Roman and Mediaeval History, Illlustrated Travel Journals, Mediaeval Literature, Geology
Castles, Celts, and some Churches - Summer Tours 2016
I undertook no larger journey this year, but my father and I - sometimes together with some friends - did a number of day tours and hiking trips which accumulated a fair amount of photos. So there will be a Back With Booty post.
Of, course, we can haz castles and castle ruins. *grin*
Castle Scharfenstein near Leinefelde in Thuringia dates to the early 13th century, though it suffered from a severe fire in the 1430ies and was rebuilt in a more moderate scale. Like so many historical buildings in the former GDR it was neglected, but restoration is going on since 2006 and by now the castle is in pretty good repair.
Castle Altenstein near Bad Sooden-Allendorf
The castle is known as Altenstein (Old Rock) or Altenburg (Old Castle). It's a pretty obscure 14th century castle, and I couldn't find much information about its history. Its lords were vassals of the landgraves of Thuringia in the 15th century, but the castle eventually fell to Hessia. It was returned to the county of Thuringia after WW2. Today, only some ruins are hidden in the woods.
The great hall of Castle Grebenstein
The walls of the impressive great hall (palas
) of Castle Grebenstein near Kassel still survive. The 13th century castle played an important role in the ongoing quarrels between the landgraves of Hessia, the archbishops of Mainz and the landgraves of Thuringia. It was in possession of the Counts of Everstein
in the late 13th century who also held Castle Polle
at the Weser. Thus Castle Grebenstein is another knot in the net of the connections of local noble families.
Remains of Castle Greene
The keep of Castle Greene has been restored like in many other castles, but only some ruins are left of the curtain walls and other buildings. The castle controlled the river Leine and has seen a fair amount of interesting history which I'll have to hunt down.
Castle Tannenburg on a hazy summer day
This one, situated near the village of Nentershausen in Hessia, has been restored and offers a nice place for weddings and other celebrations. They also serve Mediaeval food, though adapted to modern tastes - you can get coffee. *grin* When I asked for a guidebook, the reply was that some historians are working on it but it'll take time because there are so many contradictory sources. I know that
problem only too well.
Castle Sachsenburg in the Harz mountains
Of the famous Castle Sachsenburg near Walkenried, one of the main Harz fortresses of the emperor Heinrich IV
, only a few ruins remain. He was forced to dismantle the castle after the peace with the rebellious Saxon nobles, and it was never restored. Though I'm sure there is more hiding under the earth than one can see - a bit of archaeogical digging should prove interesting. Anyone got the funds? ;-)
We also revisited two castles.
Castle Weidelsburg, the western hall which had been scaffolded in during our first visit
When I visited the Weidelsburg
in 2008, repair work had been going on and the western keep had been scaffolded in. I wanted to return once the whole sandblasting, mortar replacing and cleaning of brambles in the zwinger
would be done with. The castle looks really nice now - and it was impressive already before.
is not so far from where I live, so it was not a big deal to go there again with my new camera. The posts about that castle need to be rewritten, and I could do with some additional photos.
Remains of the palatine seat in Gelnhausen
Another visit brought us to the palatine seat in Gelnhausen. It played an important role in the history of the Staufen family (esp. in the feud of the emperor Friedrich Barbarossa with Heinrich the Lion), which is why I wanted some photos of that one for a long time. I had been there as child, so it was a trip down the memory lane as well. It seemed larger to me back then.
There was more than castles, of course.
Glauberg, the tumulus
On the way back from Gelnhausen we stopped at the famous Celtic Museum on the Glauberg. That's another place that had been on my wish list for quite some time. Those Celts are just fascinating.
Glauberg, head shot of the famous statue
And here's the guy which graces the cover of at least two thirds of all books about the Celts, the 'Celtic prince with the leaf crown'. The statue probably stood on top of the tumulus once; now it is inside the museum. I was surprised that the guy isn't much taller than I am - somehow I got a mental image of a 8-10 feet tall statue.
The Romanesque church of Wahlshausen monastery
St. Mary's Church in Wilhelmshausen near Kassel is all that remains of the monastery of Wahlshausen. It is another of those pretty Romanesque churches you can find in German villages. It is also the burial site of the last Lord of Sichelnstein
, Bardo, who died in 1239 (though the tomb doesn't remain).
