My Illlustrated Travel Journal with Essays about Roman and Mediaeval History and some Geology
Normans, Angevins and Britons - The History of the Honour of Richmond, Part 1
Richmond Castle, situated on a cliff above the river Swale in northern Yorkshire, is one of the finest examples of Norman architecture since it has not been altered in later centuries and displays the largest remains of 11th century architecture in England. It was part of the Honour of Richmond, a vast accumulation of lands which encompassed possessions in several counties in England. No wonder its history turned out to be rather convoluted. The castle itself played but a small role in comparison, but the photos serve as a nice illustration to the history posts.
Richmond Castle, the keep
William's conquest of nothern England did not go smoothly. Rebellions flared up in 1069/70, supported by Edgar Ætheling, last surviving member of House Wessex, who had found shelter with King Malcolm III Canmore
of Scotland, Edwin and Morcar of Mercia, Gospatric of Northumbria - whom William had installed as earl - and his cousin Waltheof of Northumbria. They made a pact with King Sveyn Estridson of Denmark, so there was a significant threat to William's rule.
But he acted fast and hard, and brought the rebellion down. Warfare at the time, and specifially as a strategy used by William, was often the large scale destruction of lands and settlements. In this case it came to be known as Harrying of the North. William bought the Danes off and distributed the lands of the rebels among his followers, though Waltheof was pardoned and even married William's niece Judith.
Richmond Castle, view towards Scollard's Hall and Gold Hole Tower, with Robin Hood Tower to the left
One of those to benefit from the redistribution of lands in northern England was Alan Rufus of Brittany. He was a son of Eudes Count of Penthièvre, second cousin of the Duke of Brittany, and related to William through his grandmother. He had led a contingent of knights and warriors from Brittany at Hastings and during the Conquest. He got a nice chunk of the lands in Yorkshire that had belonged to Edwin of Mercia. Alan also held lands in Lincolnshire, Hertforshire, Dorset, Essex and several other shires and counties. Those would later be known as Honour of Richmond (1).
It is not sure when exactly the grant was made, but Alan was in possession of the borough and 'castelry' of Hindrelag - the ancient name of Riche Mount - in 1086, witnessed by the Domesday Book. It is likely that he constructed the first castle. This would have included the stone curtain wall, the archway in what is now the ground floor of the keep, and Scolland's Hall.
After Alan's death in 1089, succession changed quickly between his younger brothers Alan of Penthièvre and Stephen of Tréguier. The next one to make an impact in history was Alan III of Richmond, Stephen's son. Stephen's other son Geoffrey inherited the Breton lands. Alan was a supporter of King Stephen (don't confuse the two Stephens) during the civil war, while Geoffrey supported the Empress Mathilda. Alan married Bertha of Brittany (Bertha of Cornouaille), the daughter of Duke Conan III of Brittany and Maude, an illegitimate daughter of King Henry I. King Stephen wanted to draw Brittany to his side by arranging the marriage.
Alan fought at Lincoln in 1141, escaped, but was later captured by Ranulf Earl of Chester during an ambush. It is said that he was tortured into submitting to Ranulf (2). When the latter wanted to ally himself with King Stephen in 1145 Alan of Richmond was among the leading nobles who counseled the king against it; Ranulf was arrested and upon release promptly returned his allegiance to Empress Mathilda.
Remains of the 12th century house
Alan died about 1146. His wife Bertha returned to Brittany where she married Eudo Viscount of Porhoët who became duke of Brittany by right of his wife (her father Conan III died that same year and renounced his son Hoël as heir; 1148).
(left: Conan's keep, with Alan's old gate integrated into the ground floor; one can distinguish the different stone work)
When Conan IV, who was born around 1135 (3), came of age some time in 1154, his stepfather Eudo denied him his heritage. Conan allied himself with his uncle Hoël who had received Nantes, but was defeated by Eudo (4) and had to flee to England where Henry II, who had just become king, installed him as Earl of Richmond.
It was likely during that time Conan started to build the large keep, though it may have been finished by King Henry II. It is 30 metres (100 ft.) high and erected over an already existing gate archway which is included in the ground floor of the keep. The barbican may also date to Henry's activities rather than Conan's who soon returned to Brittany. Richborough itself had been granted the status of borough in 1145, and in the late 1150ies was a prosperous town.
Conan returned to Brittany in 1156, assisted by troops and money from King Henry. He managed to capture Eudo at Rennes and claim the duchy, but the local nobles suspected his position as vassal of the King of England.
