Friday, 1 August 2014

Why Visit a Castle?

Oystermouth Castle
1. Because it's there
Don't you have any curiosity? Even if you know nothing about history, you can't ignore the heaps of stone, doorways, towers and underground rooms perched majestically on a hilltop.

2. Because it's a fun playground for the kids
Castle ruins are a great place for kids. They provide a climbing frame, hiding places, open spaces, towers, dungeons, and a great stimulous to their imagination, with tales of kings, knights, fair maidens, and great battles.

3. Because it's the embodiment of history
Here is tangible evidence of the past. The castles were built by the conquerors to keep the conquered in check. Who were they? Sometimes they changed hands several times. How and why? Sometimes they were damaged in battle, sometimes ruined on purpose. Why would they do that? Some were left to decay, some are still lived in today. This is history about real people and real places. People not so different from ourselves, when you come down to it.

4. Because it inspires the imagination
It's not just children who have great imaginations. Looking up at the ruins of Swansea Castle, which is right in the town centre, started me asking questions that led to my fascination with medieval Gower and the writing of my two books, Alina, The White Lady of Oystermouth and Broken Reed: The Lords of Gower and King John. Go on, admit it – don't you sometimes dream of being a fair maiden or a brave knight?

5. Because all of human drama has been within its walls
Loyalty, betrayal, kindness, cruelty, love, hate, friendship, conspiracy. Courage and strength of character, cowardice and every fault of humankind. Wives and children protected, and used as pawns. Brothers and comrades kept close, and pushed away. Whatever kind of stories you like, you will find them here.

I've written about most of the castles of Gower, and this summer I hope to visit them all and bring you first-hand updates.


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