Salzwedel, the castle keep, with the Monk's Church in the background left
Salzwedel had been an important town involved in the salt trade in Mediaeval times, and member of the Hanseatic League. Unfortunately, it was situated in the GDR and thus neglected. Much has been done after the reunion, but it can't rival its big sister Lüneburg.
Salzwedel, interior of St.Laurent Church
The architecture is mostly brick, typical for the nothern German Hanseatic towns. The keep of the castle remains as well as several churches of Romanesque and Gothic style. But else the place is rather quiet, and some houses still in bad need of repair.
Arendsee monastery, the church
The Benedictine monastery (or rather, nunnery) in Arendsee was founded in 1183. It is a beautiful example of Romanesque brick architecture. The church survives intact, but of the other buildings only ruins remain. Pretty, picturesque ruins on a hill at a lake that shone with a clear blue on that sunny afternoon.
Arendsee, remains of the monastery buildings
Lovely and peaceful.
Don't miss the second post about our summer tours below. That one gives glimpses into our hiking tours.
Rocks, Romans, and a Ringwall - Hiking Tours in Summer 2016
I've already presented the hiking tours in the juniper heath near Rossbach and the 'Hessian Switzerland'. Here are some more we did this year.
Karst landscape in the Meissner
The tours included a second - and more extended - visit to some of the most interesting karst formations in the Meissner
, with its pretty white limestone rocks and hidden sinkholes. One better remains on the official paths. *grin*
Basalt and red sandstone on the Blue Dome (Blaue Kuppe)
Another interesting geological formation is the Blue Dome (Blaue Kuppe
) near Eschwege. That one consists of volcanic basalt high in olivine from 12 million years ago, which rose through a layer of coloured sandstone. It had been quarried until 1920, but today the area is a nature reserve.
Devil's chancel, Werra valley
Of course it wasn't the devil - who gets blamed for all sort of odd rocks that stick out in a landscape, but geological processes that shaped the protruding rock of coloured sandstone which offers a nice view into the Werra valley. But the name Teufelskanzel
(Devil's Chancel) sounds more fun than something like 'Red Sandstone Cliff'.
Nature reserve with very old trees near Sababurg Castle
It is no genuine jungle, but the forest near the Sababurg
has been left to grow since 1907 and it looks fairly primeval by now. The land had formerly been a forest where the pigs and cows would be driven to feed, so the vegetation was kept short except for some large trees. The sunlight reached the ground, and after the place became a nature reserve, younger trees could grow up between the old veterans. Some of the old ones look really twisted now.
Carolingian ringwall near Bad Sooden-Allendorf
On a mountain looming behind the town of Bad Sooden-Allendorf at the Werra, remains of a Carolingian earthen ringwall can be found. It is so overgrown that it really takes some imagination, though. Even less - that is, nothing - remains of the timber and wattle-and-daub houses inside the fortification. It was likely erected to protect the salt mines at the Werra, but little is known of the history of the site.
The Bruchteiche lakes near Bad Sooden-Allendorf
On the way up to the ringwall one passes some artificial lakes, the Bruchteiche
, which were dug out in 1910 to cover the increasing need of drinking water in the spa town of Bad Sooden. The salt has been used for medical purposes since that time. The twin town of Bad Sooden-Allendorf is still a spa town today.
The Roman battlefield at Kalefeld / Harzhorn
The 3rd century battlefield at Kalefeld / Harzhorn, where Romans fought against Germans and which had been discovered in 2008, now includes a hiking way with information tablets and marked spots in the landscape that explain the battle. It is indeed very informative and interesting. And a nice walk, too.
The Oder in Bad Lauterberg / Harz
I'll leave you with some cold water: the Oder river in the spa park in Bad Lauterberg in the Harz. After the route diversions between Göttingen and the Harz which had annoyed us for several years, have finally been cleared up, we'll plan to go there more often again.