When Mathilda's husband Geoffrey of Anjou, who also was comte of Nantes, died in 1158; Conan snatched the county of Nantes which invoked the anger of King Henry who confiscated the earldom of Richmond and set sail for the continent. Conan submitted at Avranches, ceded Nantes and was confirmed as duke (5) and probably regained Richmond as well. He married Margaret of Huntingdon, sister of King Malcolm IV of Scotland and his more famous brother William the Lion, the future king, in 1160 (6).
Rebellions kept flaring up in Brittany, mostly aimed at King Henry II, but it seems that Duke Conan could not keep his vassals under control, either, and there were border quarrels with Normandy and Maine. Finally, Henry had enough. When Raoul II de Fougères, supported by Eudo of Porhoët and other nobles, led yet another revolt in 1166, he captured the castle and brought Raoul to heel. It seems that Henry held Conan responsible for the mess, because he forced the duke to abdicate and retire to his lands at Guigamp - though he kept Richmond as well - and betrothe his daughter Constance to Henry's fourth son, Geoffrey (he was eight, the girl five years old).
View from the cockpit garden to the domestic range
Conan died in 1171; his daughter Constance became the titular duchess of Brittany under the guardianship of King Henry, who took control of the Honour of Richmond as well. Constance and Geoffrey married in 1181, but Henry was loth to relinquish Richmond which he made a royal castle instead (though he eventually did part with the Honour in 1183).
Geoffrey of Anjou, Duke of Britanny and Earl of Richmond, died in 1186 during a tournament at Paris. His son Arthur was born after his death. Constance married Ranulph Earl of Chester, likely under pressure by King Henry. The marriage was not a happy one and she got a divorce in 1197. Constance then married Guy the Thouars. She died in 1201.
Another view of the domestic range with the Robin Hood Tower in the foreground
Little Arthur, Duke of Brittany and Earl of Richmond under the guardianship of his mother, was named as heir presumptive to his uncle Richard Lionheart, then King of England, in the Treaty of Messina 1190. I bet Richard's brother John was not happy about that.
Upon his return from crusade and captivity in 1194, King Richard started to sort out the messes in Normandy, Anjou and Brittany that had developed during his absence. One step was the attempt to take young Arthur into his custody as pawn agains the Breton nobility who was on the verge of a revolt yet again and swore an oath of fealty to Arthur. Richard invited Constance to meet him at court in 1196, but she was abducted by her own - estranged - husband (7). Arthur was spirited away to the court of Philippe Auguste King of France, the place where Richard would have wanted him least of all.
Constance was released from captivity a year later and got her divorce. Arthur was raised at the French court and betrothed to Philippe Auguste's infant daughter Marie. He still was officially Richard's heir since the latter never revoked the Treaty of Messina. Richard probably hoped for children of his own at that point.
The so-called Robin Hood Tower
Richard's unexpected death in April 1199 opened up the succession debate. Most of the Anglo-Norman barons and those from Aquitane would prefer the grown man - Richard's brother John - to the boy Arthur, while the Bretons and barons from Anjou insisted that the son of an older brother was the rightful heir. The formidable Eleanor of Aquitane, aged eighty, but still political astute and influential, supported her son John.
King Philippe Auguste of France supported Arthur, who did hommage to him for Brittany. An attempt was made to settle matters at the Treaty of Goulet: Philippe Auguste accepted John as heir of the Plantagenet lands, while Arthur would get Brittany, and his half-sister Alix de Thouars (from Constance's third marriage) the Honour of Richmond. That peace was short lived. Philippe Auguste soon confiscated some lands in Normandy, and when Arthur upon the death of his mother in 1201 became Duke of Brittany in his own right, he allied himself with the influential Lusignan family who was insulted by John's marriage to the fiancée of Hugh of Lusignan (Isabella of Angoulême), and made another attempt at the crown.
Arthur besieged his grandmother Eleanore in Mirabeau. When John rushed to her relief, his army managed to capture Arthur, several Lusignans, and a number of Breton nobles. Several Breton nobles were sent to Corfe Castle in England and starved to death, though John eventually made peace with the Lusignans.
