Medieval Castles of England, by Mike Salter
Medieval Castles of England, by Mike Salter
Medieval Castles of England, by Mike Salter
Medieval Castles of England, by Mike Salter
Medieval Castles of England, by Mike Salter

Medieval Castles of England, by Mike Salter

£23.99
Medieval Castles of England, by Mike Salter
Book published by Folly Publications in 2020, 244 pages. Paperback - c.15cm by 22cm (N7900X1)
Brand New Book


This book provides a fascinating account of the castles of medieval England, and is illustrated throughout with lots of small colour photographs and floor plans (Throughour almost all of the book, the left hand page is text and the right hand page is photographs and floorplans)

From the foreword: This book was inspired by the author's previous publication Medieval Castles of France and the intention is that eventually there may be titles on similar lines for Scotland and Wales. The concept behind Medieval Castles of France of just including castles regularly opened to the public amongst the gazetteer entries and dealing with less publically accessible or more ruinous buildings in the introductory sections is repeated here. These books thus serve to guide a tourist as to not only what is out there that is photogenic and interesting from both historical and architectural perspectives, but also fully accessible to visitors. In this book the opportunity has also been taken to re­ examine several previously-held concepts, particularly that of great towers not being fashionable after the late 12th century, and to reassess the possible dates of certain structures such as the keep at Kenilworth and the inner ward at Skipton.

The scales used for line drawings in Medieval Castles of France are also employed here, which allows many useful comparisons. These scales are: 1 :4000 for plans of very large sites such as Windsor, 1 :2000 for plans of the majority of sites, 1 :500 for plans and cross-sections of specific parts of castles such as keeps, gatehouses, chapels and halls. An additional scale of 1: 1000 is used here for a page of plans of shell keeps and associated structures, this being a type mostly only found in the British Isles.

In the past there has been a tendency to describe castles as if they conformed to a particular style, having been started afresh on previously unoccupied sites, and then in a few years completed sufficiently to be both defensible and habitable. There has also been an inclination in popular tourist guides to mention a castle as being of a particular century. Both these are rather misleading. In reality there are very few English castles which are essentially the work of a single uninterrupted building campaign lasting say ten to fifteen years or less, without significant alterations or additions of later medieval or subsequent periods, and still sufficiently complete to give a clear idea of what the designer and patron achieved or intended. In fact it could be argued that only the cas­tles of Barnwell, Bodiam and Bolton nearly conform to this ideal (Barn well having been handed over to the church not long after it was completed c1270).

In practice the vast majority of castles enclosed with stone curtain walls from the 12th century onwards were developed on sites originally fortified with late 11th or early 12th century earthworks and palisades, or which had been the sites of unfortified manor houses, the buildings of which had to be cleared away first. Also the enclosing of large areas with thick and high walls with towers and gateways of stone, and the creation of numerous stone-walled buildings within those defences usually required more resources than were available within the span of one building campaign. Thus the typical English castle (if such a thing could really be said to exist) would be the product of at least two (but commonly up to four or five) separate building campaigns by differ­ent lords. In that sense the multi-period ruins at Barnard, Brougham, Goodrich, Kenil­worth, Ludlow, Middleham, Pevensey, Pickering, Prudhoe, Richmond and Warkworth might be regarded as more typical, together with Dover, Durham, Farnham, Warwick, Windsor, and the Tower of London which have remained in use and consequently had rebuilding, alteration and additions made in post-medieval and more recent periods.

Several major castles such as those of Banbury, Devizes, Gloucester, Liverpool, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Northampton have vanished, whilst meagre remains of major early castles at Bedford, Bourne, Bramber, Bridgnorth, Bristol, Cambridge, Elm­ley, Fotheringhay, Leicester, Marlborough, Reigate, Sleaford, Stamford and Wallingford give only the merest hint of what once stood at those sites in their heyday. Castles such as Hedingham, Orford and Rising have now little to show apart from a splendid keep surrounded by earthworks, and those of Berwick, Knaresborough, Nottingham and Ox­ford are also just pale shadows of their former selves....