Dover Castle A virtual tour
Dover Castle • Through the keyhole • Besiege the castle! • What’s my job?
Dover Castle Through the keyhole
Dover Castle Besiege the Castle!
Mission Impossible! In 1216 Prince Louis of France invaded England. All of south east England fell to his armies, only Dover and Windsor held out. Imagine you are a spy working for the Prince. Disguised as a medieval tradesman you manage to penetrate the Castle’s outer defences. Your mission is to find out how Dover Castle is defended and report back to Prince Louis without being captured by its constable Hubert de Burgh. Good luck!
Looking down the stairs from the entrance to the forebuilding
Supports for the drawbridge and slots for the counter-weights
Dover Castle Mission completed! Now you have to get out again!
Factoids Draw-bar hole: deep hole cut into the sides (or jambs) of the door into which a stout wooden beam could be thrust to secure the door.
Factoids • Drawbridges were heavy wooden platforms that spanned a pit or moat between the approach and the gateway. They were lifted using winding gear known as ‘a windlass’ or massive counter-weights.
Factoids Arrow Loops The only holes in the outer walls were arrow loops. They were too small for soldiers to climb through (especially in chain mail). There were three types: the single slit, the cross slit and the gun loop. The cross slit was designed for crossbows.
Factoids Defending the gateway The gateway would have been defended with a drawbridge and/or a portcullis. Look for grooves in the walls to show where they descended. Inside the gateway, above the heads of the enemy murder holes could be unplugged and stones or hot liquids such as tar poured down on the unfortunate attackers.
Factoids Henry II’s Keep The keep was begun in 1180 by the king’s architect, Maurice the Engineer. The total cost was £7,000 (nearly ¾ of the king’s annual income!) In 1185 work begun on the walls around the castle. There are two rings of curtain walls and this was the first time such imposing defences had been used in the West.
Factoids Draw-bars Look out for square shaped holes either side of doorways. This one is at the entrance to the forebuilding and there are more inside the entrance to the keep itself. Graffiti The Keep is covered with Graffiti. Much of it was carved by French prisoners of war when the Keep was used as a prison during the Napoleonic Wars.
Factoids The forebuilding The forebuilding comprises three massive towers. Inside it used to be open to the sky so the defending soldiers could rain arrows and missiles on their attackers from above.
Factoids Walls • The massive width of the walls in Dover Castle can be judged by measuring the distance between the inner and outer wall surfaces (or ‘skins’). • The walls at Dover are between 5.2 and 6.4 metres thick!