i capture the castle

stone head, richmond castleToday I visited Richmond Castle, an impressive pile of Norman rocks that clings to a cliff high over the River Swale.  It was built (or at least started) by a noble who fought for William the Conqueror and was granted the land in thanks.  Other than the 100 foot high keep (which was reroofed) the castle is in ruins, albeit extraordinarily picturesque ruins.  This being England where adults are expected both to take care of themselves and to maintain adequate control over their children and pets, I was pretty much free to climb on any pile of rocks that struck my fancy.   (No lie.  They post a few polite signs warning of any danger and otherwise assume you know your own limitations.)

The snow is still on the ground.  It’s not warming up enough to melt it, and what little melts freezes again.  They don’t plow or shovel or salt the walkways or stairs or anything else (they use something called “grit” which appears to be sand).   The castle is nearly 1000 years old.  The stairs are the usual medieval stairs: stone, narrow, unevenly spaced, very worn, slick on even the best days, often curved, occasionally with steep drops off one side.  Today they were also covered in ice.  Yet somehow I made it to the top of the keep, where in keeping with the general laissez-faire safety policy, there were no fences or safety rails or anything else between me and a very long drop.  It was lovely up there.

The little stone head was excavated on the castle grounds and is thought to be from a statue.  It’s about the size of a modest cantaloupe.

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~ by gun street girl on December 28, 2009.

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