5 Fantastic Fortifications

In Military History, Featured

If, like me, you spend a great deal of time irritating friends, family and co-workers then it’s probably a good idea to know where the nearest safe haven is. This helpful list should give you an idea of what to look out for so that you know which way to run should the rampaging masses come your way.

5 – Bamburgh - Saxon Fortress

My fondness for this Saxon Fortress is similar to the pride I feel when I make my own loaf of bread, or cobble together a small birdhouse. Outwardly it may not be the most beautiful, but it does the job and has a certain homemade charm.

FOR 80 - British Forts in the Age of ArthurIllustration: Fortress 80 - British Forts in the Age of Arthur

From the book – “Bamburgh was a British settlement long before the coming of the Saxons - traces of Iron Age activity have been detected in the craggy plateau on which the medieval castle now stands. In the 6th century AD this site was known as Din Guyardi, and probably served as a stronghold of a local British Rruler. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle entry for AD 547 claims that that in that year the Ida, King of the Angles established a fortress at Bamburgh, 'which was first enclosed by a stockade, and thereafter a wall'. In fact by that time the Angles had been occupying the area for the best part of a generation."

4 – Fort Moultrie – American Fort

Ah, symmetry. Well, in this case it’s more of a symmetry-ish situation. Either way, this American fort is rather pleasing to the eye, although probably less so if you were marching towards it.

FOR 6 - American Civil War (1)Illustration: Fortress 6 - American Civil War Fortifications (1)

From the book – “Fort Moultrie was a small coastal fortification, built on Sullivan’s Island to protect Charleston, South Carolina. Several version of the fort were built on the same site, but by the outbreak of the Civil War the walls of the Third System fortification were cracked, and sand blocked its line of fire over the harbour. After its capture by South Carolina militia, repairs were made, the sand was moved, and the guns in the fort participated in the bombardment of Fort Sumter.”

3 – Temple Mount and Antonia Fortress – Judean Fort

Whether defended by the Judean People’s Front or the People’s Front of Judea, this formidable fortress would surely be a tough nut to crack!

FOR 65 - JudeaIllustration: Fortress 65 - The Forts of Judaea 168 BC - AD 73

From the book – “On the north-western corner of the site, on the former site of the Baris (destroyed many years before this date), Herod erected the Antonia fortress, one of the most important in his kingdom, at some point after 31 BC. It’s four square towers, one of which was taller than the other, were situated at its corners and dominated the Temple. The interior of the fortress was designed and furnished as a palace… Its purpose was to withstand a siege from a hostile, as opposed to the threat posed by rebellious subjects. The fortress was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70.”

2 – Château Gaillard – Norman Castle

Surrounded by water, atop a rocky hill and with a moat surrounding it. I’d say this castle looks pretty secure.

FOR 18 - Norman Stone Castles (2)Illustration: Fortress 18 - Norman Stone Castles (2)

From the book – “Gaillard, the great castle built by Richard I in 1196-98, presented a formidable obstacle to an opponent. The only real line of approach was from the south, and here the attacker was met by a rock-hewn ditch and a triangular outer bailey that formed a large barbican to guard the main entrance. Richard used the latest circular towers, though the gate into this area is flanked only by a single tower…”

1 – Marienburg – Crusader Castle

Topping the list this week is the gargantuan Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork, also known as Marienburg.

FOR 11 - Crusader Teutonic (1)Illustration: Fortress 11 - Crusader Castles of the Teutonic Knights (1)

From the book – “This is a bird’s-eye view of the largest of the great brick castles beside the river Nogat. A wooden drawbridge, shown here in a raised position to allow boats through, spans the river. It is defended on the far side of the river by a barbican. The Lower Castle is on the left. This consisted of domestic buildings within a defensive outer wall and included such features as a granary, workshops, stables, bakery and a foundry. The Middle Castle consisted of three wings and the Palace of the Grand Master. One wing houses the infirmary. There were also rooms in the East Wing to accommodate guest crusaders, as well as a Summer Refectory, a Winter Refectory and a Grand Refectory…”

So there you have it. Five fortresses sure to keep you safe, whether you are facing angry relatives or bloodthirsty warriors.

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