From Paleolithic Cave to Mediaeval Church - The Steinkirche near Scharzfeld / Harz
The karst landscape in the southern Harz not only has some interesting rock formations and a castle that makes use of the limestone cliffs as curtain walls, but some caves as well. One of these can be found near the village of Scharzfeld. Excavations have shown that is was used as shelter since the Paleolithic time, but more unusual is its use as church in the Middle Ages.
Entrance of the cave
The cave is a fracture cave, formed by erosion of soluble material (gypsum) which left a cleft in the harder rock (dolomite) along natural fissures in the rock. The entrance had been much narrower; it was extended in the Middle Ages.
The way up to the cave (260 metres above NN) is rather steep and the 9 metres high cliff wall almost vertical. The dolomite rock continues above the cave for several more metres in the shape of a sort of ridge; it also forms a second wall on the side of the plateau. This defensible position may later have attracted an early Christian community.
The cliff seen from the way to the cave
Excavations on the plateau took place as early as 1925-28 under the supervision of Professor K.H. Jacob-Friesen, director of the Provincial Museum (today Lower Saxony State Museum, Hannover). He discovered a Mediaeval graveyard on the plateau which had been in use from the 8th until the 15th century, as well as some pieces of Gothic tracery and roof shingles near the cave entrance which point at some sort of man-made entrance hall to the cave church during that time. A number of pottery shards date to the 13th to 15th centuries. An excavation in 1937 was supposed prove that the cave had been a Germanic cultic site, but no finds could confirm that.
The way to the cave
Below the graveyeard, in a depth of 1.20 metres, is a layer of yellow dolomite sand, the weathering product of the dolomite rocks. It contains remains of the bones of Ice Age wildlife and flint tools dating to the late Paleolithic Magdalenian (BC 17,000 - 12,000), also known as the age of reindeer hunters. Interesting is layer of charcoal ash 2 cm thick and 80 cm in diamters within the dolomite sand in the middle of the plateau, surrounding a flat dolomite plate which is supposed to have served as some sort of Ice Age barbecue. The finds of flint tools and shards were most dense around this fireplace; even a bone needle survived - the people of the Magdalenian were known not only for their advanced flint technology (for example microlith arrow and harpoon points) but also for working bone, antler and ivory.
View into the valley
It would have been a good spot for the Paleolithic hunter-gatherers some 12,000 years ago: a nice cave with a plateau on a cliff that offers a good view over the Oder valley (1) and the Harz foothills. The valley would have been a steppe landscape at the time, populated by reindeer, bison, steppe horses, but also smaller animals like mountain hares and ptarmigan.
The cave, then much smaller in width, was likely not used as a permanent living place. The assumed scenario is that the Magdalenian hunter-gatherers followed the wandering of large herbivores, esp. reindeer and used the place during the hunting season as seasonal lodge.
Church and Hermit's Cave (to the left)
There are several legends about the beginnings of the use of the cave as church, involving a hermit and a miracle - in some versions ascribed to St. Boniface (about AD 732) - by which the cave was shaped. But there are no written sources about the early Middle Ages; the first mention of a church, the 'Chapel at the Knight's Stone', dates to the 15th century. The Gothic traceries and the pottery shards, as well as a dated coin, point at a use of the cave as church since the 13th century, and in case the door arch is indeed Romanesque, it would date the church back to the 12th century.
Closeup of the entrance
Though it is likely that a church existed there much earlier, esp. considering the fact that the site was used for burials since the 8th century. Else there would have been no reason why the surrounding villages would not simply have quarried the dolomite and gypsum kalk to build a stone church down in the valley which would have been easier to access, instead of expanding a natural cave. The cave was probably sacred already (2). It was also easier to defend and may have served as fortified church - in that function it may have played a role again in the 15th century when it appears in the chartes.
The cave church seen from the side
The importance of the church, or chapel, as family inheritance did not last long; after 1586 the cave church disappears from written documents. One can assume that it was no longer used as church after that time. We don't know if it was used for something else like storage - if that was the case it left no archaeological traces. It is also unknown since when the name Steinkirche
(Stone Church) was used for the cave.
