Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Seymour Tower, Jersey

Seymour Tower

Seymour Tower is unique on Jersey, as being the only square built tower on an island of round Conway and Martello towers. It was one of General Conway's planned thirty towers. Seymour tower was built in 1782 after the Battle of Jersey, an attack on the British in Jersey by the French, in an attempt to remove the danger the British posed to French and American shipping. Ultimately, the British won this small battle, and as a result, a number of towers, including Seymour Tower, were hurriedly completed to help fend off any further attacks. 

The tower is situated off the South East coast of Jersey, about one and a quarter miles off the coast. It is thought that this Conway tower replaced an earlier tower. 

A few miles to the West of Seymour tower, and also built some distance from the coast, is Icho Tower, one of the earliest Martello towers on Jersey.

Photos courtesy of Martin Russell.

Fliquet Tower, Jersey

Fliquet Tower

Fliquet tower is a Conway Tower....a tower built to designs and concepts by General Conway, Governor of Jersey. Conway was responsible for the design and construction of thirty towers around the island, though from the inception of their design in 1778 to Conway's death in 1795, only 22 towers were actually built. What made these towers so radically different from the later Martello towers, was that they were equipped with machicoulis, stone built devices at the roof line of the towers, designed to allow defenders to drop or fire missiles onto the heads of attackers. Fliquet Tower had its machicoulis removed so does not look like many of its surviving contemporaries.

The tower can be found on the North Eastern tip of the island, and, apart from having the top level removed, is in excellent condition. Check this link for an excellent old photo of the tower.

Photo courtesy of Martin Russell.

Archirondel Tower, Jersey

Archirondel Tower

Archirondel Tower was another of General Conway's towers, started in 1793 and finished eighteen months later. It was the twenty second tower to be completed by Conway, and too much longer than his other towers to complete, possibly owing to its location. The tower can be found offshore on a rocky bank in the sea off the East coast of Jersey. 

Archirondel Tower was the first tower on Jersey to be built with a gun platform at its base, and can probably be viewed as a prototype for La Rocco Tower off the West coaset. Archirondel Tower has three huge sets of machicoulis at its summit.

Mont Orgueil - WWII German additions, Jersey

Mont Orgueil\Gorey Castle -  WWII German additions
St Martin

Jersey was occupied by the Germans from the 1st of July 1940, until the 9th of May 1945. During this period of occupation, the Germans constructed huge amounts of fortifications using captured Soviet manpower. The Channel Islands were some of the last parts of Europe to be liberated from German occupation.

The fortifications on Jersey, formed part of the German's immense Atlantic Wall, a line of fortifications that ran all along the coast of Scandinavia and Western Europe.....a defensive line meant to prevent or slow down an anticipated Allied invasion of mainland Europe. The castle of Orgueil, also known as Gorey Castle, over looks the harbour of Gorey, and was constructed in 1204. The castle was almost impregnable until the introduction of gunpowder. Nearby Mont Saint Nicholas overlooks the castle from the West and rendered the castle useless. Between 1548 and 1549, the castle was updated and brought into line with many fortifications in Europe with the construction of artillery platforms. 

During the German occupation, many fortifications were added to the castle to enhance it's defensive position. The Germans managed to blend their concrete additions into the fabric of the castle, leaving us with the building we see today.

These days the castle is a huge tourist attraction. See the Jersey Heritage web site.

Mont Orgueil\Gorey Castle, Jersey

Mont Orgueil\Gorey Castle
Saint Martin

Mont Orgueil at the Jersey Heritage web site.

Photographs courtesy of Martin Russell

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Millom Castle on the At Risk Register

At long last, it looks as though Millom Castle may finally be getting some consolidation work done on its ruins. The North West Evening Mail reports that a list of works has been draw up that would hopefully secure the castle ruins for future generations.

Check the link for the full North West At Risk Register.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Pooley Bridge, Dunmallard Hill

Dunmallard Hill
Near Pooley Bridge

From the summit of Hallin Fell some three and a half miles to the South, Dunmallard Hill can clearly be seen at the Northern tip of Ullswater. This is a spectacular tree covered multivallate hill fort with an enclosure at the very top. This defended enclosure measures around 92 by 39 metres, and is surrounded by a stone faced bank some three metres high and nine metres wide.There is also a ditch, one metre deep and nine metres wide.

