Visit Wales and its 641 castles – a mixture of gothic, medieval, and Victorian styles

With its rolling hills and numerous royal conquests, there’s no place where history comes alive in such a lush setting as it does in Wales. Everywhere you look, the evidence of kings, queens, conflict and empire call to you. There are more than 600 castles – 641 to be precise – so even without trying you’ll come across a few. Even the country’s young capital has one – right in the heart of the city. Cardiff Castle mixes medieval and Victorian gothic architectural styles to thrilling effect.

These proud battlements are a historical legacy that is testament to a tumultuous past, and to the indomitable spirit of the fighting Welsh – these castles were built for a reason.

When the Romans withdrew, the separate Welsh kingdoms were left to squabble and spar for centuries until the Normans landed in the 11th century. But the Welsh proved unwilling subjects even then. It was not until Edward I – the famous subduer of William “Braveheart” Wallace – launched his war of subjugation two centuries later that Wales finally fell to England’s boot.

Edward consolidated his victory with the impressive castles you can still visit today. Most are in excellent repair, with walls as solid now as when their first stones went in the ground.

Beaumaris – the biggest castle Edward built and a truly imposing military fortress. It is located on the island of Anglesey, separated from mainland Wales by the Menai Strait, which is home to Prince William in his duties as a Royal Air Force search-and-rescue pilot.

William is most intimately connected to the most majestic of the Unesco castles, the stunningly preserved Caernarfon Castle. This is where his father, Prince Charles, was invested as the Prince of Wales – and where, one day, William is likely to follow suit.

 

Keep reading: The Guardian – Discover the proud history of Wales

 

 

Continue reading Visit Wales and its 641 castles – a mixture of gothic, medieval, and Victorian styles

Vampire bones dug up in Bulgaria

Bulgarian archaeologists are showing off two centuries-old skeletons that they say were pinned down through their chests with iron rods to keep them from turning into vampires — a trend that was all the rage in medieval Europe.

The “vampire” skeletons were excavated recently near the Black Sea town of Sozopol, according to reports from The Associated Press and AFP. Bozhidar Dimitrov, head of Bulgaria’s National History Museum, was quoted as saying that corpses were regularly treated this way in some parts of the country until the beginning of the 20th century.

About 100 similar burials have been found in Bulgaria over the years.

Bulgarian archaeologist Petar Balabanov has found a number of nailed-down skeletons near the eastern town of Debelt, at gravesites dating as far back as the 1st century. According to custom, the bodies had to be pinned down just in case they tried to rise from the grave.

via MSNBC

 

Of the many explanations for this Vampire myth, the one I found most interesting is the plague. During which thousands of people were dying with no explanation, and that sounds an awful lot like all the vampire movies!

Even the symptom of the plague, the buboes, could look like some nasty bite…

Continue reading Vampire bones dug up in Bulgaria

Complaints Medieval monks scribbled in the margins

“Now I’ve written the whole thing: for Christ’s sake give me a drink.”

“Oh, my hand.”

“Thank God, it will be dark soon.”

“I am very cold.”

“As the harbor is welcome to the sailor, so is the last line to the scribe.”

 

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// Photo via Muffet