View to domestic range with Gold Hole tower and foundations in the foreground
Arthur was first taken to Falaise Castle and later to Rouen. He obviously was treated badly, put in heavy chains and paraded around in a cart. Even the old William Marshal, one of John's stoutest supporters, commented on the injustice and ignominity of such a treatment (8). John lost some supporters over the issue, among them William de Briouze, who had captured Arthur, nor did the imprisonment of their duke stop the Bretons and Angevins from rebelling, and they were soon joined by some of John's Norman nobles.
Arthur was dead by mid-April 1203. What exactly happened will likely remains as obscure as the fate of the boys in the Tower. Morris considers the most likely scenario to have been a secret consultation of John and some of his trusted advisors who concluded that Arthur should be executed as traitor (he violated the terms of the Treaty of Goulet, after all). John's exact role cannot be determined, but rumours soon came up that he was present or even killed the youth in person. It did not help his reputation, nor his power as duke of Normandy. By the end of 1204 John had lost basically all lands in France except for Aquitaine.
Interior shot of the keep
Arthur's heir was his older sister Eleanor, but she too, was a prisoner of John (though obviously treated honourably). She would remain prisoner under Henry III and died as nun in 1241. The Bretons instead recognised Alix, daugher of Constance and Guy de Thouars as duchess. Since the girl was but three years old, her father became regent until 1206, when Philippe Auguste of France took over the guardianship. He married Alix to his own cousin Peter of Dreux. In 1218, they were installed as Earl and Countess of Richmond by William Marshal.
Their son John would become Duke of Brittany and 2nd Earl of Richmond in 1221.
Outer curtain wall with buttresses
After Arthur's death, John had divided the Honour of Richmond, granting part of it to the Earl of Chester (Constance's ex), but kept the castle for himself. He installed one Roald as constable, but that was not a good choice - Roald joined the rebel barons in 1215. He was ousted from office, but back a few months later.
John obviously offered to restore the Honour of Richmond to Alix and her husband Peter if they supported him in the war against the barons and Prince Louis of France (9) - John desperately needed soldiers and knights. But when Peter landed in England in 1217, John was dead and William Marshal regent for the underage Henry III.
The Honour of Richmond would continue to play a role in the conflict between France and England. But that is for another post.
View from the battlements to the river Swale
1) The name 'Honour of Richmond' - alternately 'Honour of Brittany' - is first used in 1203; the Domesday Book refers to the 'lands of Count Alan'.
2) The story about the torture is in the guidebook (and Wikipedia), but not in King's biography about King Stephen. But then, it is a biography of the king, not about Earl Alan, so the story may have been omitted due to limits of what to cover and could be true. Whatever Alan might have sworn to Ranulf, he didn't keep the oaths.
3) Other sources have 1138 as his date of birth. I hate that. ;-)
4) Hoël at the time was busy fighting Geoffrey of Anjou, younger son of Empress Mathilda and Geoffrey V of Anjou, for the possession of Nantes, and could not aid his grandson.
5) Henry II at that time got along with King Louis VII of France who else might have used the discord between Henry and Conan to get his own foot into Brittany, a problem of which Henry was well aware.
6) The French Wikipedia says that King Henry II approved or even arranged the marriage while Warren thinks it likely that he was not happy about an alliance between Conan and the unruly Scottish House of Dunkeld. Considering the strained relationship between Henry and Malcolm, I assume Warren has the right interpretation here.
7) It proved impossible to figure out what exactly Ranulph of Chester was after; did he act on behalf of Richard, or did he on the contrary try to protect Constance (and his own role thereby) from the influence of her brother-in-law?
8) There is a story told by Ralph of Coggeshall that John ordered Arthur to be blinded and castrated and thus rendered unfit to rule, but that his jailer Hubert de Burgh had pity with the boy and refused to carry out the order. The veracity of that story can neither be proven or contradicted.
9) Louis, eldest son of King Philippe Auguste, was married to Blanche of Castile, a granddaughter of King Henry II, which he used as excuse to hold a claim to the English throne.
Frank Barlow: The Feudal Kingdom of England 1042-1216. 5th edition, Edinburgh 1999
Robert Bartlett: England Under the Norman and Angevin Kings 1075-1225. 5th edition, Oxford University Press, 2003
David Bates: William the Conqueror. London, 1989
Dieter Berg: Richard Löwenherz. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft Darmstadt, 2007
John A.A. Goodall: Richmond Castle and St. Agatha's Abbey, Easby. English Heritage Guidebook, 2001
Edmund King: King Stephen. Yale English Monarchs, Yale University Press, 2010
Marc Morris: King John - Treachery, Tyranny and the Road to Magna Carta. London, 2015
W. L. Warren: Henry II. Yale English Monarchs, New Edition, Yale University Press, 2000
Winter Night on Hardangervidda - From Oslo to Bergen by Train
I took the afternoon train from Oslo to Bergen, well aware that the last part of the journey would take place in darkness. But as it turned out, there was sleat later changing into rain once we passed the Hardangervidda, so I didn't miss much since the scenery would have been veiled by rain and fog anway.
