The day started fairly early again but on this occassion it was to go down to the pubs dining room for the included breakfast. After bacon, eggs, toast, mushrooms and coffee we left the pub, turned right. We followed the direction of the river and walked around to the Oxford Castle.
Oxford Castle is made up of two sections - the hill or mot and the fortress. In 2003, excavations uncovered the castle ditch, part of the Norman castle and found 64 human skeletons, dating from the late 16th century. The mound dates to 1071 but prior occupation on the site exists.
Having paid the entry fee we waited in the fift show for our tour to start. Looking around the shop it was disturbing to see how much kitsch, touristy shit is for sale. The creepiest item was a caricature covered tea towel of William and Catherine. I didn't take a picture but it was turely one of the works bits of wedding junk I've seen.
Our tour guide arrived in period costume and introduced herself as Anne Green. A name I knew but couldn't place. She took us through a metal door and we entered a mid sized room. The room was used as punishment and once contained a water pump. Think in terms of a donkey in a yoke walking in circles and then replace the donkey with a man. You can see in the floor, the tracks from the many circuits made.
Anne Green led us up a narrow winding staircase and stopped inside the first room. The room was used as a cell and on occassion, accomodation for 60+ people. A terrible thought because it would have been dark, hot, cramped and incredibly smelly, as the only toilet option was literally the floor.
Legend has it that Princess Matilda, Henry I's only daughter, was beseiged in the castle by her cousin Stephen, who had seized her thrown. The legend goes on to say that during the winter, after fresh snow fall, Matilda, dressed in a white cloak and deer antler skates, scaled the wall and escaped across the frozen Thames. I don't know I believe this but who knows.
The castle, during the civil war refortified as a garrison but nearly 100 years later it is back in use as a prison, even though the state of dispair made it dangerous for human habitation I assume it must have been bad if it wasn't safe for prisones during this era.
Heading up more stairs we reache the roof. Should note this is after I let Angie out of the stocks in the previous room. On the roof or battlement I was suprised at how minimal the view was. It makes me wonder what the landscape looked like when it was originally constructed. I'm comparing this to Arundel and Windsor even though ther are the two biggest castles in the country. The size of a Norman castle against a Saxon town though would have been quite intimidating.
|View from the Battlements|
Angie and I went back down into the crypt to have another look and to see if anything else like that senstaion would happen again. While we were down there, my ears started to feel like they were going through a change in air pressure. It wasn't painful, just annoying and I didn't pay it much attention. We walked out of the crpyt and as soon as we did my ears cleared. I was interested to learn in the weeks that followed this visit, to learn that others have reported the same kind of feeling when in the crypt.
When you first enter the museum there are two sections. In the main hall are displays of dinosaurs, large crabs, birds, elephants and sculptures of some of the worlds greatest thinkers.
Now the Pitt Rivers museum itself is crazy and I love it. This museum is both the kind I like best and the kind I believe shouldn't have lasted so long. PRM goes against current museological thought on design but for my research, it works. The items, because of their exhibition style, are easily viewed by children and adults. The varied heights mean you have plenty to look at.
We stayed here at PRM until it closed at 5pm.