Interior of the cave
The interior of the cave is a hall of 28 metres length, and a bredth of 7 to 9 metres. The fracture cave had been to small for a church and was expanded sideways - one can see the difference of the new rock floor and the old floor which is a mix of clay and dolomite sand. The wall in the back of the cave is 6.60 metres high. There is a small cleft leading further into the bedrock. A vertical shaft in the ceiling gives some light. It once held a bell which has been transfered to the village church.
The chancel at the gate
The 6 metres wide entrance to the church had once been closed by a timber gate; one can still see the tongues and the wall plugs for the hinges. The rounded arch may have been a Romanesque feature but it can as well have been built that way because it fits the shape of the cave. At some time there must have been a Gothic entrance hall made of quarried and worked stones as the finds of tracework show. That way the chancel which has been hewn into a natural crack in the dolomite rock was inside the building. Today it is outside the gate. One female burial has been discovered directly below the chancel.
The Hermit's 'Cave
The side wall holds another small natural cave which has been extended. It forms a 3.50 metres wide chamber with a 'backdoor' leading up to the ridge. It is called the Hermit's Cave, though there is no proof that a hermit actually lived there. Maybe it had been a side altar like the ones you can find in the side chapels in Gothic churches.
The altar niche
Interest in the cave was renewed when Romantic painters like Ludwig Richter (1803-1884) traveled around in search for romantic and picturesque nature and ruins. Richter painted the cave in 1828 (complete with a shepherdess and some goats). The Steinkirche
is one of the most important prehistoric monuments in Lower Saxony. Today the place is quite popular with neo-pagans.
View out of the cave (without goats and a shepherdess)
1) Not the more famous Oder at the border to Poland but a smaller river which springs in the Harz and confluences into the Rhume. Some of its seepage also feeds the Rhume springs.
2) Despite the lack of Germanic archaeological finds it is not impossible that the cave was used as sacred site by the local Germanic tribe; it's the sort of place that would have attracted a Christian missionary to turn into a church. But there is no proof that such a continuation in the use of the cave did indeed take place.
Hiking in Hessian Switzerland (Hessische Schweiz)
We've been doing some more hiking tours south of Göttingen. One of the areas - situated near Eschwege - is called the Hessian Switzerland (Hessische Schweiz) due to its mountains and pretty vistas. Here are some photos of a walk we did back in May.
View from the 'Salt Woman' viewpoint towards Eschwege
The dominating feature of the area is the Gobert, a musselkalk ridge which runs from the Hainich in Thuringia to the Werra valley in Hessia. It is one of the largest sturzstrom areas in Germany - errant rocks and boulders of the prehistoric slides can still be seen all over the place. A sturzstrom is basically an XXL landslide with a much larger horizontal impact and distribution of material.
Another pretty view
The plateau of the Gobert proper near the village of Hitzelrode is about 570 metres high and covered with calcareous beech forest and some rare orchids which I can never find. Several hiking tours explore the ridges and valleys that have been cut into the mussekalk by brooks and rivers. The tour we did is not so difficult, but there is another tour that comes so close to some cliffs that you need a good head for heights (which I don''t have).
The way on top of the Gobert
The particular geology of the area goes back to the border between the Upper Bunter sandstone (some 245 million years ago) which consists of 'waterproof' layers of clay and silt, and the strata of water permeable musselkalk above it. Due to the water that permeates through the musselkalk and collects on the clay of the upper Bunter, the rocks formations in the area have been rather unstable, leading to landslides, sturzstroms and rockfalls, the formation of cliffs, crevices and caves.
Cliffs at the Horse Cave
Both rock strata - together with the third and youngest, Keuper - belong to the Germanic Trias which followed the period of the Zechstein Sea. The Zechstein Sea and the following age of alternating arid times and ingressions by the sea stretched from England in the west to Poland in the east; it's nothern border were the Iro-Scottish highlands, then still connected with northern America.
New vistas around every bend
Well, back to the hiking. We had to ascend a pretty steep path until we reached the plateau, but from there it was nice going through the beech forest, with several pretty views at the surrounding landscape. Those spots are well protected by rails and offer benches for a rest. Some of them are connected with historical events or interesting rock formations.