The first part of the ride offered a mostly overcast sky and the long period of twilight typical for late March in the north. I managed to get some photos out of the moving train - a journey into winter indeed. Snow was piling up high on the Hardanger Plateau.
Like the Dovre Railway
, the Bergenbanan
(Bergen Railway) was built in bits and pieces. The part from Bergen to Voss dates to 1883. There also was a railway from Oslo to Drammen since 1866. The whole single track line connecting those parts was finished in 1909. It covers a distance of almost 500 kilometes (310 miles), with some 180 tunnels and 300 bridges; the ride takes about seven hours.
Village at the Drammensfjord
The Drammenfjord is a firth of 30 kilometres length which confluences into the outer Oslofjord. It's main estuary is the Drammenselva (Drammen river). Until 2005, a double bridge of 340 respective 450 metres length crossed the river via an island at the town Drammen, but now a modern bridge of 1890 metres spans the entire river.
Shortly after passing the town, the sun decided to have a little peek out of the clouds and made for some lovely mix of water, snow and reflections.
Evening sun sparkling on the Drammenselva
Along Lake Krøderen, the Drammen river (about 50 kilomtres from Oslo) and on to Gol (200 km from Oslo) the rise is not significant, but past Gol the train climbs up to the Hardangervidda. At Geilo (250 km from Oslo) it already reaches 794 metres, and winter was truly setting in. Geilo is one of Norway's most popular skiing regions - no wonder when you look at that.
Holiday huts near Geilo
A few miles later the Hardangervidda begins and takes us up to 1,237 metres (4,050 ft.) above sea level near Finse. The original track led up to 1,300 metres, until the Finse tunnel was built in 1993, cutting through one of the worst part of the vidda. The railway moves above the treeline for about hundred kilometres, and there is a lot of snow. Really a lot - five to eight metres of the white fluff is considered normal, as are storms and snow drifts.
Part of the landscape here is actually a lake; the huts are situated at its shore. Those huts mostly have electricity and other amenities so they can be used in winter.
Holiday houses on the Hardangervidda
The Hardangervidda is the largest high plateau in Europe with an expanse of about 8,000 square kilometres, and a height between 1,200 to 1,400 metres above sea level (the mountain range Sandfloegga rises to 1,721 metres). One can imagine how difficult it proved to build a railway across the plateau, and how difficult it continues to be to keep the track clear of snow. Parts are covered by avalanche protections or run underground, but it still takes special rotating snow blasters running along the tracks from either Geilo or Myrdal to keep the traffic going. Back in the early 19th century, those were steam powered; today diesel is used.
A winter journey can be lovely, but I would like to take the tour in summer as well when one can admire the lakes and the Hardangerjøkulen (Hardanger Glacier), and the sparse, sub-arctic vegetation. There is a famous cycling and hiking way across the vidda, the Rallarvägen from Haugastøl to Flåm.
The railway station at Haugastøl (275 km from Oslo, 988 metres above sea level) is a fine example of station buildings with a stone walled first floor and a second half-storey made of timber - the only one along the railway that survives unaltered since 1908.
Below is the station and hotel of Finse with snow up to the second floor. That may be normal for my readers from some parts of the US, but I have never before seen so much snow in one place.
Finse station and hotel
After Finse, it was getting too dark to take decent photos, and the lights in the train were switched on. I decided to get me a prawn and egg sandwich from the bistro waggon and have a bit of dinner.
The information in this article comes from a little guidebook the NSB Customer Service offered the guests of the railway: Oslo - Bergen. Die Bergenbahn.
A Trace of Spring in Dovrefjell - From Trondheim to Oslo by Train
Researching the convoluted history of the Honour of Richmond takes a bit more time than I thought, so here is a landscape post to go in between the Yorkshire castles I visited in 2013. I took the train from Trondheim to Oslo mid-April 2011 after the Hurtigruten voyage and managed to take some photos out of the moving train. The usual caveat for pictures taken out of a train or bus applies: there might be some reflections from the windows and slight blurs.
