Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Time Team at Hopton Castle

This afternoon's Time Team was fascinating - a dig at Hopton Castle, near Clun, in Shropshire. The Parliamentarian garrison of Hopton was massacred when it fell after a Royalist siege during the Civil War.

The massacre became notorious, at least in Parliamentarian propaganda. 17th Century Life and Times explains:

At Hopton castle in 1644 after repeated attacks the parliamentarian garrison of about 30 men finally surrendered. The prisoners where herded into the castle cellar, striped naked, beaten then taken to the moat where they were summarily executed by the by now drunken royalists.

For years after the parliamentarians would offer royalists troops "Hopton Quarter" only, in revenge, much like the "Madeburg Mercy" of the 30 years war.

As the Time Team dig made clear, Hopton was not really built for defence. It was a largely domestic, ornamental building that became the scene of real warfare. A less serious Civil War skirmish took place at the similar Stokesay Castle nearby.

And a report in the Ludlow & Tenbury Wells Advertiser last year told of plans to preserve the ruins at Hopton:

Hopton Castle Preservation Trust has just signed a contract with Conservation Building Services Ltd for repair work which will turn it from a dangerous and inaccessible ruin into a safe and interesting destination for visitors.

Work, which will start this month, will take about a year and will include repairing stonework, supporting crumbling arches and making a level floor for visitors.

There will also be a new entrance and some information about the history of the castle, its owners and its place in history.

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