Dover Castle

  • Created by: KSScout
  • Created on: 05-03-19 16:39


  • 22 miles from France
  • Good route to trade + communicate with mainland Europe
  • Defence of port + England (Military purpose)
  • Status purpose
  • On cliffs of Dover
  • First began as moat that was dug out
  • Built to act as penance for the death of Thomas Beckett (1170)
  • Display Henry II's wealth after embarrasing visit from Louis VII in 1179
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Change through Physical Features

Iron Age

  • Britain named 'land of the dead'- few people came over
  • Previous town that traded- across sea
  • Parapet- low protective wall
  • Rampart- defensive wall ditches


  • Roman pharos (lighthouse)
  • Guided traders + Roman Navy across English channel
  • Originally two present
  • 2,000 years old
  • Altered over time- Acted as ammuntition storage during Napoleonic Era
  • Port named Portus Dubris
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Change through Physical Features


  • St. Mary of Castro originally built in 1000AD but restored since then
  • Importance of religion
  • Saxon burgh used to exist there- evidence of large Anglo-Saxon cemetry + Church replaces earlier building

William's Norman Conquest

  • Burnt down previous fortifications at site
  • Motte + Bailey built in 8 days
  • No visible remains
  • Built out of clay- used to make floor of current castle after it collapsed
  • Other Motte + Bailey castles at Romney, Dover, Canterbury, Pevensey + Berkshire
  • Close to France + on path to London
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Change through Physical Features


Henry II's Reign (1179-1188)

  • Keep, outer + inner bailey being built
  • 1179-1188, castle rebuilt by Maurice the Engineer
  • Modern design- 1st concentric castle in Europe
  • Most expensive build
  • Completed by King John
  • Cost nearly £6,000
  • Keep, walls + towers built out of Caen stone (from Normandy)
  • Lack of lighting + cold

1204, King John gives money to complete the castle

1215, Magna Carta battles

1216-1217, siege exposed Northern vulnerable defences but castle prevailed

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Change through Physical Features

Henry III's Improvements

  • Tunnels built by Hubert-de-Burgh
  • Curtain wall made- 5 conjoined towers to maximize for flanking fire over widest area w/ arrow slits + crenallations
  • St John's Tower constructed
  • 1220s, northern gateway blocked + replaced by constable gateway (most elaborate castle gateway in country)
  • Defences improved- Entrance had drawbridge + portcullis (grooves still remain)
  • 1240, Arthur's hall + King chambers built
  • 1250s, earth bank around church + lighthouse topped with stones
  • Fitzwilliam gateway built on eastern side
  • Round towers to prevent undermining as harder to collapse

Napoleonic Era

  • 1803, underground barracks opened- housed at peak, 2000 soldiers + officers
  • 7 tunnels dug into cliffs
  • 1702-1713
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Change through Physical Features

World War I

  • Anti-aircraft guns + search lights on keep roof
  • Lookout station over harbour

World War II

  • Operation Dynamo planned in tunnels
  • Tunnels used as HQ
  • 500 bed hospital built into tunnels

The Cold War

  • Secret location of nuclear bunker

English Heritage

  • Took over from 1984-present
  • Used as tourist attraction + educational site
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The Anglican Empire + Family Problems

  • Henry II, King of England + controlled land in France as well as England
  • Married Eleanor of Aquitane (1152)
  • Conquerered land in Ireland + Europe
  • His sons mistrusted each other + hated idea of Henry dividing land amongst them (Henry,Geoffrey, Richard +John)
  • Disputes 1173,1181 + 1184
  • Attempt for inheritance for John led to protest from Richard + Phillip II of France
  • Eleanor sided with children
  • King of France supposed to marry Eleanor, but 8 weeks before marriage, Henry married her
  • Son, John, went against him + hastened his death on 6th July 1189
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  • King Louis VII (France), King William (Scotland) + Count Phillip of Flanders were powerful neighbours
  • They launched invasions in his lands from South + North
  • Sons + Eleanor rose in rebellion
  • Had conflict w/ church + TABOC

Napoleonic Era Continued...

  • Castle turned into a prison- 1,500 kept here + evidence of their capture on the walls (graffiti)
  • 1799 flat roof constructed to hold heavy guns
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Further Context

  • 1170 Thomas Beckett murdered in Canterbury Cathedral
  • Canonised in 1173
  • 1189 Prince Louis visited Dover + Henry was embarrassed
  • Henry richest ruler in Western Europe
  • Built Dover to show wealth in England + act as penance to repair relationship w/ church
  • 1172 miracles happening where Beckett died
  • Attracted Kings + Princes (1180s)
  • 1179 King Louis' son became ill + travelled to Canterbury to pray
  • Castle built at Dover as Saint's death overshadowed royal authority
  • Shrines made at Canterbury
  • Henry not against the "cult"/ church- Gillingham's imterpretation + made to impress visitors
  • Cost 40% of King's annual income - most ever spent on one castle
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Military Interpretation- Allen Brown

  • Dover was the "key of England"
  • Modern gatehouses
  • Unique by whole century + replicated in other castles e.g. Rochester Castle


  • Acess to arrow slits + roofing area
  • Surrounded by ring of walls
  • Three floors + walls 17-21 feet thick
  • Three staircases, well that descends to bottom of cliffs
  • Drawbridge in forebuilding- shows control

