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CastleUK Blog
September 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 castle, hall and motte, are more sites from the east side of up north, this time it's County Durham and Northumberland to people above Scotch Corner.

August was again castle hunting time, with a couple of nights at Woodlands Manor Hotel near Bedford.
Well done Bedford Borough Council, in passed visits to the town we'd parked the smart next to the castle mound, a very handy car park but when driving to it, it couldn't be found things had changed, so we ended up in a multi-storey which are not my favourite parking spots. I'd been sent a new picture of the mound, so I knew it had been cleared and faced in stone but my memory and pictures of the site, are of a sad unloved and forgotten overgrown mound. On walking down the High Street and turning on to The Embankment, the first thing you notice is an open space with a good looking motte in the middle of it, one or two trees but the mass of overgrown vegetation had gone. It's a big old mound, flat-topped and now its easy to walk round the base and get to the top, where there's the outline of the site of a possible shell keep and a viewing platform, overlooking the river. Next to the motte there's a nice model of how the castle may have looked, with a couple of information panels dotted about, it's all good stuff. Then I found out where the car parks at Castle Lane had gone to and the answer was car park heaven, after 40 years of looking after part of the castle, there work was done. Unknown to most people, they had been covering and protecting surviving lower walls of the great hall and adjacent structures in the inner bailey, which are now on permanent public view in a small park west of the motte.
It's all very well done and I take my hat off to Bedford for doing it, I can never understand why castle sites in towns and city's are ignored, when they can and do bring in lots of money. We castle hunters don't add up the cost of the passion and we'll go to great lengths to view any castle big or small, this I know because this is me and there's many others like me. I don't see many hunters at the sites but you can always see where they've been, I say it on the first web page, to every castle there is a path but I should also add broken fence, wall or a hole in the hedge, if they interrupt the path, castles were made by people, for people.

Click on the pictures, for more information.

Eltham Palace Wallpaper
Eltham Palace, OS/177 TQ 424-740 Greater London England, is this months wallpaper.
The picture was taken in April 2009, when we went to walk in the footsteps of Kings. The view is of the south wall of King Edward IV 15th century Great Hall, which was saved from demolition in 1828, by an early preservation campaign in the local newspaper and Parliament.
Of course I wanted to look at the Great Hall and the spotter wanted to look at Eltham Hall, the Courtaulds 1936 house. In this new wing, the principal rooms have been restored and some of the original furniture has been re-created from 1937 Country Life photographs, it looks and truly is stunning and that's saying something from a 15th century nut.
Lonkins Hall - Nafferton Castle
Lonkins Hall, OS 88/NZ 072-657 Northumberland England.
Was originally an early 13th century earthwork and timber enclosure fortress, founded by Philip de Ulecotes, constable of Chinon. King John never granted a license for Nafferton Castle to be built and when Richard de Umfraville complained it could be a danger to his castle at Prudhoe, its timber palisades and hoardings were removed.
Trees restrict the view of the castle from the road but as always there is a path to the site, from the Whittle Dene lay-by, nice site better viewed in winter, just watch out for the steep drop on the east side.
Prudhoe Castle
Prudhoe Castle, OS 88/NZ 092-634 Northumberland England.
Is possibly a late 11th or early 12th century earth and timber ringwork fortress, founded by Robert de Umfraville. Commanding the end of a ridge with a steep slope to the north, the castle is isolated by a massive outer ditch, an outer bailey and an inner ditch. In the early to mid 12th century, the inner timber defences were replaced by a stone curtain wall, flanked by a single storey rectangular gatehouse. The site is owned by English Heritage and is open, Thursday to Monday April to September 10:00-5:00pm.
Don't be like us, I run this site but never check when castles are open and we turned up when it was closed. We were not on are own and somebody noticed the castle doors were open, so in we all went, couldn't pay or show our cards because there was no one there. So about 6 to 10 of us were having a great time, looking round, taking pictures, when after about 15 minutes some people from English Heritage come out of the Georgian manor house. They had finished their meeting and wanted to lock the gates, so we all had to leave but good on them for not telling us to go straight away. Fantastic castle, go take a look but pick a day when it's open, you get longer inside that way.
Ryton Motte
Ryton Motte, OS 88/NZ 151-649 County Durham England.
Is a medieval earthwork motte and bailey fortress, built above a fordable point of the River Tyne. On the well-defined flat-topped motte which was previously interpreted as a Bronze Age tumulus, are traces of a very narrow trench.
The site is in the churchyard and is freely accessible in daylight hours. Nice motte here but again it's better viewed in winter, the trees hem it in and make it hard to track the layout.

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