Above. Close up of Dunmallard Hill from Hallin Fell. 

There are records regarding a tower somewhere in the vicinity of Dunmallard Hill, but there is no archaeological evidence to suggest that this tower, dated from around 1317, would have been situated at the summit of this hill fort.

Above. Dunmallard Hill at the Northern tip of Ullswater.

Above. Thomas Machell's sketch of the hill and tower.

J.F. Curwen considered the summit of the mound to be the site of the tower, and gave the licence to crenellate as that granted to William de Dacre in 1307. He also considered that this site was eventually abandoned by the Dacres in favour of the castle at Dacre, a few miles to the North. 

The tower is mentioned in the Wardrobe Accounts of Edward II "assigned to the same (William de Dacre) by Antony Persaigne on the King's behalf to guard the peel of Dunmallok with ten men at arms  and ten hobelars and to receive yearly as his fee by that agreement for the custody £160.5s " 

Check this link for some photos of the fort and Maiden Castle.

And of course, some information and photos from Julian Copes' The Modern Antiquarian.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Balmangan Tower, Nr Borgue

Balmangan Tower
Near Borgue
Dumfries and Galloway

My first new site since visiting Scarborough Castle back in May of this year, this was a real treat. Balmangan Tower sits in the garden of a farm house, and probably dates from the late 15th or early 16th century. 

All we have left today, is what looks like the lower portions, the ground floor, of a rectangular tower, measuring some 20 by 16 feet, with walls at this level, of 4 feet thick.

Traditionally the home of the McLellans of Bombie, it may have been abandoned in favour of more comfortable accommodation across the Dee estuary in Kirkcudbright. The door way visible in the facing wall, gives way to a vaulted basement, which in turn leads onto a wheel stair in the North East corner of the remains. There is also the remains of a single dumb bell shaped gun look in the South West wall. The tower can be viewed from the road that runs along the front of the house.

Borgue Old House, Borgue

Borgue Old House
Dumfries and Galloway

Situated less than a quarter of a mile the East of the tiny village of Borgue, the ruins of this once great house can be viewed easily from the adjacent road, the B727. 

Research on the internet appears to show that the house has been on the Buildings At Risk Register  since about 1992. There seems to have been promises of consolidation work by the owners, but a 2011 inspection of this ruined building, appeared to show that little or nothing had been done to slow down its slow demise or repair any seriously damaged parts of the building.

A date stone originally from the house suggests a build date of 1680. It is basically an E shaped structure, with the original hall flanked by two wings at the South East and South West angles. A third wing was added at a later date containing a wooden staircase. Check out this link for some great aerial photos of the site.

More information will be posted here as and when it comes to light.

Borgue Motte, Borgue

Borgue Motte\Boreland of Borgue
Near Kirkcudbright
Dumfries and Galloway

This is a large well preserved motte very much in the vein of the Motte of Urr. The earthworks lay just to the North of the A755 some three miles West of Kirkcudbright. I wasn't expecting to see such a spectacular earthwork castle to be honest. Even aerial photos don't do this site justice, so when I spied it in a dip in the surrounding fields and hills it was a great find. 

This is one of only a handful of Galloway mottes that can be reliably verified by written documents, as belonging to a specific this instance Hugh de Moreville. The Moreville family already owned huge tracts of land in Lauderdale and North Ayershire. The Morevilles will most likely have gained this area directly from the Crown or will have taken it from Uchtred who lost the Lordship of Galloway in 1160. Either way, the establishment of such a huge motte would have been a 'hard to ignore' feudilisation of the surrounding area.

Overall, this site is slightly smaller than the Motte of Urr, but the motte itself is larger, standing to some seven metres above the surrounding fields. The summit measures in the region of 35 by 25 metres, and is built up over a naturally occurring rocky outcrop.

Any former bailey area appears to have long since vanished....perhaps ploughed out. Certainly, from aerial photos, there is no evidence of the remains of any bailey. There is a similarly sized circular area to the South of the motte that may have been the bailey, but it is very faint now.

Sometime around 1200, the Lordship of Borgue passed to the de Campania family, which may account for the appearance of smaller mottes at Barmagachan and Roberton, both still visible today.