1105 The Ivy on Corfe’s Tumble

‘You know… I walk my dog here every day and I’ve never noticed that before’

I turn from a huge block of limestone masonry. Part of the corner of something…pitched at a strange angle.. embedded in the earth.

I see a man on the path beside North Castle Field and behind him, in the distance, Steve and Dave walking up and down….

Doing the geophysical survey of Norden Roman settlement.

‘There’s another one in the river’ I reply.

‘Yes, I spotted that one…I guess it’s the time of year. The leaves off the trees, not much bramble’

‘To be fair, we’ve cleared much of the ivy off, in the last few weeks. NT’s commissioned a digital survey of the whole Castle and we want to include all the blocks of tumble around it’

‘I’m surprised it’s still in one piece’

‘The Purbeck stone… well this Burr Stone… case-hardens with time. Starts off quite soft for the stonemasons to work but over the centuries becomes, stronger until weathering has little effect. This pink lime mortar between the blocks of stone … Jeff the mason told me long ago… it’s the best in the Castle.. King Henry I had a top builder create his Keep…..1105 … they say he made it to imprison his older brother Robert…to stop him claiming the Kingdom.’

‘So what’s it doing down here’

‘It tumbled down the hill and landed here…..The huge King’s Tower, the Keep’,

‘Yes, the highest building at the top of Castle Hill’

‘It was undermined during the English Civil War. Parliament captured Corfe by treachery and once the King’s men were defeated their old stronghold was wrecked. A lot of digging and some gunpowder and the walls came tumbling down’

‘These pieces are huge.. however many tons… and you wouldn’t have wanted to be in the way when this one rolled down the hill and bounced across the river’

‘Definitely….I’m told, that back in the 1860s, half the Dungeon Tower fell and the locals said it seemed like an earthquake in Corfe Village…. in 1646, when they demolished Corfe Castle, we can only guess about …the sensations, sounds and spectacles… well they would have been extraordinary’

‘And all these years it’s been here, hidden by ivy’

‘Now its uncovered again it seems hardly changed since it fell 380 years ago. They knew how to build in 1105’

He nodded and said goodbye, continuing his walk towards the village.

I needed to look for something. I knelt down and crawled under the leaning ashlar face of this upper corner of this fallen chunk of Norman tower… far from where it was supposed to be ….when first constructed 900 years ago.

Our photogrammetric survey might enable us to virtually put the whole building back together on a computer screen. I imagined the various pieces rising up to the Castle hill top again.

I moved aside the ivy….I’m sure I saw the carving here 35 years ago…ah yes.. there it is ….how curious… what was the reason for this random piece of decoration.

Were they using stones from an earlier building?

2 thoughts on “1105 The Ivy on Corfe’s Tumble

  1. Always impressed by the chunk of the castle thats slumped, but never knew there were escapees. Hope we can find out where the tumbles fitted asre where the carving was in relaion, but i suspect a puzzle for another day

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