Castle inside a castle - cool bananas
It has loads of different sections and this bit is inside another bit. Bet you're in awe of my technical knowledge aren't you?
It’s not often in this blog that I’ve actually talked about Jersey, but with the weather changing for the better and the daylight hours getting longer, the opportunities for doing a bit more exploring are ever increasing. Today our trusty cycles (and far less trusty legs) carried us to Mont Orgueil Castle in Gorey.
I’ve always liked castles. As a young boy there was never anything more disappointing than being told that we were going to be visiting a real castle, only to find out when we got there that it was nothing but an unnaturally steep slope with a flat patch of land at the top where once (apparently) a fortification had stood. I reckon my parents used the lure of a castle to drag me on many a hill-walk. The vitrified fort in Glen Nevis, Fort William is a great example. A good 45 minutes walk along forestry tracks - up hill all the way - I remember being sceptical even as we left the car. I mean, in my young mind, a fort and a castle were totally different. A fort is a fortification; and with a definition as vague as that it might only be a
Bob and his beloved castle
Look, I'm here... in front of a castle. Quick, take a photo to prove it...
wooden hut and some pointy sticks. I had no idea that vitrified meant the place had been burnt to the ground with such intense heat that the rocks had fused. In my mind the word “vitrified” conjured up some seriously impressive Camelot meets the Terminator imagery. So when we stood on a grassy hillock overlooking Glen Nevis and the realisation that this was the vitrified fort sunk in, I remember feeling truly robbed.
Castles on the other hand rarely disappoint. You know where you stand with a solid word like “castle”. Battlements, turrets, dungeons, moats, portcullis. That’s the stuff a young boy wants to see. That’s the stuff a much older boy wants to see as well. I want to be able to picture the castle besieged, the death, the violence, the reek and squall of battle. Whether the castle was ever actually besieged is beside the point. I remember reading that a good castle is one that is so intimidating that it is never attacked for fear it cannot be taken. A good castle therefore has presence. On this point I’d like to take the opportunity to have a pop at Edinburgh and Salzburg castles, both fascinating in
Or something. Not sure of significance of metal cow with red pants and lots of stick men climbing it - maybe I should have paid more attention in history classes.
their own right, but neither has been attacked and neither (in my mind) has a particularly sword slicing, arrow piercing presence. Both are just a bit too stately. To illustrate this point, I was once asked by an American tourist on Princes Street in Edinburgh which building the castle was? And to be fair to the poor bloke, let's be honest, it does look a bit like a large house sitting on a rock with spectacular garden walls.
Mont Orgueil on the other hand is one of the most impressive castles I’ve seen. It squats like an angry beast above Gorey harbour (the man who named Gorey must have been a castle nut as well). It’s got such presence that every so often you can see tourists at the harbour checking their arms and legs for stray arrows. When you walk in through the outer gatehouse you can’t help but look up to see that there’s no one above you with a bucket of boiling oil. The place is everything a castle should be.
What’s even better is that the Jersey’s National Trust haven’t gone mental with “Area Closed” or “Keep Out” signs like they tend to do
Ready for weddings, sacrifices or large candlelit dinners.
in a lot of English castles. They leave you to explore every nook and cranny of the building - and believe me there are plenty of them.
The castle must also win the award for Freakiest exhibit on the island. In one of the large halls, on the wall opposite the door you enter by is a massive holographic picture of our current monarch. As you walk round the room her eyes, and excessively protruding holographic nose, follow you round the room.
To top it off (in every sense of the words), on the highest tower’s battlements are two extremely powerful and much underused telescopes. Usually a tourist attraction would be pinching every penny they can from you by installing those telescopes where you pay 20p and can just about make out your own feet through the scratched lenses. But at Mont Orgueil you can use these Hubble-esque scopes to watch Pierre and Amelie settle down to Yorkshire hot pot in their flat on the outskirts of gay Paris. .
Anyway, that’s my bit done for Jersey tourist board. Mont Orgueil castle in Gorey - well worth a visit.
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