National Geographic : 1947 Jul
The National Geographic Magazine shows clearly in the etching. In the Great Hall Sir Walter Raleigh was tried.* A square tower and a chapel (c. 1392) are the oldest surviving buildings of Dunnottar Castle, near Stonehaven in Scotland (Plate V), but the intrepid Scottish leader Wallace took an earlier castle on the same site in 1297. Harlech Castle, in Wales, begun in 1286, is superbly situated on a rocky promontory rising 200 feet above the sea (Plate VI). Three times this stronghold was attacked and taken after sieges lasting many months. Owen Glendower beat vainly against its impregnability in 1404 until finally, when the garrison inside had been reduced to 21 men, the fortress was forced to surrender. Glen dower then established his daughter, wife of the pretender Edmund Mortimer, and her children there. When Glendower had been beaten in the field, his son-in-law defended Harlech for eight months. He finally died of starvation, and the castle yielded. Its stubborn defense against the Yorkist siege of 1468 inspired the Welsh national anthem, March of the Men of Harlech, in which its name lives forever. In Britain's Civil War, Harlech further maintained its reputation for stalwartness and strength, but was finally taken over by the Welsh brother-in-law of Cromwell. One of the Oldest Buildings in Britain Dover Castle (Plate VII), dating from the 12th and 13th centuries, contains the Pharos (c. A. D. 50), a relic of the original Roman fortress. Constructed of Roman bricks and tufa, the Pharos is one of the oldest standing buildings in England. Miraculously, the castle escaped serious damage in World War II, although Dover was under continual bom bardment. The solid grandeur of these great fortresses impresses the beholder. Look at Tantallon Castle, in East Lothian, at the mouth of the Firth of Forth (Plate VIII). Standing right on the cliff a hundred sheer feet above the sea, it offers only one approach by land-a narrow neck of turf with sea on three sides. Little short of treachery could reduce such a fortress in the days before modern artillery. Dating from the 14th century, it was the seat of the Douglases. James V, as a youth, besieged the castle in 1528. A force of 20,000 men, well equipped with artillery and a battering ram, came against it. But his 20-day siege proved un successful, for the thick walls resisted all attack. In 1639 the castle was yielded to the Cove nanters. In 1651, when General Monk at- tacked it, heavy guns were used to breach the wall. The defenders retreated to the central tower and held out until permitted to surrender on good terms. It fell into ruins in the 18th century. Arundel Castle is another of the few in this series which are inhabited and in perfect re pair (Plate IX). One of the oldest in Britain, it was founded to guard the Arun River's gap here in the chalky South Downs. Much of the present building is modern, and many additions have been made. In early days the seat of the Fitzalans, Earls of Arundel, it passed to the Howards, Dukes of Norfolk, in the 16th century. The castle stands above the little town of Arundel, in Sussex. In the siege of 1643, Sir William Waller broke through the defenses in the town and attacked the castle. Seventeen days of heavy siege finally forced the defenders to capitulate. After the battle Arundel stood a ruin until the tenth Duke of Norfolk began to recon struct it in 1786. At tremendous cost it was restored to more than its original magnificence. To make way for modern barracks, most of the historic buildings of 13th-century Stirling Castle (Plate X) have been sacrificed, but the Chapel Royal, rebuilt in 1594, still exists beside a small garden from which a flight of steps ascends to the Douglas Room. In this room in 1452 James II stabbed the Earl of Douglas and flung his body out the window. The country about Stirling is rife with drama, for near by is the field of Bannockburn where Robert Bruce and his little army of Scots defeated a host led by Edward in 1314. Stirling Castle had an important role in British history. In 1304 it was captured by Edward I of England after a siege of three months, but ten years later it was retaken by Bruce after Bannockburn. James II, and probably James III and James IV, were born here, and in the High Church the infant Mary Queen of Scots was crowned. Key fortress of Scotland, Stirling was a mighty factor in its defense. Kenilworth, Home of Romance The history of Kenilworth (Plate XI) is wrapped up in one of the greatest periods of England. In its prime it ranked among the most important fortresses in the realm. Commanding gently rolling country on a tributary of the Avon, Kenilworth was founded by Geoffrey de Clinton, Treasurer of Henry I, about 1120. In 1562 Queen Elizabeth presented the * See "Winchester, England's Early Capital," by Frederick Simpich, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, January, 1941.