

Warwick Castle on the Avon

Warwick Castle on the Avon

 Avon is an anglicisation of the Welsh word 'afon' for river. So "River Avon" literally means "River River"!

As there are other River Avons in England, the river that passes through Warwickshire is known as the Avon, Warwickshire Avon or Shakespeare's Avon.
  
The source of the Avon is near the village of Welford in Northamptonshire, it then flows 85 miles in a south-westerly direction until it joins the River Severn at Tewkesbury. It has a catchment area of 1,032 square miles. The river passes through many towns and villages which have developed along its banks, these include Welford, Rugby, Wolston, Leamington Spa, Warwick, Stratford-upon-Avon, Welford-on-Avon, Bidford-on-Avon, Evesham, Pershore, and finally Tewkesbury. Along its course the river forms part of the border between Northamptonshire and Leicestershire, and it has been dammed to create the Stanford Reservoir. Its tributaries include the Rivers Leam, Stour, Sowe, Dene, Arrow, Swift, Alne, Isbourne, Sherbourne and Swilgate as well as many minor streams and brooks.
  
Enjoying the river - throughout Warwickshire there are many places where you can enjoy the beauty of the River Avon, be this by rowing boat, canal boat or simply a walk along its banks.


Monday

In the Village at Arundel

In the Village at Arundel
Arundel is a market town and civil parish in the South Downs of West Sussex in the south of England. It lies 49 miles (79 km) south southwest of London, 18 miles (29 km) west of Brighton, and 10 miles (16 km) east of the county town of Chichester. Other nearby towns include Worthing east southeast, Littlehampton to the south and Bognor Regis to the southwest. The River Arun runs through the western side of the town.

Arundel was one of the boroughs reformed by the Municipal Reform Act 1835. In 1974 it became part of the Arun district, and now is a civil parish with a town council.
Arundel is home to Arundel Cathedral, seat of the Bishop of Arundel and Brighton. The town also has its own cricket ground at the castle, often cited as being one of the country's most picturesque. It hosts Sussex County Cricket Club for a number of games each season and is also the venue for the traditional season curtain-raiser between Lavinia Duchess of Norfolk's XI and the champion county. Every summer it hosts the touring country.

On 6 July 2004, Arundel was granted Fairtrade Town status.

People born in Arundel are known locally as Mullets, due to the presence of Mullet in the River Arun.

Arundel is home to one of the oldest Scout Groups in the world. 1st Arundel (Earl of Arundel's Own) Scout Group was formed in 1908 only a few weeks after Scouting began. Based in its current HQ in Green Lane Close, it has active sections of Beaver Scouts, Cub Scouts and Scouts.

