The ultimate castle

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The “ultimate ” sandcastle. Image © English Heritage

I was down at our local beach earlier this week and that one thing that hasn’t changed since I was a kid is the desire to build sandcastles. Whether it’s the father or the kids doing the urging I don’t know but there were more than a few in various stages of construction.

This love of sandcastles may have prompted English Heritage to arrange its special sandcastle building weekend at its castles right across the country this weekend.

Last week they started the build-up (forgive the pun) to this Saturday and Sunday’s construction work by creating a special sandcastle at Dover Castle in Kent (in display until mid-August) to show us what a well-designed sandcastle should have. Their ultimate sandcastle featured everything from strong defensive features such as curtain walls and inner walls, crenellations or ramparts, a drawbridge and a portcullis, as well as more decorative reflections of strength and power including a gatehouse and a striking great tower.

The ones I use to build were a little more basic but mine always had to have a moat!

Now it is up to all budding castle architects to see what they can do.

The elements, English Heritage says that make up the ultimate sandcastle include:

Outer Walls which provided the first important line of defence for its inhabitants with the thick stone walls also being reinforced by regularly-placed towers and battlements.

Inner Bailey or Inner Walls: these were the second line of with the inner bailey being a strongly fortified enclosure at the heart of the castle, protecting the Great Tower and the accommodation ranged around it.

Great Tower or Keep: Designed specifically to be the vital last point of defence and also a showy demonstration of wealth and power, they were large stone buildings, often providing comfortable accommodation for their owners.

Gatehouse: The gatehouse was one of the most defensive parts of a castle. Positioned to protect the castle’s main point of entry, they were fortified buildings, often containing traps, metal portcullises and other methods of keeping the enemy out.

Ditch and Bank: A ditch around the circumference of a castle stopped the enemy from directly approaching the outer walls and, while kept at a distance, they could be subject to defensive fire.

As part of its #LoveCastles season, English Heritage is also calling on the public to send it photographs of their own sandcastles. To be in with a chance of winning a stay in one of English Heritage’s historic holiday cottages (there are other prizes as well) you need to build a sandcastle, place one of their #LoveCastles flags (available by £1 donation to our Castles appeal at our sites) on top, and share your pictures on their Facebook, Instagram or by uploading it onto their Castles webpage: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/castles To support the charity’s crowd-funding appeal, visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/defend-our-castles.

 

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