Saturday, 22 February 2014

Castles & Forts

The UK is scattered with the remains old castles and forts, just look at an Ordnance Survey map and you will see them marked up.  Many when you see them are just  pile of earth others are recognizable. In this blog I will show some of the ones that I visited.

 I will start with a hill fort which is not far from where I live, Wittenham Clumps, this is an Iron Age hill fort and if you walk round it you can see the surrounding ditch that was part of the defense. The hill is called Castle Hill now but dominated the surrounding area.
Not far away is another fort like this only without the ditch.

This is called Blewburton Hill and on the OS map it is marked Fort, it also has terracing.

Nearby in a village called South Moreton you can find a mound behind the church which looks like an old Motte & Bailey

 Not so far away you can see what was probably a siege castle though you can see the remains better when you pass by on the train

The castle was most likely  used for siege of Wallingford Castle which is the next one I will show

 It was built sometime after 1086. It was used regularly by Royalty untill the town was hit buy the black death when it declined  and some of the castle was demolished for the stone to be used on Winsor Castle. After the Royalists held out for 65 days in the civil war Cromwell ordered  it destroyed
There is not much let to see of the old castle though some walls do remain

Some of the stone was used on the tower of St Mary-Le-More 
in the town.
Walking over castle meadows you can see the dips and mounds from where the walls and moats were.

Looking round the site shows the place was large indeed.
All these castles and forts you have just seen are within about 5 miles of where I live.


The next few I will show are in Wales, the first is  Tretower Castle

Which also has a small museum that you have to pay to get in, not sure it  was open when I visited  but from the photos I have seen it is worth a visit if your passing.

A little way  over the Welsh boarder along the A44 you come to New Radnor where you can see a castle mound above the trees.

Nice view from the top

The ditch between the mounds

Along the A44 after New Rador you can see Tomen Castle  

And further along Castell Crugerydd

If you turn left towards Builth Wells after Tomen Castle you will come to Hundred House and you can see this mound that looks like it may have been a fort at some time.

A  short distance away is Colwyn castle

Its owned by Fforest Farm so ask if you want to look round the site

You can make out the out like of the old Norman castle and you can see a moat.

I you visit the Fforest field campsite down the road you can see a Motte & Bailey

Nearer Builth Wells you visit Aberedw castle

A lot of the ruined walls are there and you can see a lot of the outline
though a lot of one side was robbed when the old railway was run past the place

Finally on this blog we come to Builth Castle which would have dominated  the river crossing of the Wye nearby

 Only mounds and ditches can be seen now

Though you do get a good view from the top.

Those are a few of the Castles I have visited on my travels round the UK there are many more you can see some that are in better condition and others little more that what I have shown. Next time you go for a walk look at the Ordnance Survey map of the area and see if you can find any castles to visit

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Insurance Fire Plaques

The other day while walking round Thame in Oxforshire my wife pointed out a plaque on a wall she thought was a date for the house. I explained it was an Insurance Fire Mark which were quite common on houses back in the 17th century and indicated that the house would be safe in the event of a fire, safe that is if you were up todate with your insurance the company fire brigade would extinguish it for you. Mind you only if they got there in time. I thought that the marks would be a good idea for a blog so I'll show a few of the ones I have come across

 The first time I came across them was while walking round a village called Blewbury which is just off the downs in what was Berkshire

  Along the London road I noticed this mark high up on a cottage wall.

The next time I was in the Village I spotted this one which was a different type

Then a round the corner along a road called Nottingham Fee a familiar one high on the wall of a house.

I noticed this one was in a village called Drayton just off the green. I stopped to take a photo of this mark only to be asked by a neighbor what I was doing and could they help. Nothing wrong in looking out for next door is there. I told them and they said look along the Causeway there are a number of houses with them.

They were right about that, and all of them different

Looks like it was painted over at one point

You can just make this one out forming part of the decoration at the bottom

 The next two were on the same house  I don't think they are on the original house and most likely put on as decoration

One was used as a house name
It was called Phoenix House along the Bromyard Road in Worcester

This cottage in Thame has mark on it

which I might add this is one I have not seen before.

 I will leave you with this one I saw in Drayton which was still painted. Hope you have enjoyed the ones I have shown though I could not say if the markers are on the original building, some clearly look like that are others have been moved. If you walk around an old part of a town or village in the UK and spot a marker like I have shown then you know what it is.