My friend Paul H. lives in the U.K. He recently took a trip to Scarborough castle during a re-enactment event they had there. He was kind enough to take lots of pictures for us and to write out a nice article on the castle. My thanks go to him for the great work!
On a cliff promontory high above the sea, 280 feet above sea level in fact, there is a Castle which is today quite remarkable. Its walls are still standing, still showing its strength outwardly but inside it has been ravaged by time and events beyond its control.
Also About this Castle:
Medieval re-enactment on site - Pictures of Scarborough -Items on display at the castle
(Here is a distant view of Scarborough perched atop its hill.)
3,000 years of history makes Scarborough Castle a very important site. There appears to have been a Roman Signal station here first.
The name Scarborough was supposed to have come from Old Norse but there have not been any finds to suggest Vikings had been around. However there have been references made to a saga that mentions a raid on the Castle by King Hardrada. Further suggestions have said it was Anglo-Saxon and meant the hill with the fort.
William le Gros, a Count of Aumale builds this Castle and King Stephen makes him the Earl of York.
Henry the second is King and by 1159 the tower is its crowning glory but later it was strengthened by King John
For a more detailed history I would suggest visiting the website www.english-heritage.org.uk A comprehensive overview of its history is presented there.
There is also an opportunity to download a well defined floor plan of the Castle.
The Fortifications that were once huge towers of stone and interspersed between the walls are now little more than shells. The winding stairs are gone, arrow slits blocked and buildings have long since been shattered and all that remains are demarcation walls that show where they once proudly stood. And all devoid of their opulence.
And yet, they still hold a fascination for many tourists some from as far away as China and Rhode Island America.
So what is this fascination that grips us so tightly?
Could it be that we realise that history is not just a dry dusty subject in a book?
That looking and feeling the physical presence of old buildings brings that history to life so we can imagine what it must have been like for the people of that time?
Historically all manner of influences that were brought to bear upon the Castle have been very significant indeed.
From prehistoric finds to Romans and their signal station, the Saxons and Vikings and Medieval Knights. There has been Sieges, Civil War unrest and shelling in World War 1 all having had a part in its life.
Today, the air was again filled with the sounds of battle. Simulated battle with a historic re-enactment group in mail and helm. Shield and bow took centre stage in a grassy arena. I have more pictures of this re enactment here
Numerous tents were set up to simulate an encampment and a smoking fire with cast iron pot hung over it exuded the smells of a medieval meal. A trio of strolling players with their medieval bagpipes music filled the air.
A grand melee was planned where all knights came together in a free for all. All vying to knock off a dragon from the helm of the leading knight.
But the history of this fine example of our English Heritage takes precedence over the assemblage of knights.
Walk its walls, walk within its environs to marvel at its construction. The Keep for instance was only two storeys high but had massive stone construction surrounding the top in such a way as to disguise its true height. No doubt fooling those invaders into thinking it was far more formidable than it actually was.
Coming up Castle walk there is a magnificent gate with imposing tower at each side. Walk up an incline and look to your left. There is a magnificent view of the sea and the North and South Bays of Scarborough.
Walk past the Keep, which has a portion of its structure missing, almost as if it had been excised to show its internal construction.
Find the diorama of the Castle in bronze to show how it is laid out.
On your left is the Master Gunner’s House.
After you have made that initial climb you can have a drink or snack in the integral café within the Master Gunner’s house. It has seen lots of battle action but it now sees a different form of action while serving as visitor centre and housing a small museum upstairs.
One of the rooms has a replica of a bronze sword that was found on site, the original being held in the British Museum in London. Pottery shards and cannon balls too were found amongst other things.
In the 1650s it had served as a prison and most notably held George Fox the founder of the Society of Friends or the Quakers as they came to be known. A story suggests that he had complained about the living conditions in his cell. The government lavished money on refurbishing it to make it more comfortable and unfortunately when it was finished – removed him to another prison!
There is a lot more to see and as always there is a guided tour or a recorded talk which you can pick up at the Heritage gift shop as you first come in. Then all you have to do is follow the signs that are numbered at various places and listen to the information for that area. You don’t have to go around in any order merely wander as you will and enjoy the experience.
Have a look at the pictures I have supplied and in selecting slide mode you might just get a feel for our Castle’s virtual visit.
All in all, this venue for children within their 6 weeks holidays is a magical place where at different times they can do sword drills or become Viking marauders or learn about the History involved in why and how the Castle came into being.
Learning can be fun!