I traveled the Dovre Railway in the 'wrong' direction. When it was built, the first stage covered the way from Oslo to Eidsvoll and was the first railway in Norway (1854). The line was then built in bits and parts. The stretch between Søren and Trondheim dates to 1864, followed the connections between Eidsvoll - Hamar - Lillehammer etc., while the last part from Dombås to Søren - the original Dovre Railway which today gives the name to the entire route - was finished in 1921.
Melting ice on the river Driva
The railway follows the Mediaeval pilgrim's route from Oslo and surroundings to the cathedral and the shrine of St.Olav in Nidaros, as Trondheim was then called. The journey would take several days; the lake Mjøsa was crossed by boat in summer, and in winter the Dovrefjell was sometimes impassable at all. Today the journey takes about 6 hours.
Mountains in the Dovrefjell
The first mountain range some 150 kilometres south of Trondheim is the Kongsvoll (886 metres above sea level). The area is knows for a rich and varied mountain flora. The railway runs beside the river Driva (see photos above).
More mountains in the Dovrefjell
The Kongsvoll gives way to one of the larger mountain ranges in Norway, the Dovrefjell. The hightest point of the railway is at Hjerkinn, 1025 metres above sea level. The highest mountain, the Snøhetta, is even higher at 2286 metres. The Dovrefjell and the bogs at Fokstumyrene are rich in wildlife: mooose, reindeer and musk ox can be found here. The site was declared a national park as early as 1923.
Bogs in Dovrefjell
The train then follows the river Gudbrandsdalslågen down to Lillehammer and Lake Mjøsa. The Gudbrandsdal (dal
= valley) is a popular area for tourists who love nature and hiking. The river and its tributaries are fed from the glacier at Jotunheimen.
Lake Mjøsa is Norway's largest lake. It is 120 kilometres long (360 square km expanse) and the train follows its shore almost the entire way. Other than the fast running rivers which were busy thawing, most of the lake was still frozen, though I'm not sure if the ice still carried. It did on the lakes near Kirkenes, but that is a far way futher north.
Lake Mjøsa was still frozen
From Eidsvoll at the end of Lake Mjøsa it is about 70 km to the final destination: Oslo. I arrived in Oslo on a sunny and rather warm early afternoon, very different from the cold and overcast weather two weeks ago when I came from Copenhagen to stay a few hours before I took the train to Bergen
. Spring had arrived in southern Norway.
The railway cuts through basalt cliffs near Oslo
I hope you liked the little tour through a part of Norway at a time of the year when the weather can change between winter and spring within a few hours.
Looks like the snow in the UK is mostly gone now as well. There was no snow where I live, but some really
cold days. At least a bit of winter.
A thawing river
The information in this article comes from a little guidebook the NSB customer Service offered the guests of the railway: Dovrebanen Oslo - Trondheim - I pilegrimens fotspor, 2002.
The Architecture of Scarborough Castle
After the tour through the earlier and later history of Scarborough Castle, let's have a closer look at some of the architectural features.
The barbican seen from the viewing platform;
the double D-shaped outer gate is to the left, the first bridge to the right
Since the castle is situated on a headland with steep cliffs (about 90 metres / 300 feet high) on three sides, there was only the landward side which needed additional protection. A double ditch was cut and curtain walls put up; the remains of the present ones date mostly from the 12th and early 13th centuries. The entrance was defended by a gatehouse with a double D-shaped tower on the land side, as well as two drawbridges (which today have been rebuilt in stone) and a walled-in walkway. There likely had been a portcullis, too.
Tower protecting the barbican bridge
The barbican, which is first mentioned in a source from 1175, has been altered considerably during the history of the castle. The tower protecting the walkway between outer gate and castle gate was built by King Henry III in 1243, for example. You can see the different stones: ashlar for the filling, and cut stones for the shell.
One of the wall towers seen from the outside
The curtain walls were futher protected by towers; 12 in all, which were added at different times. The towers along the inner bailey were hollow, allowing the insertion of two floors - with arrow slits - while the towers further toward the sea were solid with battlements on the top.
Interior of one of King John's towers
Several towers were added by King John; those are D-shaped, a 'modern' design for England at the time where most towers were still suqare. One of the towers in the inner bailey - albeit no longer standing to its full height - holds a viewing platform for the visitors of the castle which gives a fine view over the landward defenses.
