Were medieval English guns dangerous to use?

Soon after beginning my PhD research into the development of early English gunpowder weapons, I started work at the Westgate Museum in Winchester. The museum is one of two surviving medieval gates to the city and has two fine late fourteenth century gun ports. On my first day, whilst being trained by another member ofContinue reading “Were medieval English guns dangerous to use?”

A tour of Caerphilly Castle

My next tour is of Caerphilly Castle in south Wales, a huge imposing fortress that is a marvel to see. The castle was constructed in the late thirteenth century by the powerful Marcher lord Gilbert de Clare. It was acquired by the Crown following the death of Gilbert’s son and heir at the Battle ofContinue reading “A tour of Caerphilly Castle”

A tour of Carreg Cennen Castle, Carmarthenshire

(View of the outer and inner ward from the south-east) Carreg Cennen Castle has a stunning location, situated as it is on top of a limestone precipice, in a beautiful area close to the western boundary of the Brecon Beacons National Park in south Wales. Before taking you on a tour of the castle, I will begin by providing a brief overviewContinue reading “A tour of Carreg Cennen Castle, Carmarthenshire”

A tour of Corfe Castle, Dorset

My next tour of a historical site is stunning Corfe Castle in Dorset, which has a fantastic setting in the Purbeck Hills. I often visited the place as a child, and it shaped my perception of the ideal castle. The thing I love most about Corfe is the strange shape of the ruins, with wallsContinue reading “A tour of Corfe Castle, Dorset”

A tour of Okehampton Castle, Devon

Okehampton has the distinction of being the largest castle in Devon and there is plenty to explore onsite. Before proceeding on our tour, I will begin with a brief overview of its history. Okehampton was founded in the late eleventh century after the Norman Conquest by Baldwin de Brionne as a motte and bailey castle withContinue reading “A tour of Okehampton Castle, Devon”

Royal and Urban Gunpowder Weapons in Late Medieval England

Dan Spencer, Royal and Urban Gunpowder Weapons in Late Medieval England (Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2019) https://boydellandbrewer.com/royal-and-urban-gunpowder-weapons-in-late-medieval-england.html Now that my book has been out for a few months, I feel the time is right for me to provide an overview of its contents in case anybody is curious. The project was inspired, as so manyContinue reading “Royal and Urban Gunpowder Weapons in Late Medieval England”

A tour of Aberystwyth Castle, Ceredigion

The shattered remnants of Aberystwyth Castle give some idea of the splendour of this once mighty castle. Although overshadowed by its far better known contemporaries, such as Caernarfon, it is still an interesting site. Before taking you on a tour of the castle, I will begin with a brief overview of its history. Aberystwyth wasContinue reading “A tour of Aberystwyth Castle, Ceredigion”

A tour of Ashby de la Zouch Castle, Leicestershire

Ashby de la Zouch is a fine example of a late medieval castle but is perhaps best known for its association with Sir Walter Scott’s novel, Ivanhoe. Before taking you on a tour of the castle, I will begin with a brief overview of its history. Ashby de la Zouch began its existence as aContinue reading “A tour of Ashby de la Zouch Castle, Leicestershire”

Document ordering at The National Archives

The recent outcry about changes to document ordering at The National Archives has led me to reflect on my experience of using the archive. It is by far my favourite archive in the country and I have really enjoyed making use of it. It has a huge collection of records dating from the Middle Ages toContinue reading “Document ordering at The National Archives”

A tour of Denbigh Castle, Denbighshire

Denbigh Castle is without a doubt the finest magnate castle in north Wales and well worth a visit. It is situated in a prominent position overlooking the surrounding town and, despite its ruined state, still has an impressive appearance. Its highlights include the splendid triple-towered Great Gatehouse and Great Kitchen Tower. Before taking you on aContinue reading “A tour of Denbigh Castle, Denbighshire”