From Hill Forts to Gunpowder – the Story of Castles presented by Robin Leleux

  • 04 Mar 2021
  • 3:30 PM - 4:30 PM (UTC-00:00)
  • Zoom Meeting


Talks are presently held via easy to use Zoom video link[

This was last given as a slide show and has now been converted to a digital format for the benefit of our u3a Talks Programme. Robin writes:

When the Roman general Vespasian, later a renowned Emperor, stormed the impressive Celtic hill fort of Maiden Castle in Dorset he did so without the benefit of gunpowder. Nevertheless evidence shows he made a thorough job of the defenders. The reason? The Romans had better artillery. This is the constant theme in the story of fortifications from the often intricate banks and ditches of the Celts, through the motte and bailey castles of the Norman invaders and the concentric castles of Edward I in his conquest of North Wales, to the Elizabethan defensive ramparts of Berwick-upon-Tweed.

This will have to be a bit of a skip through nearly 1500 years of (mainly) British history as we look at how impregnable a fortification seemed until someone had a better idea about launching successful assaults. So new ideas of defence were incorporated and so it went on. The massive walls of Berwick-upon-Tweed could withstand gunpowder (not that hostile Scots ever put it to the test) but a look at famous castle ruins like Corfe or Bridgnorth shows just what gunpowder could do.

I shall illustrate the presentation throughout with my own scanned colour slides supplemented by plans and contemporary illustrations. There will be time for questions and discussion before we close.

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