Page images



are agreed that the ruined tower which stands on the ridge above the 15th-century castle of Langeais is the work of this count,' a venerable fragment of a 10thcentury keep.2

Unfortunately only two sides of this tower and the foundations of the other sides remain. The walls are only 3 feet 6 inches thick, contrasting strikingly with the castles of the 12th and 13th centuries, where the usual thickness is 10 feet, which is often exceeded. This points to a date before any great improvement had taken place in assaulting-machinery. The masonry is what French architects call petit appareil, very small stones, but regularly coursed. There is no herring-bone work. The buttresses, of which there are five on the front, certainly suggest a later date, from the size of the ashlar with which they are faced, and from their considerable projection (3 feet on the entrance wall, 2 on the front). There is no sign of a forebuilding. There are only two storeys above the basement. The floors have been supported on ledges, not on vaults. The doorway, a plain round arch, with bar-holes, is on the first floor;" it is now only a few feet above the ground, but probably the basement has been partially filled up with rubbish. The first storey is quite windowless in the walls which remain. There are no fireplaces nor any loopholes in these two fragments. In the second storey there are three rather small windows and one very large one; they are round arched, have no splay, and their voussoirs are

1 See Halphen, Comté d'Anjou au xiième Siècle, 153.

2 The building of Langeais was begun in 994. Chron. St Florent, and Richerius, 274.

3 It somewhat shakes one's confidence in De Caumont's accuracy that in the sketch which he gives of this keep (Abécédaire, ii., 409) he altogether omits this doorway.

✦ Measurements were impossible without a ladder.

[ocr errors]

of narrow stones alternated with tiles. In these details they resemble the Early Romanesque, which in England we call Anglo-Saxon.


The Tower of London and Colchester keep are some seventy or eighty years later than that of Langeais, and if we attempt to compare them, we must bear in mind that Langeais was the work of a noble who was always in the throes of an acute struggle with a powerful rival, whereas the Tower and Colchester Castle were built by a king who had reached a position of power and wealth beyond that of any neighbouring sovereign.' Langeais is but a small affair compared with these other two keeps. The larger area, thicker walls, the angle towers with their provision of stairways, the splayed windows [of Colchester] the fireplaces, the chapels with round apses, the mural gallery [of the Tower] cannot be definitely pronounced to be instances of development unless we have other instances than Langeais to compare with them. De Caumont mentions Chateau du Pin (Calvados), Lithaire (Manche), Beaugency-surLoire, Nogent-le-Rotrou (Eure et Loire), Tour de l'Islot (Seine et Oise), St Suzanne (Mayenne), and Tour de Broue (Charente Inf.), as instances of keeps of the 11th century. These should be carefully examined by the student of castle architecture, and De Caumont's statements as to their date should be verified. Not


1 It is well known that William the Conqueror left large treasures at his death.

2 The keep of Colchester is immensely larger than any keep in existence. Mr Round thinks it was probably built to defend the eastern counties against Danish invasions. Hist. of Colchester Castle, p. 32. Its immense size seems to show that it was intended for a large garrison.

3 Cours d'Antiquités Monumentales, v., 152, and Abécédaire, ii., 413-431. De Caumont says of the keep of Colchester, "il me parait d'une antiquité moins certaine que celui de Guildford, et on pourrait le croire du douzième siècle" (p. 205), a remark which considerably shakes one's confidence in his architectural judgment.



having had the opportunity of doing this, we will only ask what features the keeps of Langeais, London, and Colchester have in common, which may serve as marks of an earlier date than the 12th century.1 The square

[ocr errors]


or oblong form and the entrance on the first floor are common to all three, but also to the keeps of the first three-quarters of the 12th century. The absence of a forebuilding is probably an early sign, and so is the extensive use of tiles. The chapel with a round apse which projects externally only occurs in the keeps of London and Colchester, and in the ruins of Pevensey keep. The absence of a plinth is believed by Enlart to be an early token. But Colchester has a plinth and so has the Tower. It is, however, very possible that in both cases the plinth is a later addition; at Colchester it is of different stone to the rest of the building, and may belong to the repairs of Henry II., who was working on this castle in 1169; while the Tower has undergone so many alterations in the course of its

1 As only the foundations of Pevensey are left, it gives little help in determining the character of early keeps. It had no basement entrance, and the forebuilding is evidently later than the keep.