The Salt Woman
Another geological feature are the salt deposits of the Zechstein Sea which have come close to the surface in some spots thanks to the geological changes. One of these deposits can be found nearby - the town Bad Sooden-Allendorf is named for it. The spot on the photo above was either a resting place for women carrying salt along the ridge path, or the guardpost of the wives of salt smugglers who could see far into the valley below and warn their men of patrols.
View from the Horse Cave towards the village of Hitzelrode
Another interesting spot is the Horse Cave or Horse Hole (Pferdeloch
). The Horse Cave is a ravine with several musselkalk pillars and chimneys (you can see a photo of the cliffs above). It is said that the ravine has been used as hiding place for the villagers' horses and cattle during the Thirty Years War.
The Wolf Table
The Wolf Table (Wolfstisch
) is a musselkalk plate on a boulder of similar material - the combination looks pretty much like a table. It is only a few metres away from another cliff and may have been used as sacrifical place during the Iron Age and perhaps as a secret meeting place in the Middle Ages. It surely is the sort of natural feature that would have been interpreted as having been created by the gods.
Wolf Table, seen from a different angle
It were not the gods, of course, but erosion. The cliff once had been a larger plateau that eroded over time. Besides the Wolf Table, there are several more rocks that have withstood erosion a bit better than the surrounding material. But some - likely far - time in the future, the edge of the cliff will reach the table and it will slide down into the valley.
Closeup of the Wolf Table
The inner German border after WW2 ran directly across the Gobert. The American occupied part in Hessia became part of the BRD in May 1949, while the Sovyet occupied land in Thuringia was part of the GDR since October 1949. For 40 years, this part was inaccessible for us though we lived in Eschwege in the 80ies.
View from the Wolf Table into the valley
There is a second loop of the way on the Goberg plateau on the Thuringian side, which runs directly on the Green Belt for some part. The Green Belt is the result of the former border which had been depopulated and served as refuge for rare species of fauna and flora. After the German reunion, large parts of the belt have been turned into nature parks and biosphere reserves where hiking is allowed, but no building projects and such.
View from the Wolf Table, different angle
We plan to do the second circular route as soon as the weather will allow it. For now, I'll leave you with another pretty view.
Sieges, Decline, and Revival - The History of Conwy Castle in Wales
It turned out King Edward I would soon need his new castle at Conwy - the first of his castles in northern Wales that had been completed.
(left: King's Tower)
In 1294, Madog ap Llywelyn rebelled and took Edward by surprise. The king's reaction was swift, but while his armies managed to recapture some castles Madog's allies had taken, like Criccieth and Harlech, the king himself and his entourage met with bad weather, lost their baggage train to an ambush, got cut off from the main army by a flood, and just managed to escape to Conwy castle where they stayed under siege from December 1294 to March 1295. They received some supplies from the seaside, but they might have had to do with scarce victuals. Winter storms didn't make the naval routes easier. There is an - unproven - mention in the chronicle of Walter of Guisborough that King Edward shared his private supply, the last remaining barrel of wine, with the garrison, "In hardship everything must be held in common, all of us must have exactly the same." This was likely an anecdote with no foundations in history (1). With the arrival of spring and receeding floods, the rebellion was soon crushed (battle of Maes Moydog, March 5th), though Madog ap Llywelyn escaped for a time, but was captured and imprisoned in August 1295.
Conwy Castle then saw one of its rare moments of splendour when the newly elected archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Winchelsey, was officially confirmed in his office by King Edward who still stayed at the castle (2). Those official ceremonies were very important in the Middle Ages, and one can imagine the curtain walls and the king's hall decked out with heraldic banners and garlands, the nobles wearing their finest and most colourful clothes, the tables set with an abundance of food, silver plates and gem-inlaid goblets. Less visible, a veritable army of servants must have bustled along the passageways between the halls, kitchens, and storage cellars.
Windows and a fireplace in the geat hall
The second, and last, such festive event was the investiture of King Edward I's son, Edward of Caernarfon, as Prince of Wales in April 1301. His birthplace Caernarfon Castle had been damanged during Madog's rebellion and obviously was not in a sufficient state to house the royal family. The future King Edward II was granted the royal revenues of the king's lands in Wales and received the homage of the Welsh leaders. This was to give the young prince an income of his own and the Welsh a focus of worship and service. During his reign, King Edward II would establish cordial relationships with several Welsh leaders and accepted a number of Welsh nobles in his household.