A Cathedral Wall Plaque

Cathedral Wall Plaque
Gothic art evolved from Romanesque art and lasted from the mid-12th century to as late as the end of the 16th century in some areas. The term Gothic was coined by classicizing Italian writers of the Renaissance, who attributed the invention (and what to them was the non-classical ugliness) of medieval architecture to the barbarian Gothic tribes that had destroyed the Roman Empire and its classical culture in the 5th century Ad. The term retained its derogatory overtones until the 19th century, at which time a positive critical revaluation of Gothic architecture took place. Although modern scholars have long realized that Gothic art has nothing in truth to do with the Goths, the term Gothic remains a standard one in the study of art history.
Gothic sculpture was closely tied to architecture, since it was used primarily to decorate the exteriors of cathedrals and other religious buildings. The earliest Gothic sculptures were stone figures of saints and the Holy Family used to decorate the doorways, or portals, of cathedrals in France and elsewhere. The sculptures on the Royal Portal of Chartres Cathedral (c. 1145-55) were little changed from their Romanesque predecessors in their stiff, straight, simple, elongated, and hieratic forms. But during the later 12th and the early 13th centuries sculptures became more relaxed and naturalistic in treatment, a trend that culminated in the sculptural decorations of the Reims Cathedral (c. 1240). These figures, while retaining the dignity and monumentality of their predecessors, have individualized faces and figures, as well as full, flowing draperies and natural poses and gestures, and they display a classical poise that suggests an awareness of antique Roman models on the part of their creators. Early Gothic masons also began to observe such natural forms as plants more closely, as is evident in the realistically carven clusters of leaves that adorn the capitals of columns.
Monumental sculptures assumed an increasingly prominent role during the High and late Gothic periods and were placed in large numbers on the facades of cathedrals, often in their own niches. In the 14th century, Gothic sculpture became more refined and elegant and acquired a mannered daintiness in its elaborate and finicky drapery. The elegant and somewhat artificial prettiness of this style was widely disseminated throughout Europe in sculpture, painting, and manuscript illumination during the 14th century and became known as the International Gothic style. An opposite trend at this time was that of an intensified realism, as displayed in French tomb sculptures and in the vigorous and dramatic works of the foremost late Gothic sculptor, Claus Sluter. Gothic sculpture evolved into the more technically advanced and classicistic Renaissance style in Italy during the 14th and early 15th centuries but persisted until somewhat later in northern Europe.
Gothic painting followed the same stylistic evolution as did sculpture; from stiff, simple, hieratic forms toward more relaxed and natural ones. Its scale grew large only in the early 14th century, when it began to be used in decorating the retable (ornamental panel behind an altar). Such paintings usually featured scenes and figures from the New Testament, particularly of the Passion of Christ and the Virgin Mary. These paintings display an emphasis on flowing, curving lines, minute detail, and refined decoration, and gold was often applied to the panel as background colour. Compositions became more complex as time went on, and painters began to seek means of depicting spatial depth in their pictures, a search that eventually led to the mastery of perspective in the early years of the Italian Renaissance. In late Gothic painting of the 14th and 15th centuries secular subjects such as hunting scenes, chivalric themes, and depictions of historical events also appeared. Both religious and secular subjects were depicted in manuscript illuminations--i.e., the pictorial embellishment of handwritten books. This was a major form of artistic production during the Gothic period and reached its peak in France during the 14th century. The calendar illustrations in the Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry (c. 1416) by the Limburg brothers, who worked at the court of Jean de France, duc de Berry, are perhaps the most eloquent statements of the International Gothic style as well as the best known of all manuscript illuminations


On Gargoyles, 1909 — G. K. Chesterton,
“Alone at some distance from the wasting walls of a disused abbey I found half sunken in the grass the grey and goggle-eyed visage of one of those graven monsters that made the ornamental water-spouts in the cathedrals of the Middle Ages. It lay there, scoured by ancient rains or striped by recent fungus, but still looking like the head of some huge dragon slain by a primeval hero. And as I looked at it, I thought of the meaning of the grotesque, and passed into some symbolic reverie of the three great stages of art.
The Old Greeks summoned godlike things to worship their god. The medieval Christians summoned all things to worship theirs, dwarfs and pelicans, monkeys and madmen. The modern realists summon all these million creatures to worship their god; and then have no god for them to worship. Paganism was in art a pure beauty; that was the dawn. Christianity was a beauty created by controlling a million monsters of ugliness; and that in my belief was the zenith and the noon. Modern art and science practically mean having the million monsters and being unable to control them; and I will venture to call that the disruption and the decay.”

Starlings Gather on the Ancient Spire

Starlings Gather on the Ancient Spire

A spire is a tapering conical or pyramidal structure on the top of a building, particularly a church tower. Etymologically, the word is derived from the Old English word spir, meaning a sprout, shoot, or stalk of grass.
Symbolically, spires have two functions. The first is to proclaim a martial power. A spire, with its reminiscence of the spear point, gives the impression of strength. The second is to reach up toward the skies.[citation needed] The celestial and hopeful gesture of the spire is one reason for its association with religious buildings.[citation needed] A spire on a church or cathedral is not just a symbol of piety, but is often seen as a symbol of the wealth and prestige of the order, or patron who commissioned the building. As an architectural ornament, spires are most consistently found on Christian churches, where they replace the steeple. Although any denomination may choose to use a spire instead of a steeple, the lack of a cross on the structure is more common in Roman Catholic and other pre-Reformation churches. The battlements of cathedrals featured multiple spires in the Gothic style (in imitation of the secular military fortress).


