Castles In England Essay

4867 words - 19 pages

Castles in England

Bodiam Castle is situated beside the River Rother in East Sussex. Sir
Edward Dalyngrigge, a Sussex knight, founded it in the late 14th
century. It was originally designed as a coastal defence, as invasion
from France was a threat at this time. A manor house was actually
fortified on the same site as Bodiam castle, symbolising a transition
from a traditional medieval castle to a comfortable manor home, which
was strengthened in the event of attack in this case.

The site on which Bodiam Castle was built has several geographical
advantages, as can be seen by exploring the castle and its
surroundings. Firstly, it has very clear, long-distance views for
miles around once a person is situated at the top of one of its
towers, which is obviously a defensive advantage. As there is a river
so close by, Bodiam Castle was provided with a constant supply of
freshwater, and its own moat, which surrounds it. The moat would have
been useful in hampering enemy invasion, and making the castle walls
impossible to scale. On viewing what is today the River Rother,
however, there is evidence that is has changed somewhat over many
hundreds of years. As the banks are today are large and very steep,
this suggests that the river may once have been a lot wider, even up
to twenty metres across. The pillbox very close to the castle shows
that the site was good for defence even up to the time of the Second
World War.

The castle itself was built strategically near to the coast. It is not
apparent why just by visiting, but when Bodiam castle was built, there
was a serious threat of invasion from neighbouring France. From this
vantage point, however, Bodiam Castle would be well placed for attack,
and as it was near the sea, it would be more difficult for enemies to
invade from land. The treeline behind the castle would also be an
advantage in defence.

These facts about the site of Bodiam Castle open up a lot of questions
about castle development. For instance, we cannot tell just by
visiting whether all castles were built in similar locations by the
coast, or if they all had moats. A historian studying castle
development could only speculate on the depth of the moat, also. We
can learn what some geographical advantages might be for a castle
built in the 14th century, but we also do not know whether all castles
were built for defence just by looking at Bodiam.

There is seemingly good reason for Bodiam Castle to have been built
with such strong fortifications. During the late 1300s, many problems
arose and it was a time of uncertainty. During this time areas of
Southern England were ravaged by the Black Death. Also, during the
1380s a rebellion occurred in the form of the Peasants Revolt, during
which riots broke out all over England. Added to this was the threat
of invasion from...

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