29 May 2009 - Deal (Deal Castle), England
Deal castle is one of the most impressive forts built by Henry VIII between 1539 and 1540 as an artillery fortress to counter the threat of invasion from Catholic France and Spain. It is shaped like a Tudor rose, being perfectly symmetrical, with a low, circular keep at its centre. Around the circumference of the keep are six bastions, with a further series of six bastions in the curtain wall, one of which serves as the gatehouse. All the outer walls of the castle and bastions are rounded to both provide strength and to deflect shot more efficiently than flat walls. Over 200 cannon and gun ports were set within the walls and the entire structure was completely surrounded by a very deep, wide moat.
Deal Castle - Revolutionary castle design
The castles were built to a revolutionary design being intended to engage in short, violent action against an invading enemy rather than to withstand long sieges. They were built low to provide the minimum target the ship's guns while offering a clear view for their own guns. They had no flat or angular surfaces as rounded walls would deflect most cannon balls without damage.
Deal Castle - Gun platform
The basic design has a hollow stone central keep in the form of a cylinder with 14 feet thick walls and a well of water at its base. Inside there was basic living accommodation and gund positions at the top as in this photo. Semi-circular lunettes, or buttresses were built against the circular wall of the keep and were provided with strong platforms on which the heavy guns were mounted. The entrance door is studded with 1200 bolts to deflect the axes of any invader and, above it, are the 'murder holes' from which quicklime or missiles would be dropped onto attackers.
Deal Castle - Sloped gun platform
The gun platforms are sloped to reduce the recoil effect of the guns when fired. As well big guns, Deal is also equipped for close quarter defence, with no less than 145 embrasures for firearms. The fort guarded the sheltered anchorage of 'the Downs' - the stretch of water between the shore and hazardous Goodwin Sands.
Deal Castle - Dry moat I
The castle looks very low from some distance and vulnerable to scaling but this photo shows the wide moat which was dug around the castle to increase the height of the walls, making Deal truly formidable.
Deal Castle - Dry moat II
The foreign invasion that Deal was built to defend against never materialised, but the Castle saw hard fighting during the English Cicil War (1648). It was briefly captured by Royalist forces and was besieged twice by Parliamentarians, only surrendering after the bloody repulse of a relief attempt.
Deal Castle - Entrance to the castle
The entrance door is studded with 1200 bolts to deflect the axes of any invader.
Deal Castle - Murder holes above the entrance
Above the entrance are the 'murder holes' from which quicklime or missiles would be dropped onto attackers. Today, the whole of the castle can be explored, from the storerooms including where gun powed was stored and copper is the only metal used to prevent sparks. This, the other rooms and the captain's residence can all be visited and the history of Deal Castle understood.