Monday, December 14, 2009

Time Team to show special on Dover Castle

The recent restoration of Great Tower at Dover Castle is the subject of a special Time Team programme, which will be broadcast in the United Kingdom on Saturday, December 19.

The castle has dominated the town and the White Cliffs since it was built in 1180 by Henry II to show off the best England could offer.

But it had become a shadow of its former self and in 2008 English Heritage decided to undertake a bold piece of restoration and recreate the rooms of the castle propelling it back to the world of King Henry II.

The hugely ambitious project brought together historians, designers and around 150 craftsmen. Everything was commissioned to be authentic, from the furniture and decorations to the books, ornaments and tapestries to provide a rare insight into life in the 12th century.

No one knew if it would work until it all came together in a few days before opening to the public and Time Team's cameras were invited behind the scenes to record the entire process.

"What you often see in modern castles is the bare bones that have been left, you see the stone, something rather bleak," said Professor Robert Bartlett, of the University of St Andrew's.

"The windows and traceries have often gone what you don't see are the hangings, the tables, the gold ornaments, the lights, the candles, the coverings, the rest of it.

"You don't smell the food, you don't hear the music. This is what would have been the effect if you were actually in those places as they were functioning as courtly centres. It must have been a complete riot of the senses."

English Heritage historian Paul Pattison said: "It was a massive spend, about £6,000 in the period 1179 to 1189."

"Now £6,000 doesn't sound a lot to us today, but to try to put that into contemporary context, it's like the spending on the Olympics. It's a massive, massive deal."

See our earlier articles for more information about Dover Castle:

Medieval Royal Palace at Dover Castle to Re-open

Dover Castle conference reveals insights into medieval landmark

Medieval Travel Guide: Dover Castle in England