King John's chambers with the keep in the background
King John also build what is refered to as King John's Chambers or Mosdale Hall; a two storeyed hall built against the townside curtain wall in the outer bailey. Only the basement survives today. The upper storey would have housed the royal appartments and maybe a chapel as well; the rooms were heated by fireplaces. The basement storey consisted of a hall and smaller chambers which probably were used by the household officials. The staircase was located in a tower adjacent the main building.
King John's Chambers aka Mosdale House, interior
The building was still in use at the time of King Henry III in the 1260ies. A document from the time of King Edward III says the Queen's chambers were located in the building (1361).
But the hall fell into ruins in the 16th century. It was briefly reused as barracks during WW1 when brick buildings were put up inside the remains, but those were destroyed and dismantled after the war.
Outer curtain wall seen from above, with the remains of Mosdale Hall
The inner bailey was once protected by its own curtain wall and ditch that separated it from the outer bailey, with two gates for access. Remains of wall and ditch
can still be seen. Today, only the keep survives, but at the time of King Henry II the inner bailey included several more domestic buildings. Some of the stones in King John's Chambers were reused from the remains of those buildings which must have fallen into decay at an early stage.
The inner curtain walls
The rectangular keep, even in its ruinous state, still dominates the castle and appears on several of the photos I added in my prior posts. King Henry II put it on the highest spot of the headland where one could overlook the town and approach to the castle. The keep was built some time between 1159 and 1169; it was about 27 metres (90ft.) high, with walls that were up to 3.5 m (12ft.) thick.
King Henry's Norman keep, inside
The keep was erected on a sloping stone base and consisted of a basement and two additional storeys; the access was by a door in the first floor. The original staircase was housed in a tower, a forebuilding, which had two floors that did not correspond to the storeys of the main keep.
Originally, each corner of the keep proper had a turret overlooking the battlements which made it look even taller. Those battlements were higher than the countersunk roof of the quarters inside the walls (1). Countersunk roofs were rather common in Norman keeps; the fake walls hid the level of the actual roof in case of bombardements during a siege.
Interior of the keep, different angle
The present level of access is above the basement from where one can see the remains of the walls and window openings, as well as a fireplace. Some of the windows have scuncheon seats as you can see in the photo above (the uppermost window with the double arch).
Both first and second floor were divided into two rooms along the east-west range. Those walls contained one great arch on the first and three smaller ones on the second floor. Traces of those partition walls remain as well (see the first of the photos of the keep's interior here). The staircase, and latrines on both floors were hiding in the thick walls.
Another shot of the keep from the inside
The basement was used for storage. The first floor contained the great hall which was semi-separated by the arch. The chapel was a few stairs above hall level in the forebuilding. The second storey with the two rooms may have provided living quarters for the king, with the first room directly accessed from the staircase serving as a more official reception room and the second as his private quarters
The keep likely served as place for grand events during the entire Middle Ages even after King John built the living quarters at Mosdale Hall.
Barbican wall with merlons, Henry's Tower (middle),
and curtain walls seen from outside
1) It has formerly been assumed that there was an additonal storey, since there are traces of windows in the north wall, but any support for another floor is missing, as are fireplaces and hints to partition walls.
John A.A. Goodall: Scarborough Castle; English Heritage Guidebook, 2010
Scarborough Castle, Part 2 - From Civil War Fortress to Tourist Attraction
Ths is the second part about the history of Scarborough Castle. After James I (James IV in Scotland) ascended the throne in 1603, there was no longer any danger of an invasion from the north, therefore King James parcelled out a number of northern English castles to private owners. Scarborough was bought by a prominent local family, the Thompsons. Since it was no longer used as fortress, the defenses were no longer kept up.
Scarborough Castle, view from the barbican to the keep in the mist
But the castle must still have been in a decent shape, because it played a role again in the Civil War (1642-1651). At the time, a local gentleman named Sir Hugh Cholmley commanded the castle (1). He had been commissioned by the Parlamentarians to raise a regiment, but eventually switched sides and defended Scarborough Castle for King Charles I after he had visited the king in York.
Hugh Cholmley repaired the fortifications and had a garrison of 700 Royalist soldiers (2) who held the castle, as well as the town and the harbour. It was the only port not under dominion of the Royalists, which made them pretty angry, especially since King Charles had his base in nearby York – not to mention the interception of the Parlamentarian supply ships. Even stout Puritans didn't like to go hungry.
