Sunday, October 24, 2010

Vicarage Drive Motte number 2

Vicarage Drive Motte number 2

This low mound of earth lies to the South of Vicarage Drive. It consists of a low mound with trees to the West and South West. It is overlooked by slightly higher ground to the North West, so probably wouldn't be a good candidate for a motte and bailey castle.

Above. Motte number 1 looking West.

From this angle (above) the mound is quite visible against the tree line. There doesn't seem to be any sign of a bailey area, ditches or earthworks...though if there had been any of these features, they would most likely have been destroyed when the school was built.

Above. A view of the mound from the North.

The photo above shows how the mound is overlooked from the West. I don't think this is a very good candidate for a motte and bailey castle, or even any sort of 'pre-conquest administrative centre. Early maps of the area don't show any features in this area, named or otherwise, and local historical documents make no mention of a site at this end of town.

Vicarage Drive Motte number 1

Vicarage Drive Motte number 1

This mound lies to the South of Vicarage drive, and consists of two areas of rising ground. The last two photos show a preliminary mound, rising to around fifteen feet in height. The second mound is hidden by the tree cover, shown below. This mound was found to be around forty to fifty feet high.

Above. A view of motte number 1 from Vicarage Drive.

There was no trace of any ditches within the wooded area, although it was in such an overgrown state it would have been extremely difficult to see any last remains of any type of defensive infilled ditch.

Above. Motte number 1 looking East.

The photos above and below show the lower, fifteen to twenty foot bank that runs around the Southern and Western sides of the mound. Could this have been an additional bank thrown up to provide additional defences to this site....or does it represent the remains of a bailey area?

Above. Motte number 1 looking North.

I would say, that of the two Vicarage Drive mounds, this would be the most likely to represent any form of motte and bailey castle or 'pre-conquest administrative centre'.....though again, early maps show nothing of any note in this area, and local historical documents don't mention anything at this end of town. I would have thought, that had there been an important site here, perhaps John Speed would have noted it on his map of 1620, but there is nothing here at all. Both of these mounds are intriguing sites...but it is hard to find any persuasive argument for these mounds being anything other than glacial mounds.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Peel Castle, Isle of Man

Peel Castle
St Patrick's Isle
Isle of Man

Peel lays on the West coast of the Isle of Man, about eleven miles West of Douglas. The town of Peel lays in the shadow of Corrins Hill, a long land mass that separates the town from the Irish Sea. The castle is built on St Patrick's Isle, a small island separated from the mainland, and accessible via a relatively modern causeway. Aerial views of the castle show a collection of roofless buildings, earthworks, curtain walls and a number of towers.

Above. A view from East Quay, looking North towards the ruined castle and cathedral.

Dating from the 11th century, the castle was built by King Magnus Barelegs, King of Norway from 1093 until 1103, King of Mann and the Isles from 1099 until 1102 and King of Dublin from 1102 until his death in 1103. The castle was built of wood at this point, and was built around the existing stone built monastic buildings that occupied the small island at this time. The ruined castle still incorporates the remains of the old cathedral of St German, which can be seen over the 14th century, red sand stone walls. It was used by the church as the administrative centre for the see of Sodor Diocese, until it was abandoned in the 18th century.

The castle on the other hands was maintained right up until 1860, when it was updated and re-fortified to prepare for a possible French invasion. The castle is owned by Manx National Heritage, and is open to the public from April until October.

Photo courtesy of Martin Russell