A tour of the Medieval Defences of Southampton

Southampton in Hampshire is often overlooked as a heritage destination. This is perhaps understandable as it is a large and busy port, with the beautiful cathedral city of Winchester only a short distance away. Yet Southampton is fortunate enough to possess some of the best surviving urban medieval fortifications in England. This was due toContinue reading “A tour of the Medieval Defences of Southampton”

Windsor Castle and the Epiphany Rising of 1400

(An engraving of Windsor Castle, Berkshire, dating from 1658 by Wenceslas Hollar, from Wikipedia) At the beginning of 1400 an attempt was made to overthrow Henry IV by a group of disaffected nobles.[1] The attempt was made on 4 January when the king and the court were celebrating the Christmas festivities at Windsor Castle. TheContinue reading “Windsor Castle and the Epiphany Rising of 1400”

Edward I at Conwy Castle on Christmas Day 1294 and the Madog ap Llywelyn Rebellion

On Christmas Day 1294 King Edward I was at Conwy Castle in north Wales. He was attended by many members of his nobility and household. It would ordinarily be expected that this would be a happy occasion with the king being able to enjoy residing in one of his grand new castles in Wales, whichContinue reading “Edward I at Conwy Castle on Christmas Day 1294 and the Madog ap Llywelyn Rebellion”

The Rhys ap Maredudd Rebellion and the Siege of Dryslwyn Castle in 1287

By 1283 Edward I of England had succeeded in conquering Wales, with the native Welsh dynasty of the house of Gwynedd all but wiped out. Yet the English conquerors were forced to contend with years of rebellions by the Welsh. One of these uprisings was led by Rhys ap Maredudd who took up arms againstContinue reading “The Rhys ap Maredudd Rebellion and the Siege of Dryslwyn Castle in 1287”

The Siege of Stirling Castle in 1304

(Stirling Castle) The film Outlaw King begins with a vivid depiction of the siege of Stirling Castle in 1304, a key event in the First Scottish War of Independence. A huge trebuchet is shown throwing a flaming projectile over the walls to smash the defenders into submission. The film uses the surrender of the castleContinue reading “The Siege of Stirling Castle in 1304”

A Survey of Oswestry Castle in 1397

(Oswestry Castle) Oswestry in Shropshire was once an important border castle in the Welsh Marches. Its situation on the top of a natural mound meant that it would have dominated the surrounding landscape, with its main feature being a great tower (otherwise known as a keep). However, the systematic destruction of the site in theContinue reading “A Survey of Oswestry Castle in 1397”

Ten Interesting Facts About Castles in Wales

Beaumaris Castle Beaumaris Castle in Anglesey was one of the castles built by Edward I after his conquest of Wales in the late thirteenth century. Construction work began in early 1295 with many hundreds of men employed on the project and huge quantities of stone, timber and other supplies sent to the site. Over theContinue reading “Ten Interesting Facts About Castles in Wales”

Kidwelly Castle and the Owain Glyn Dŵr Rebellion

For a time in the early fifteenth century it seemed a real possibility that the Welsh rebel leader Owain Glyn Dŵr would succeed in fully driving the English out of Wales and would realise his ambition to be Prince of Wales. The failure of his rebellion was due in large part to the success ofContinue reading “Kidwelly Castle and the Owain Glyn Dŵr Rebellion”

My Ten Favourite Castles in England

Over the past year or so I have been on a quest to visit as many castles in England (and Wales) as possible. This has meant that I have seen some wonderful places around the country (although there are many more that I intend to visit). However, in this blog post I am going toContinue reading “My Ten Favourite Castles in England”

Royal Castles and Coastal Defence in the Hundred Years’ War

(Dover Castle, Kent) In this blog post I discuss the research that I have carried out into the role of royal castles in coastal defence in southern England in the late fourteenth century. My findings have been published in full in the journal Nottingham Medieval Studies. To read more see, Dan Spencer, ‘The Castle atContinue reading “Royal Castles and Coastal Defence in the Hundred Years’ War”