The curtain wall leading to the sally port
King Charles lost the battle of Marston Moor in 1644, a defeat that strengthened the position of the Parlamentarians. They began to roll up the Royalist strongholds in the north, and in February 1648, Sir John Meldrum laid siege to the town of Scarborough which surrendered after three weeks, thus cutting off the supply lines for the Royalists. Sir Hugh Cholmley retreated to the castle. It followed five months of one of the bloodiest sieges of the Civil War. Sir Meldrum put a whopper of a cannon nicknamed Cannon Royal (and that for a Parlamentarian weapon) onto the rock west of the castle. It was able to fire 65 pound (about 30 kg) balls. One of those partly destroyed the Norman keep.
Tthe curtain walls were damaged badly and several bloody engagements between soldiers of both sides took place. Meldrum was killed in one of these. Cholmley's garrison suffered from lack of provisions, especially food and - at the end - gunpowder as well. His men died in the fights or of scruvy, so that he finally surrendered in July 1654.
The keep which was partly destroyed during the Civil War
But this was not the end of Scarborough's role in the Civil War. The walls were repaired by the Parlamentarians who used the castle as fortress under the governor Matthew Boynton. He followed the example of Cholmley and declared for King Charles - already imprisoned at that point - in July 1648, after his soldiers went unpaid. Though how the king should have payed them is beyond me.
This time the siege lasted until December when Boynton surrendered. The castle was ordered to be slighted, but the opposition from the town prevented such a drastic measure. King Charles was beheaded on January 30th, 1649, but the war would last another two years. Upon restoration of the monarchy in 1660, Scarborough Castle was returned to the Crown
The bridge between barbican and castle
The castle served as prison in the following years. One of the most famous prisoners was George Fox (1624-1691), founder of the 'Religious Society of Friends', today known as Quakers. He and his followers said that God was everywhere and anyone could preach, so an established church was not neccesary. They also would not take up arms or swear oaths. Small wonder that Fox made enemies among the authorities and was imprisoned several times (the time in Scarborough lasted from April 1665 to September 1666; his quarter was - according to his letters - cold and wet). Cromwell met with Fox in person and they got along rather well, but the Parliament under Charles II forbade the Quaker meetings and had many of them arrested. Fox spent several years traveling in the colonies, especially America. At his death, his religious movement had been firmly established despite all adversary (3).
The 18th century Master Gunner's House
The castle declined in the years to follows. During the last Jacobite Rising of 1754/46 - one of the attempts to regain the British throne for the Catholic Stuarts - some repair was made to the walls by the Hanoverian government, including the addition of three gun batteries. Barracks were constructed inside the remains of King John's Chambers. These would be in use into the mid-19th century. The Master Gunner's House was built at that time as well; the remains of the keep were used as powder magazine. But the castle saw no action during the Rising.
The castle was garrisoned again during the Napoleonic Wars to prevent a French landing in England.
Another angle of the curtain walls
In December 1916, Scarborough was attacked by two German warships, Derfflinger
and Von der Tann
, that fired some 500 shells into town and castle. 17 civilians were killed and more than 80 wounded. The castle keep and the barracks were damaged; the latter so badly that they were dismantled. The bombardment shocked the British public.
The castle seen from the harbour (on a sunny afternoon the next day)
Scarborough had become a 'spa' town already in the second half of the 17th century. The castle came into focus as tourist attraction during the second half of the 19th century when it was no longer used for military purposes. At that time, the foundations of the King's Hall were excavated.
In 1920 the castle came into the guardianship of the Ministry of Works. As the damanged barracks were dismantled, the remains of King John's Chambers were discovered, as well as the remains of the Roman signal station further seaward on the plateau. English Heritage took over the care for the castle in 1984.
Scarborough Castle is said to be haunted by three ghosts, no less, among them a Roman soldier. But despite the fog and the suitably spooky atmosphere, I didn't meet any of those.
Scarborough Castle veiled by the incoming evening fog
1) I could not find out what happened to the Thompson family who had bought the castle in 1603.
2) They had been raised to support the Parlamentarians, but only few left after Cholmley changed sides, though they were allowed to do so.
3) This is a very simplified summary of Fox's life, of course, and I admit that I know little about the details of the Quaker religion.
John A.A. Goodall: Scarborough Castle; English Heritage Guidebook, 2010