The confluence of paths near Allaman is a feature of its history — and one could say that this lakeside location is unsurprisingly in a coveted place, for who would not want to be situated in the midst of where the news travels. In the modern day, this is also a sizeable private property, which can be used for functions; historically, Allaman was almost what Geneva is today: a symbol of peace and common prosperity.
From the lakeside approach to Yvoire, the château appears as if out of the water. The small peninsula it is built upon is perfect for holding this keep, although the location mostly leaves our imagination to build a thriving picture of this town and the castle here. This is suitable as, in ancient French tradition, this is a private settlement and public approaches are severely restricted.
Prangins is a perfect example of resilience in the face of destruction, that most human of qualities which counteracts the also very human sense of destruction. The structure one sees today is from a new owner’s endeavours after 1723 yet medieval settlement of this site dates at least to the 1090’s — medieval for this was a site of relevance already for those fabled conquerors from the south, the Romans, who have left a very visible mark on nearby Nyon.
Rolle is probably the most memorable of the places I visited in my one/two days of exploration in rural Vaud and Geneva, lands mostly in the ownership of Savoie in the olden days. What made this place spectacular was its simplicity and real sense of defensibility. A lot of the other châteaus in this area are far more of the ‘recent country house’ style, even if their origin is in the Middle Ages. Continue reading “Château de Rolle”
Coppet is a private site — though it acts as a museum in the summertime — and therefore one’s freedom of movement on the grounds is restricted at times, or at least some entryways are blocked. The easiest solution on the December day I found myself visiting was to walk around the perimeter of the structure as much as I could.
Annecy was interesting. There are not many places I have seen that this much effort has gone into constructing towers which are large over… something else. I am not sure what, but from whatever side one approaches this hilltop keep, towers of the kind one imagines in fiction rather than real life loom large. It could be that this is the style from the Île-de-France that the lords of this place took over, but I haven’t been and so cannot confirm. Yet!
Nyon was my first Swiss (Vaudois? Savoyard?) castle that I experienced, and as such it was a perfect entry to the local scenery. A wonderfully compact construct in a Roman-era settlement which still towers above the local landscape, I was especially lucky as I could also experience the sense of Nyon disappearing into the landscape when I took the watertaxi across Lake Geneva.
Framlingham is one of the most iconic places in the East Anglian medieval landscape; mostly this is because it is one of the very few places that has survived into the modern era relatively unscathed, but it is also an impressive structure — even if it is not as large as some other castles or not as well-defined as others. Continue reading “Framlingham Castle”
Mileham is not well known at all though it is one of the largest sites in Norfolk. A former Norman motte and bailey castle (two baileys again), and an eye-in-training for medieval sites will distinguish the various typical features easily by walking around the grounds. It’s actually quite spectacular: I didn’t have much of a clue of what I was coming to see here, and when I arrived and started moving about, the various moats in between structures, the different baileys stood out very clearly. I think in this sense it might be one of the best places to get an idea what Norman human landscaping meant. Continue reading “Mileham Castle”
I really enjoyed visiting North Elmham. The site can be summed up as the vision of two very different people, Bishops Herbert de Losinga and Henry le Despenser. The former built a stone chapel (to replace earlier timber edifices) in the early 12th century and the latter converted it into a castle approximately in 1388. One on top of another, the ruins don’t really allow for easy differentiation but I guess that a bishop’s castle residence is as holy as his chapel. Continue reading “North Elmham Priory & Castle”