Secrets of a Medieval Castle | Chepstow Castle

2 Jul 202231:45
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TLDRJoin Kevin Hicks of the History Squad as he explores the historic Chepstow Castle, situated on the border of England and Wales. Discover the castle's intricate defensive mechanisms, including portcullises, machicolations, and murder holes. Learn about the unique Middle Eastern design influence and the misconceptions surrounding the castle's features. Hicks also delves into the castle's history, from its origins as the first stone-built castle in Britain commissioned by William the Conqueror to its role in the English Civil War. Experience the castle's grandeur and strategic importance as you tour through its great hall, kitchens, and the mysterious postern gate.

  • 🏰 Chepstow Castle is a favorite of Kevin Hicks and is located on the border between England and Wales.
  • πŸ“ The castle features a unique design element from the Middle East, likely introduced by crusaders, involving a platform and a door with a tight turn for entry.
  • 🏹 The castle had defensive features such as machicolations for dropping objects on enemies and murder holes for shooting.
  • πŸšͺ The castle doors were reconstructed by the British Army in the 1960s, with the original doors still present inside.
  • πŸ’‘ Chepstow Castle did not have a moat due to the natural barrier of the River Wye and the presence of a ditch.
  • πŸ› οΈ The castle's construction involved innovative techniques, such as filling rooms with soil to support arches during construction.
  • 🍲 The kitchen area provides insights into medieval cooking practices, including a large pottage bowl and storage for food supplies.
  • πŸ›‘οΈ The castle's great tower, built on solid rock, showcases the use of Roman stone and is considered the first stone-built castle in Britain.
  • 🎯 The castle's strategic location on a cliff made it difficult to attack, with multiple layers of defense and a commanding view of the River Wye.
  • πŸ›οΈ The earl's chamber reflects the living conditions of the medieval era, with a refurbished attempt to recreate its original appearance.
  • πŸ•΅οΈ The postern gate served as a secret entry and exit point for spies and clandestine activities.
Q & A
  • What is the name of the YouTube channel run by Kevin Hicks?

    -The YouTube channel run by Kevin Hicks is called the History Squad.

  • Which castle does Kevin Hicks consider his favorite of all time?

    -Kevin Hicks considers Chepstow Castle as his favorite of all time.

  • What is the significance of the design of the entrance to Chepstow Castle?

    -The entrance design of Chepstow Castle was influenced by Middle Eastern architecture, likely brought back by crusaders, and it features a tight turn for wagons, adding to the castle's defensive capabilities.

  • What were the functions of the machicolations and murder holes at the top of Chepstow Castle?

    -Machicolations and murder holes were defensive features that allowed the castle's defenders to drop objects onto enemies or shoot at them from above.

  • Why didn't Chepstow Castle have a moat surrounding it?

    -Chepstow Castle did not have a moat because the water would have simply flowed down the cliff into the River Wye beside it. Instead, it had a ditch around the castle.

  • What is the purpose of the put lugs on the doors of Chepstow Castle?

    -The put lugs were used to secure the castle doors when the portcullis was down, allowing only limited opening of the doors and enhancing the castle's security.

  • What historical event took place in the kitchen area of Chepstow Castle?

    -The last person to be killed in action during the English Civil War was killed in the kitchen area of Chepstow Castle on May 25, 1648.

  • How was the great tower of Chepstow Castle constructed?

    -The great tower was built directly on the solid rock of the cliff, which allowed for a rapid construction. It utilized a large amount of Roman stone from nearby ruins, and its arches were supported by filling the room below with soil during construction.

  • What is the significance of the arrow slits in Chepstow Castle?

    -The arrow slits provided narrow openings for archers to fire arrows at attackers while remaining protected. They were an essential part of the castle's defensive architecture.

  • What is the function of the postern gate in Chepstow Castle?

    -The postern gate served as a secret exit and entrance for the castle, useful for spies and sneak attacks, and it was concealed by a structure in front of it.

  • How did ships turn around in the river near Chepstow Castle during medieval times?

    -Ships would sail in on high tide, anchor, and unload supplies using rowboats. A large jib from the castle would lower nets, and men would hoist the supplies up. As the tide went out, the ships would lift the fore-anchor and the receding tide would turn the ships around, allowing them to be swept back out to sea.

🏰 Introduction to Chepstow Castle

Kevin Hicks introduces Chepstow Castle as his favorite, highlighting its strategic location on the border of England and Wales. He describes the castle's unique entrance design, which originated from the Middle East and was brought back by crusaders. The video begins at the castle's gatehouse, noting the missing parts and the medieval defensive features such as machicolations and murder holes. The conversation then shifts to the castle doors, which were remade by the British Army in the 1960s, and the original doors' intricate design and functionality are discussed.

🏚️ Exploring the Castle's Interior

The tour continues with an exploration of the castle's interior, including a room that might have served as a temporary prison or storeroom. The kitchen area is examined, with evidence of a pottage bowl and the site of the last person killed in action during the castle's history. The video also delves into the castle's sanitation system, with a guarderobe (toilet) that emptied into the river and served as a drying room for clothes. The cellars are explored, revealing the castle's food storage and a unique stone bridge construction technique.

🌊 The Castle's River Control and Boats

Kevin discusses the castle's control over the river traffic, explaining how bowmen and gunners could defend against ships. He describes the process of how ships turned around using the tide and the castle's jib. The video also covers the castle's cellars, where food was stored, and the impressive architectural techniques used to build the arches and the great hall above them. The tour ends with a look at the great hall, noting its historical significance and the damage it suffered during the civil war.