Inner Bailey

  • 14 spaced flanking towers along inner curtain- enables cross-fire
  • Buildings in inner bailey would have been wooden
  • Old holes + indentations in walls show fortifications previously there
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Status Interpretation (Gillingham)

Ground Floor

  • Bread oven + slanted windows to help smoke ventilation
  • Kitchen + storeroom
  • Wide stairs for servants to carry large platters of food up stairs easily

First Floor

  • Lower Chambers set up as communal living area for nobility + guests
  • Few beds + furniture
  • Latrines on every floor (modern design), built into walls
  • Lower hall set as banqueting hall
  • Knights serve food + drink
  • Lower chapel for pilgrims + less worthy visitors
  • Open fires/ braziers in rooms
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The Siege- 1216

  • King John lost majority of inheritance after Philip Augustus stole it
  • English Civil War- Group of Barons rose against the King and set up in London + invited Prince Louis of France to assume the crown (eldest son of Philip)
  • 21st May 1216, Louis lands +  King John flees
  • Takes Rochester, Canterbury, Winchester + London 2nd June
  • Dover damaged already: Old gateway + parts of wall destroyed
  • De Burgh defended castle with large tree trunks to barricade French out
  • French left cold, tired + hungry

Improvements after the Siege

  • 1220s, Constables Gate w/ moat, drawbridge + 5 protective flanking towers
  • Concentric walls (castle within a castle)
  • Medieval Tunnels: Link to outer Spur to delay attacks so people could get to St. John's Tower for high ground control
  • 1250s, stone wall around St Mary of Castro and Roman Pharos + earth bank
  • Outer wall completed
  • Block Northern gateway solid
  • Round towers after square towers were undermined by French
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Status Interpretation

Second Floor

  • Connecting rooms thought to be King's chambers
  • Large room for bed chambers + seperate room for business and scribing
  • King's Hall where court would be held- throne, benches + tapestries show lavish lifestyle
  • Deep well at entrance
  • Greet visitors at top of stairs (hierarchy)
  • Chapel of Saint Thomas Beckett- for special guests


  • Rochester + Newcastle, narrow staircases to stop attackers from fighting down the stairs + defenders at the top as an advantage
  • Dover has wide staircases
  • 4 white stripes on outisde of keep
  • 3 floors in keep
  • Different types of stone used
  • 25 metres tall- keep
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Thomas Beckett

  • Good friends w/ Henry +  Thomas rode together often
  • Notorious for luxurious lifestyle + Banquets
  • Not pious, so shocked when became TABOC
  • Different prosectuion methods for Church + normal people
  • Henry wanted all people punished if they broke the law + not protected by Church if religous
  • Became pious + helped the poor
  • Sided w/ Pope over Henry who hoped that Thomas would put Royal Authority over the Church
  • 1164 fled in exile to France through fear
  • Henry says "won't someone rid me of this troublesome Priest!"- four knights killed in Canterbury Cathedral (1170)
  • Henry guilty + whips himself and walks barefoot to Canterbury after Pope tells him to pay penance
  • Canonised 1173
  • Cult developed around Saint's death + risk of anti-monarch
  • Religion overshadowed royal authority at Canterbury
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Royal Authority Interpretation (Gillingham)

Second Floor

  • Henry not religious but had small window where he could look upon the services + conduct business above
  • Chapel of Thomas Beckett on same floor as King's quarters so could keep control over pilgrims
  • Idea of castle construction for purpose of passing pilgrims on way to Dover
  • Two chapels
  • Private room next to chapel

First Floor

  • Pilgrims pay homage to shrine of Thomas Beckett by leaving money or candle
  • Walk only to bottom of stairs
  • Drawbridge stopped unwanted visitors
  • Could monitor passing pilgrims
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Similarities w/ other Sites

  • Henry III's royal residence at Tower of London, which has similiar style + shape of keep at Dover
  • Henry I built previous keeps at Rochester + Norwhich (1110-35)
  • Henry II built castle at Orford, Sussex w/ all french fashions as from France
  • Design of Dover repeated in other castles later on
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Military Interpretation (further)

  • Outer walls- 9 towers but may have been 20
  • Forebuilding had open roof + drawbridge to keep- allowed archers to fire down directly onto invaders
  • Keep had turrets where archers perched
  • Rounded towers harder to undermine + deflect arrows
  • Avranch Tower- 3 corssbow slits that covered large area of 20 yields
  • Keep 6.5 metres thick
  • Many guard rooms
  • Well descends below sea level in case of sieges (400ft)
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  • Attracts 400,000 visitors a year
  • Troubadour music in guest hall
  • 140 people worked on the recreation
  • £2.45 million spent
  • 2 years of research
  • Hard to interpret feel + quality of items
  • Furniture: King's bed, benches, lanterns  + tables
  • 'Mappa Mundi' (12th Century) recreated by using gold and lapis lazuli
  • Only surviving map of the world in the 12th century and based on Sawley map
  • Used artwork from Durham Cathedral as influence for art in Dover
  • Lion symbol of Henry in courtroom
  • Norman shield/trophy above fireplace
  • Close copy of King's wardrobe + calligraphy
  • Paintings of various things made as accurately as possible
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