(Left: Chapel Tower)
We've seen in the first post that Conwy Castle continued to be in various stages of bad repair since the 14th century, but some parts must have been habitable when King Richard II fled there in 1399. But surely, his stay in the castle was not accompagnied by garlands and heralds, and splendid meals with the nobles of the realm, most of whom had shifted their allegiance to Henry of Bolingbroke Duke of Lancaster, the future Henry IV (3).
Richard's reign had always been unruly due to internal stife between some noble houses who used the king's minority to gain influence. When he finally came of age, Richard tried to assert his power but alienated some of the leading families by his harsh course. The relationship with France was more than a bit uneasy, too. When Richard refused to recall the exiled Henry of Bolingbroke after the death of his father - maybe fearing the rival claim of a man assisted by the Lancaster wealth (and with a son and heir, while Richard had no offspring) - it was the straw that broke the camel's back. While Richard launched an expedition to Ireland where the Anglo-Irish lords whom Richard II had forced into submission in 1395 rebelled again, Henry returned from France and soon gathered a large number of followers, among them Henry Percy Duke of Northumberland.
When King Richard II returned, he found most of the nobles allied against him. He sought refuge in Conwy Castle where he met with the Duke of Northumberland who acted as Bolingbroke's emissary on August 12, 1399. Percy swore that no harm would come to the king if he surrendered (4), an act that may have taken place in the chapel. Richard did surrender and was taken to London where he abdicated as king. He was then transfered to Pontefract castle where he died in February 1400, after a rising to restore him failed. Bolingbroke was crowned as King Henry IV in October 1399.
The range of the royal rooms
Conwy Castle remained in the focus of history. Ony a few months after Henry ascended the throne, the Welsh rose for the umptieth time, this time under Owain Glyn Dŵr. Two cousins of Owain, Rhys and Gwilym ap Twdwr, disguised themselves as carpenters and by that ruse gained entrance into the castle (March 1401). They killed the guards, opened the gate for their men and took control of the place. The rebels also managed to capture the walled town. They held out for several months before they negotiated a surrender that included a royal pardon for the leaders by King Henry IV. Yet, their capture of Conwy lent new impetus to Owain's rebellion. The townspeople, mostly of English descent, claimed a totally unrealistic damage repair that was never paid.
The upper floor of the great hall
Little is known about Conwy Castle during the War of the Roses where it never played a significant role. The next time Conwy comes into focus is during the reign of King Henry VIII when the castle and town walls were repaired in the 1520ies. The castle was used a prison and armament store. Moreover, the royal rooms in the inner bailey got an overhaul that pointed at a use as residence for a future prince of Wales. But the political focus had shifted away from the unruly border regions, and with a king of Welsh descent on the throne, big whopping castles like Conwy were no longer needed. The antiquarian William Camden reported in 1586 that the town of Conwy was but thinly inhabited.
(right: Stockhouse Tower)
King Charles I finally had enough of ruins in bad repair and sold Conwy Castle to Edward, 1st Baron of Conway and Secretary of State, in 1627. The purchase sum was £ 100 (5), but I doubt it was a snap, considering all those leaking roofs, broken floorboards, and tumbling support arches. No wonder then that his son got rid of the thing when he had the chance. Said chance came in the person of John Williams, Archbishop of York, Welsh-born and a stout royalist. Williams had parts of the castle repaired, garrisoned and provisioned out of his own pocket, though King Charles promised to refund him. The king also promised that no other officer would be set over Williams until the royal debts were repaid. That didn't work out too well because Sir John Owen, who was appointed governor of Conwy town in January 1645, definitely acted as Williams' superior and even broke into the castle to 'requisition' provisions. Enraged, Williams turned to the parlamentarians and provided them with important information about Conwy. General Thomas Mytton took the town in August 1646, but the castle withstood a siege until November when it fell as well.