πŸ›‘οΈ Defensive Features and the Earl's Chamber

The focus shifts to the castle's defensive features, including the great tower, which is the first stone-built castle in Britain. The video explores the tower's construction, using Roman stones, and its significance during the medieval period. The earl's chamber is highlighted, showcasing how it was refurbished to resemble its original state. The tour also uncovers a hidden trap in the middle bailey and musket loops from the English Civil War.

🏰 The Great Tower and Castle Extensions

The great tower, the original and oldest part of Chepstow Castle, is explored, revealing its historical importance and the use of Roman stones in its construction. The video discusses the tower's role in the castle's defense and its connection to William Marshall. The tour continues through the castle's extensions, noting the various changes and additions made over the centuries, and the strategic defensive positions the castle offered.

🏹 Civil War Damage and River Defense

The impact of the civil war on Chepstow Castle is examined, with a focus on the damage to the curtain wall and the subsequent rebuilding efforts. The video describes the castle's artillery defenses and the strategic placement of musket loops. The tour concludes with a look at the castle's rear entrance, which includes a drawbridge and portcullis gates, and the postern gate used for secret entries and exits.

πŸŽ₯ Final Thoughts and Tour Wrap-up

Kevin concludes the tour of Chepstow Castle, expressing his admiration for the castle and inviting viewers to support his YouTube channel and Patreon community. He encourages viewers to engage with the content and offers a link for those interested in becoming Patreon members.

πŸ’‘Chepstow Castle
Chepstow Castle is a prominent historical site in Monmouthshire, Wales, known for being the oldest surviving stone-built castle in Britain. In the video, it is described as the narrator's favorite castle, and the tour highlights its various architectural features, historical significance, and defensive mechanisms.
Crusaders were medieval warriors who participated in the Crusades, a series of holy wars sanctioned by the Latin Church. In the context of the video, the design of Chepstow Castle's entrance is attributed to the knowledge that crusaders brought back from the Middle East, indicating the castle's architectural influences.
A portcullis is a vertically sliding gate made of wood or metal, traditionally used as the outer gate of a castle or fortress to provide additional security. In the video, the portcullis at Chepstow Castle is mentioned as a significant defensive feature, with the original doors and portcullis still present within the castle.
πŸ’‘Murder Holes
Murder holes are openings in the ceiling of a castle's gate passage or corridor, through which defenders could drop objects or pour liquids onto attackers below. In the video, the murder holes at Chepstow Castle are mentioned as part of the castle's defensive architecture, allowing inhabitants to attack enemies from above.
πŸ’‘Great Tower
The Great Tower at Chepstow Castle refers to the original stone-built structure, which is considered the first stone castle in Britain. It was commissioned by William the Conqueror and constructed using stone from local Roman ruins. The Great Tower is a central point of interest in the video, showcasing the castle's historical and architectural significance.
πŸ’‘Civil War
The term 'Civil War' in the context of the video refers to the English Civil War, a series of armed conflicts and political disputes between the Parliamentarians and the Royalists from 1642 to 1651. The video mentions damage to Chepstow Castle during this period, indicating the castle's role and the impact of the conflict on its structure.
πŸ’‘Guard Room
A guard room in a castle was a space designated for the guards to stay and be on duty, typically located near the castle's entrance or other strategic points. In the video, the remains of a guard room at Chepstow Castle are discussed, providing insight into the castle's defensive operations and the living quarters for those who protected the castle.
πŸ’‘Postern Gate
A postern gate is a small, unassuming door in the defensive walls of a castle or fortress, often used for secret or secondary entries and exits. In the video, the postern gate at Chepstow Castle is highlighted as a secret way in and out of the castle, used for espionage and sneak attacks.
πŸ’‘River Wye
The River Wye is a significant river in Wales and England, and it played a crucial role in the strategic positioning of Chepstow Castle. The video emphasizes the river's importance for the castle's defense, as it provided a natural barrier and a means of transportation.
Battlements are the defensive parapets on the walls of a castle, consisting of alternating high sections (merlons) and low sections (crenels) that allowed defenders to shoot at attackers while remaining protected. In the video, the battlements of Chepstow Castle are discussed as part of its defensive architecture, providing a vantage point for archers and musketeers.

Chepstow Castle is Kevin Hicks' favorite castle of all time, located on the border of England and Wales.

The castle's entrance features a gatehouse with missing parts, hinting at its historical evolution.

Crusaders returning from the Middle East influenced the castle's design, bringing back architectural knowledge.

Chepstow Castle originally had wooden machicolations and hoardings for defense purposes.

The castle's portcullises were operated by stone counterweights, as it did not have a moat.

The castle doors, remade by the British Army in the 1960s, still function and showcase the original design.

Put lugs were used to secure the castle doors, a feature that extended into the guard room.

The castle contained a guarderobe, a toilet that emptied directly into the River Wye.

The 'dungeon' at Chepstow Castle might have served multiple purposes, including as a temporary prison or storeroom.

The kitchen area of the castle reveals the site of the last person killed in action during the English Civil War.

Chepstow Castle controlled river traffic with its strategic positioning on the River Wye.

The castle's great tower, the first stone-built castle in Britain, was commissioned by William the Conqueror in 1067.

The great tower was built quickly using Roman stones from nearby ruins.

The castle's defenses included a sophisticated system for turning ships around using the tides.

The original Chepstow Castle doors are preserved and display signs of centuries of use.

The earl's chamber reflects medieval living conditions and has been refurbished to show its historical appearance.

The middle bailey of the castle was a self-contained town with workshops and living quarters.

The castle's defenses were so effective that it was difficult for attackers to penetrate its narrow passages.

Chepstow Castle's postern gate served as a secret entry and exit point for spies and stealthy movements.

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