Review: This Sceptred Isle, Collection 1, Christopher Lee

This Sceptred Isle: Collection 1: 55BC - 1702: The Classic BBC Radio HistoryThis Sceptred Isle: Collection 1: 55BC – 1702: The Classic BBC Radio History by Christopher Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a delightful history, a lot more complex than I would have expected from my first impressions. There were some good inconsistencies that get promoted quite often (such as “The Unready”) which this series also delightfully corrected. Furthermore, the show included a number of illustrative stories of the time (such as the dialogue between Edward I and Roger Bigod on each others’ rights). Continue reading “Review: This Sceptred Isle, Collection 1, Christopher Lee”

Review: ‘In the Land of Giants’, Max Adams

In the Land of Giants: Journeys Through the Dark AgesIn the Land of Giants: Journeys Through the Dark Ages by Max Adams
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

High 2.5.

I think this work is too complicated to follow easily — it is not only a travelogue and narrative history but also stretches a bit into modern politics but more into archaeological descriptions. While individually all of these may be very enjoyable, the book was missing structure. Continue reading “Review: ‘In the Land of Giants’, Max Adams”

Framlingham Castle

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 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”

North Elmham Priory & 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”

Elsing Hall

Elsing is a tough one to write and think about, mostly because this place is privately-owned and still lived in. I went to take a quick look at the surrounding area and to see what’s visible of the main structures from the road and it really isn’t much. I have also decided to illustrate the surrounding landscape more than the building itself with the image here to preserve that place for it’s owners. Continue reading “Elsing Hall”

Review: ‘The Ancient Paths’, Graham Robb

The Ancient Paths: Discovering the Lost Map of Celtic EuropeThe Ancient Paths: Discovering the Lost Map of Celtic Europe by Graham Robb
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This could all be a complete fallacy and nothing in here be true, but there’s a limit beyond which one stops believing in coincidences and trust that this could have been an actual fact. ‘The Ancient Paths’ and the theories postulated here crosses that limit for me. Continue reading “Review: ‘The Ancient Paths’, Graham Robb”

Castle Acre Priory

Castle Acre is one of those places most people in Norfolk are slightly aware of and, yet, have perhaps never visited. If this is the case (or indeed if you are in Cambridgeshire or Lincolnshire) then one should do so at the first possible option, and let not even the promise of a rainy day hold you back. Such a day was exactly the one where I walked into the grounds of the former Castle Acre Priory, having never visited it before (much unlike the castle area itself where I’d been twice before). Continue reading “Castle Acre Priory”

Cambridge Castle

Cambridge is not well known for its fortification and it shouldn’t be. The castle here is long gone with bare marks on the ground where the earthworks used to be. Yet, visiting this site should be part of the regular Cambridge tour as I discovered on one of my recent forays into that city. Indeed, though I’ve been to the university town numerous times this was the first time for me to wander into the old castle “complex”, a term which I use loosely for the structures that originally dated from the Conqueror’s time. Continue reading “Cambridge Castle”

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