Exeter Castle

Exeter Castle, also known as Rougemont Castle, was originally no more than a defensive city wall built by the Romans and later repaired by King Athelstan around 928 AD.

After the Norman Conquest of England, the city of Exeter —  like many other cities at this time — rebelled against William the Conqueror. In 1068, William laid siege to the city, which lasted eighteen days before surrendering. William then ordered construction of the castle within the city walls. Baldwin FitzGibert managed the construction of the castle, which was placed at the highest norther angle of the Roman city wall on a volcanic outcrop. The large stone gatehouse still survives, a testament to the Anglo-Saxon masons who likely built it on William’s orders.

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I also wrote a short piece based in the city of Exeter, called Exeter Burning. It doesn’t include the castle but instead centers around the cathedral.

*image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license, author Juan J. Martinez

Bodiam Castle

Bodiam Castle is a 14th century castle in East Sussex built by Edward Dalyngrigge in 1385. Edward Dalyngrigge was a former knight of Edward III, fighting for the king in the Hundred Years’ War as a member of the Free Companies. He received his license to build Bodiam from King Richard II.

The castle has a classic appearance with a water moat surrounding the outer defenses with a bridge leading across to the main gatehouse. The bridge that currently exists today is not the original bridge, however. The original bridge formed a right angle before straightening out to the main gatehouse to prevent attackers easy access to the castle.

While the water moat has a classic “medieval” look to it, surprisingly water moats were not all that common with medieval castles. Many castles simply had a dry ditch with stakes impaled in the dirt and an earthen wall sloping up to the foot of the outer walls. With a retractable drawbridge pulled back across the dry moat, these obstacles put attackers in a difficult position when assaulting a castle.

A unique feature about Bodiam is the fact it has no keep. The buildings within the castle are built into the inner walls and the courtyard is left open. Most castles would employ a central keep in the middle of the courtyard for a last defense, but Bodiam left that space open. This probably is a testament to the fact that Bodiam was as much or more of a residence than actually built for pure defense.

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*photo by Antony McCallum, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.