2 The Tower had once a forebuilding, which is clearly shown in Hollar's etching of 1646, and other ancient drawings. Mr Harold Sands, who has made a special study of the Tower, believes it to have been a late 12thcentury addition.

3 Tiles are not used in the Tower, but some of the older arches of the arcade on the top floor have voussoirs of rag, evidently continuing the tradition of tiles. Most of the arches at Colchester are headed with tiles.

The room supposed to be the chapel in Bamborough keep has a round apse, but with no external projection, being formed in the thickness of the wall. The keep of Pevensey has three extraordinary apse-like projections of solid masonry attached to its foundations. See Mr Harold Sands' Report of Excavations at Pevensey.

"In the course of the 12th century, the base of the walls was thickened into a plinth, in order better to resist the battering ram.” (Manuel d'Archæologie Française, ii., 463.) The keep of Pevensey has a battering plinth which is clearly original, and which throws doubt either on this theory of the plinth, or on the age of the building.

eight hundred years of existence that it is difficult to say whether the rudimentary plinth which it still possesses is original or not.

Wide-jointed masonry is generally recognised by architectural students as a mark of the early Norman style. Even this is a test which may sometimes deceive; certain kinds of ashlar are very liable to weather at the edges, and when the wall has been pointed at a comparatively recent period, a false appearance of wide joints is produced. Moreover, there are instances of wide-jointed masonry throughout the 12th century. The use of rubble instead of ashlar is common at all dates, and depends no doubt on local conditions, the local provision of stone, or the affluence or poverty of the castle-builder. We are probably justified in laying down as a general rule that the dimensions of the ashlar stones increase as the Middle Ages advance. There is a gradual transition from the petit appareil of Fulk Nerra's castle to the large blocks of well-set stone which were used in the 15th century.1 But this law is liable to many exceptions, and cannot be relied upon as a test of date unless other signs are present. The Tower of London is built of Kentish rag; Colchester keep of small cement stones (septaria), which whether they are re-used Roman stones or not, resemble very much in size the masonry of Langeais. It is of course unnecessary to say to anyone who is in the least acquainted with Norman architecture that all Norman walls of ashlar are of the core-andfacing kind, an internal and an external shell of ashlar, filled up with rubble; a technique which was inherited

1 It is well known that blocks of huge size are employed in Anglo-Saxon architecture, but generally only as quoins or first courses. See Baldwin Brown, The Arts in Early England, ii., 326.



from Roman times in Gaul, but which was not followed by the Anglo-Saxons.1


The presence or absence of fireplaces and chimneys is not a test of date. Colchester is certainly an early keep, but it is well provided with fireplaces which appear to be original. These fireplaces have not proper chimneys, but only holes in the wall a little above the fireplace. But this rudimentary form of chimney is found as late as Henry II.'s keep at Orford, and there is said to be documentary mention of a proper chimney as early as 816 in the monastery of St Gall.3 The entire absence of fireplaces is no proof of early date, for in Henry II.'s keep at the Peak in Derbyshire, the walls of which are almost perfect (except for their ashlar coats) there are no fireplaces at all, nor are there any in the 13th-century keep of Pembroke. It is possible that in these cases a free standing fireplace in the middle of the room, with a chimney carried up to the roof, was used. Such a fireplace is described by the poet, Chrestien of Troyes, but no example is known to exist.*

But apart from details, if we look at the general plan of these four early stone castles, we shall see that it is exactly similar. It is the keep-and-bailey plan, the plan which prevailed from the 10th to the 13th century, and was not even superseded by the introduction of the keepless castle in the latter century. The motte-and

1 Baldwin Brown, "Statistics of Saxon Churches," Builder, Sept. 1900. 2 Mr Round gives ground for thinking that this keep was built between 1080 and 1085. Colchester Castle, p. 32. 3 Piper's Burgenkunde, p. 85. 4 Schulz, Das Hofische Leben zur Zeit der Minnesinger, i., 59. Grose writes of Bamborough Castle: "The only fireplace in it was a grate in the middle of a large room, where some stones in the middle of the floor are burned red." He gives no authority. Antiquities of England and Wales, iv., 57.

5 "The type of castle created in the 10th century persisted till the Renascence." Enlart, Manuel d'Archæologie, ii., 516.

« PreviousContinue »