Sunday, 18 November 2012

Portus Adurni ( Portchester Castle)

After blitzing the seasonal shopping yesterday ( how could it have taken 8 hours??) in Chichester it was time to head home.

WE'd come up on Friday night and had to abandon the motorway and take the old A27 route instead. Spotting the signs to Portchester Castle I realised that I had never been there despite many years of living not that far away.

With the idea planted it seemed sensible to detour on the way home.

Portchester Castle is understood to have been built in the later part of the 3rd century CE  by the Romans and is considered on of the best preserved Roman forts in Northern Europe. There are tantalising but unconfirmed hints that in fact it is earlier still.

Lots of the original Roman stone and brickwork survives alhough it has been extensively repaired and augmented over the last 1700 years or so.

This is a seriously imposing construction with a medieval castle now taking pride of place in the middle of the walls. Like most castles this was based on earlier castles and grew and evolved over the years.

The Keep is huge. And solid looking. It was used for a gaol for prionsers of war on more than one oaccaion - the last time being in the late 19C for French prioners from the Napoleonic war.

Conditions inside must have been grim. Additional wooden floors were inserted above the medieval hall to house them all and the wall paintings and grafitti they left can still be seen.

It is a long long way up the Keep and the last bit is by a rather narrow spiral stairway. Fortunately it was very quiet when we visited but I think the last part could be potentially "very interesting".

The view from the top though over St Mary's Church ( 12C) which is within the fortifications was worth  a few rather scary moments.

That is the modern city of Portsmouth on the

Would have been nice to see the reputed equine ghost though....
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