Immediately after the castle came into possession of the parlamentarians, it was used as prison and artillery fortress, but the Council of State decided to slight it already in 1655. Fortunately, that was not done with much enthusiasm; the only trace of post Civil War destruction was a - now repaired - large hole in the Bakehouse Tower.
More damage did its next owner, the third Lord Conway, to whom the castle was returned by Charles II. Instead of putting money into its upkeep at a time where castle became less important als military structures and living places, he tried to get as much money out of it as possible and had all the lead roofs and ironworks removed and sold - much to the dismay of the town inhabitants, who opposed Conway's agent, William Milward, as best as they could by subterfuge and attacks, but in vain. By the end of 1660, only the magnificent stoneworks of Conwy Castle remained reasonably intact, though open to the elements.
The way to the main gate
A hundred years later, the ruins began to attract visitors and artists interested in the picturesque. The castle appears on paintings from the 1790ies to Turner's work in 1851. Some of those paintings are interesting because the show the castle from an angle of the east barbican that is now considerably changed by the bridges across the river Conwy to connect Chester and Holyhead by a coastal road: Thomas Telford's suspension bridge from 1826 and Robert Stephenson's tubular bridge from 1848 (I did not take a photo from that angle). On the other hand, the easier access by road and railway increased the touristic interest in Conwy and its castle.
Interior of the southwest tower
At some point, Conwy Castle had come to the Holland Family, who leased it from the marquesses of Hertford, descendants of the Lords of Conway. But in 1865, it passed into the care of the mayor, bailiffs and burgesses of Conwy (6). Some restoration work was done at that time, like the repair of the damaged Bakehouse Tower.
Parts of the town walls were restored as well. John Henry Parker, Keeper of the Ashmolean Museum Oxford, paid for the fun.
The platform outside the east barbican
As already mentioned in the first post, understanding of the Mediaeval buildings and their construction increased when Arnold J. Taylor became Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments for the Ministry of Works who had taken over the guardianship of Conwy castle and town walls in 1953. He conducted extensive research in Mediaeval sources and on the buildings themselves and discovered that Master James of St.George and other masons hailed from Savoy and introduced some French elements into Edward's Welsh castles.
Conwy Castle and Town Walls are part of the World Heritage Site Castles and Town Walls of King Edward I in Gwynedd
since 1986, cared for by Cadw. Maintenance of the site is still expensive, amounting to about £ 30,000 per annum. The castle attracts close to 200,000 visitors every year, so it's well worth the expense.
Merlons on south west tower
1) Guinsborough ceased writing his chronicle in 1345 which implies that he died. He may have relied on eyewitneeses for the events in 1294, but Ashbee's guidebook states that the event is not proven, and Davis doesn't mention the detail at all. I don't think it would have been much in character for Edward I - his son would more likely have done something like that; Edward II was known for keeping the company of social inferiors.
2) I found a contradiction between Davies who said Conwy was besieged until early March, and Ashbee who mentions the visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury for February 2, 1295. February does strike me as a bad time for traveling, so a date in March would make more sense. Nor does the guidebook give a source for the earlier date.
3) His father John of Gaunt was the 4th son of King Edward III; Richard II was the son of Edward the Black Prince, eldest son of Edward III. Richard had ascended to the throne still a minor in 1377.
4) The death of Richard II at Pontefract castle in February 1400 - it is said he starved to death - may or may not have been murder; that riddle will probably never been solved. But we can't say that Henry Percy of Northumberland swore false in Conwy like the guidebook does, quoting the French chronicler Jean Creton as factual evidence. Creton later was among those who said that Richard was still alive in 1402, but those stories have been discarded.
5) It is difficult to compare the value to the present day currency, but at the time one of the richest men, Henry Somerset 1st Marquess of Worchester, had an annual income of £ 20,000.
6) The guidebook unfortunately doesn't explain the legal background and implications of that transaction. Since the Holland Family had only leased the castle, once can assume they only passed on the lease. I couldn't find out when exactly the castle came into possession of the government.
Jeremy A. Ashbee. Conwy Castle and town Walls - Cadw Guidebook, Cardiff 2007
R.R. Davies: The Age of Conquest. Wales 1063-1415, Oxford 1987, repr. 2000