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Biography and Memory: Sandal Castle and the English Civil War

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Rachel Askew*
Affiliation:
Department of Archaeology, University of Sheffield, UK

Abstract

The post-medieval castle is often neglected in English archaeology, with most analyses focusing on whether the castle was built for status or defence, a debate which has become known as ‘the Battle for Bodiam’. However, in the English Civil War between 1642 and 1651, many castles were fortified either for King Charles I or his rebellious Parliament. Although the fortification of castles during this period is often attributed to acts of desperation and a lack of more suitable defences, an examination of the Royalist occupation of Sandal Castle in West Yorkshire demonstrates how this view is simplistic. The decision to fortify Sandal can be directly linked to the Battle of Wakefield in 1460, when Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, the father of King Edward IV and Richard III, was killed outside its walls. This episode heavily influenced subsequent events, culminating in the occupation of the castle at the outbreak of the English Civil War. The importance of the past during this later conflict is reinforced by the faunal and artefactual assemblages, and the locations in which they were found (and consumed). The complexity of the social discourse at Sandal challenges current approaches in castle studies and highlights the need for a biographical approach which sees the interpretation and interaction of the castle through time and space as far more important than the motivations behind its initial construction. Such a way of proceeding complements existing methodologies but also relies on material culture and history to create a subtler interpretation of these complex buildings.

En Angleterre les châteaux d'époque postmédiévale font rarement l'objet d'études spécialisées En effet la plupart des recherches se concentrent sur la question de la fonction que remplissaient ces établissements (prestige ou défense) dans un débat qui a acquis le qualificatif de ‘Bataille de Bodiam’. Cependant de nombreux châteaux furent fortifiés pendant la Guerre civile anglaise entre 1642 et 1651, soit pour le compte du roi Charles I, soit du côté des forces parlementaires. Quoique la fortification des châteaux de cette époque soit souvent attribuée à un effort désespéré ou à un manque de sites adéquats, l'examen des niveaux d'occupation royaliste de Sandal Castle (West Yorkshire) révèle que ce point de vue est simpliste. La décision de fortifier Sandal Castle est à mettre en relation directe avec la Bataille de Wakefield en 1460, quand Richard Plantagenet, duc de York et père des futurs rois Edouard IV et Richard III trouva la mort devant ses murailles. Cet épisode a largement influencé les évènements ultérieurs, culminant avec l'occupation du château au début de la Guerre civile anglaise. L'importance que l'on accordait au passé au cours de ce dernier conflit se trouve confirmée par l'analyse des ensembles d'objets et d'ossements d'animaux ainsi que par leur distribution. La complexité du discours social observé à Sandal remet en cause les démarches classiques en castellologie et met l'accent sur la nécessité d'entreprendre une étude biographique axée sur l'interprétation des interactions du château à travers l'espace et le temps, plutôt que sur ce qui a motivé sa construction initiale. Cette façon de procéder complète les démarches actuelles en faisant usage de documents historiques et des vestiges de la culture matérielle, dans le but de présenter une interprétation plus nuancée de ces établissements fort complexes. Translation by Madeleine Hummler

Die nachmittelalterlichen Burgen sind in der englischen archäologischen Forschung oft vernachlässigt. Die meisten Studien beschäftigen sich mit der Frage, ob Burgen als Statussymbol oder als Befestigung gebaut wurden; diese Debatte kennt man unter dem Ausdruck, Kampf um Bodiam‘. Jedoch wurden zahlreiche Burgen im Englischen Bürgerkrieg zwischen 1642 und 1651 entweder für das Heer des Königs Karl I oder für die Truppen seiner parlamentarischen Gegner befestigt. Obwohl die Befestigung der Burgen häufig auf Verzweiflungstaten oder auf den Mangel an geeigneten Anlagen zurückgeführt wird, zeigt die Untersuchung der königstreuen Besetzung von Sandal Castle (West Yorkshire), dass solch ein Standpunkt die Lage zu vereinfachend darstellt. Man kann den Entschluss, Sandal zu befestigen, direkt mit der Schlacht von Wakefield in Zusammenhang bringen; dort wurde Richard Plantagenet, Herzog von York und Vater von Eduard IV und Richard III, in 1460 vor den Mauern der Burg getötet. Diese Gegebenheit hat weitere Ereignisse stark beeinflusst und hat mit der Besetzung der Burg am Anfang des Englischen Bürgerkrieges ihren Höhepunkt erreicht. Die Analyse der Funde und der Tierknochen sowie die Verbreitung der Befunde bestätigen, dass die Vergangenheit im letzteren Krieg eine große Bedeutung hatte. Die Komplexität des gesellschaftlichen Diskurses in Sandal stellt gängige Ansätze in der Burgenforschung infrage und zeigt, dass eine biografische Bewertung, die die Auswertung einer Burg hinsichtlich ihrer zeitlichen und räumlichen Wechselbeziehungen begünstigt, ein größeres Gewicht beigemessen werden sollte. Solch ein Ansatz ergänzt bekannte Verfahren, beruht aber auch auf eine Untersuchung der materiellen Kultur und der geschichtlichen Überlieferung um eine feinere Deutung von komplexen Anlagen zu bieten. Translation by Madeleine Hummler

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © 2015 the European Association of Archaeologists 

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