Starlings in the New World: The year was 1890 when an eccentric drug manufacturer named Eugene Schieffelin entered New York City's Central Park and released some 60 European starlings he had imported from England. In 1891 he loosed 40 more. Schieffelin's motives were as romantic as they were ill fated: he hoped to introduce into North America every bird mentioned by Shakespeare.Skylarks and song thrushes failed to thrive, but the enormity of his success with starlings continues to haunt us. This is worth observing as an object lesson in how even noble intentions can lead to disaster when humanity meddles with nature.
Today the starling is ubiquitous, with its purple and green iridescent plumage and its rasping, insistent call. It has distinguished itself as one of the costliest and most noxious birds on our continent.
Roosting in hordes of up to a million, starlings can devour vast stores of seed and fruit, offsetting whatever benefit they confer by eating insects. In a single day, a cloud of omnivorous starlings can gobble up 20 tons of potatoes. What they don't eat they defile with droppings. They are linked to numerous diseases, including histoplasmosis, a fungal lung ailment that afflicts agricultural workers; toxoplasmosis, especially dangerous to pregnant women, and Newcastle disease, which kills poultry. Starlings bully several native species, often rudely evicting bluebirds and woodpeckers.
In 1960 a Lockheed Electra plummeted seconds after taking off from Logan Airport in Boston, killing 62 people. Some 10,000 starlings had flown straight into the plane, crippling its engines. Any bird in the wrong place can pose such a danger, but it is the ever-present starling that pilots fret over the most.
As usual in the history of man's importation of species across oceans and continents, Schieffelin was not thinking of long-term consequences. For the first six years after he released his birds they rarely strayed beyond Manhattan. The first nesting pair, discovered in the eaves of the Museum of Natural History, across the street from Central Park, inspired jubilation.
Once the starlings began to spread, though, their numbers and range soon exploded. They were able to adapt to climates as varied as Alaska's and Florida's; they were willing and able to eat anything; and they reproduced with startling vigor. ''Starlings,'' one ornithologist wrote, ''do nothing in moderation.''

The Ancient God Pan Plays His Pipes In The Castle Garden

The Ancient Nature God Pan Plays His Pipes In The Castle Garden
PAN is the god of shepherds and flocks, of mountain wilds, hunting and rustic music. He wanders the hills and mountains of Arkadia playing his pan-pipes and chasing Nymphs. His unseen presence arouses feelings of panic in men passing through the remote, lonely places of the wilds.

The god is a lover of nymphs, who commonly flee from his advances. Syrinx ran and was transformed into a clump of reeds, out of which the god crafted his famous pan-pipes. Pitys escaped and was turned into a mountain fir, the god's sacred tree. Ekho spurned his advances and fading away left behind only her voice to repeat forever the mountain cries of the god.

Pan is depicted as a man with the horns, legs and tail of a goat, and with thick beard, snub nose and pointed ears. He often appears in the retinue of Dionysos alongside the other rustic gods. Greeks in the classical age associated his name with the word pan meaning "all". However, it true origin lies in an old Arkadian word for rustic.

Pan is frequently identified with other similar rustic gods such as Aristaios, the shepherd-god of northern Greece, who like Pan was titled both Agreus (the hunter) and Nomios (the shepherd); as well as with the pipe-playing Phrygian satyr Marsyas; and Aigipan, the goat-fish god of the constellation Capricorn. Sometimes Pan was multiplied into a host of Panes, or a triad named Agreus, Nomios, and Phorbas.

Sunday

A Lookout Point

A Lookout Point
One of many hilltop sites (this one nested within the South Downs in Sussex) where large beacon fires could be lit at the first sign of invading ships crossing the channel. These beacons were easily spied from castle towers many miles away and the signals could be relayed across the country so that reinforcements could be amassed and sent to destroy the invaders before they reached populated areas.


This stunning hilltop area has been a home to man for thousands of years. On top of the hill are burial mounds dating back to the Bronze and Saxon ages.

Wildlife has also made its home here and Blackcap is a great place to come and see the plants and animals that populate the area. Flowers such as the musk orchid, yellow rockrose, marjoram and honeysuckle can all be seen here, along with countless other plant species all of which support a huge range of insect, bird and mammal life.

The South Downs are characterised by rolling chalk downs, deep dry valleys, steep scarp slopes with wide views over wooded farmland of the Sussex Weald and glimpses of shimmering sea. The area has been inhabited by man since earliest times, as shown by hill-forts, tumuli and cross-dykes, while the South Downs Way itself was probably an important trade route in the Bronze Age.

The well-loved open chalk landscape, with its variety of wild flowers and butterflies, is a result of sheep and cattle grazing over the centuries.

The woodland here is equally varied. Coppiced hazel fringes the paths and the diversity of trees in Aschombe Bottom means a dazzling display of autumnal colours. Look out for the attractive buckthorn tree with its yellow autumnal leaves and dark purple-black berries.