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CastleUK Blog
March 2009
The blog page, a place where I can record and then archive my monthly updates and what's new in our hunt for castles UK.
This months castles are all from Berkshire, in the Newbury area.
February, well what do or can you
do in February, for me not a lot, the days get dark early, no time off work and heavy snow which hung around like last weeks wet washing. Lots of time to work on the website and for once, I've update the site, written my blog and sent out the update email all on the 1st. The high light for me was that Time Team dug other castle, two in two months that's spoiling us and this one was a good watch, The Garrison, Radcot, Oxfordshire, its just the sort of site I love. Earthworks in a field, nothing there most people would say but they found a Roman ditch, the foundations of an 11th or 12th century tower and an English Civil War artillery earthwork, showing that the nearby ford and later bridge had been defended for 2000 year. I hoped they would keep up the good work but last week they were back digging not Roman again and not finding much, this weeks has got to be better, Hermit Harbour this can't be Roman can it and no it wasn't but I fell asleep in front of my coal fire and missed most of it, I'll have to watch it again when its replayed on Saturday. Busy now working out which castles to see on our next castle trip, were off to Hay-on-Wye in the Marches, castles by the bucket full, I'm going to fill my boots, plus the castle spotter wants to look in all the book shops in Hay.
Click on the pictures, for more information.
Ewloe Castle Wallpaper
Ewloe Castle, OS 117/SJ 288-675 Flintshire Wales, is this months wallpaper.
The picture was taken in early January 2008, on our trip to North Wales, where we revisited some of our favourite castles and some new ones. I was standing on the great rampart, on the lip of the valley which shields the castle and this is the first view you get, when you approach from the south. For me this is a strange site, with a mystical feeling to it but maybe its the time of year we visit, its always been in winter, the castle is always misty and wet. Built on a narrow ridge, against the steep slope formed by the valley of the Wepre Brook, the top of the tower is only just level with the ground to the south, its no place to put a castle, it shouldn't be there, its only defence is that you can't see it. Yes you can just hear them saying in 1277, we'll be alright hiding behind this bank, King Edward I can't find us here, who did you say, 'The Hammer', RUN!
 Donnington Castle
Donnington Castle, OS 174/SU 461-691 Berkshire England, is a small, late 14th century stone fortified courtyard house, founded by Richard Abberbury the elder. Semi-rectangular in plan and flanked by four small round angle towers and two square interval towers, its east gate was protected by a portcullis but the D-shaped west end lacked protection. The
site is owned by English Heritage and is freely accessible in daylight hours. For me this graphic image of the gatehouse at Donnington says English Civil War, it's the view they always use but its a pity that the Parliamentary guns demolished the house. This is a must see site, high on the hill with great views, you can see why it was so important to both sides.
Hamstead Marshall Castle 1
Hamstead Marshall Castle 1, OS 174/SU 429-666 Berkshire England, is a circular medieval unfinished earthwork motte, founded in the civil war, in the reign of King Stephen. For two months in 1153, King Stephen besieged Hamstead Marshall Castle 2 which was being held for the Empress Matilda, by John Marshal. The site is visible from a public footpath, which passes the castle from the church of St Mary. Why 3 mottes in one spot, its a castle hunters dream, pity you can't walk the lot but you can get to this one, its not often you get to walk the ground of King Stephen, couldn't miss that!
Hamstead Marshall Castle 2
Hamstead Marshall Castle 2 , OS 174/SU 422-668 Berkshire England, is a late 11th or early 12th century damaged earthwork motte and bailey fortress, possibly founded by Hugolin Stirman. Standing near the site of the original village, the motte encased by a ditch, is crowned by a heel-shaped summit and to the north is an irregular rectangular bailey platform. The site is visible from a public footpath, which passes the castle from the church of St Mary. You can get a good view of this one from the fence but watch out the grounds a bit boggy.
Hamstead Marshall Castle 3
Hamstead Marshall Castle 3, OS 174/SU 421-669 Berkshire England, is possibly an early 13th century earthwork motte and bailey fortress, founded by Gilbert Marshal. Built away from the high ground to the south, the oval motte is encased by a once wet ditch and to the north-west are traces of a low ring banked bailey. The site is visible from a public footpath, which passes the castle from the church of St Mary. You can get a view from the fence but the best view is over the wall from the road by the bend.

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