Pick up a piece about friendly, haunted, cutlery from DriveThruRPG:
Tintagel is something of an anomaly on many counts. It was never a militarily important location, and rarely was it a royal residence. It is seen as key part of Arthurian myth, but there is little suggestion King Arthur ever set foot there. It has been inhabited since Roman times, but the only fortifications which remain are harking back to something that never happened.
The great King Arthur was a man, and thus needed to be born and grow up. Before even that he needed to be conceived, and it is at Tintagel that that night occurred, at least according to Geoffrey of Monmouth. Uther Pendragon, Arthur’s father-to-be and King of All Britons fell in love with Ygrayne when he saw her at his coronation. But her husband Gorlois, the Duke of Cornwall was not happy about that and left, taking her with him. Uther used that as an excuse to go to war with Gorlois. There is no suggestion of Ygrayne’s position on the matter – the least worst option here is that she was receptive to Uther’s advances, which is the position Mary Stewart takes.
Gorlois led his campaign from a castle called Dimilioc, but he sent his wife to Tintagel as its location made it impossible to breach – Uther is told that three armed warriors could defend the castle against the entirety of Britain – why Gorlois didn’t choose to base himself out of Tintagel as well I don’t know! Regardless, Uther believed this claim, and so called for Merlin’s aid. He asked Merlin to magically disguise him as Gorlois so he could slip past the defences. Merlin worked his magic and created a potion to do the job.
Harlech. Now there’s a name to conjure with. One of the most famous castles in Wales if not the entire United Kingdom. In contrast to Bodiam last week, Harlech was the site of conflict from before it was built up until its partial destruction in the English Civil War. There is even a song about one of the sieges of the place! Despite going to university just up the road in Bangor i am sad to say I never managed to visit Harlech.
The Castle and its Construction
It’s a small castle, and comparatively cheap by the standards of the day – it cost around eight thousand pounds, while Conwy cost fifteen thousand, and Caernarfon was over twenty thousand – all three were built around the same time and all in North Wales. All three of these, and five others others, were built on the orders of Edward I towards the end of the Thirteenth Century to try to prevent another Welsh uprising – a conflict that had been bubbling for at least two hundred years by this point.
I’m planning to write a series of pieces about castles in the British Isles this month – there’s a lot of history here, and much of it would make good inspiration for games and stories. Castles are big, impressive structures built to withstand attack, pacify local dissidents, and protect those loyal to the lord. But they are more than just military structures – they are the homes of nobility, and they are big, imposing buildings which show the righteous power of those in charge.
I thought I would start with Bodiam Castle for two reasons: First it is a great example of what we think a castle looks like, and second I’ve been there several times as it is not far from where i grew up (Maybe that’s why I think it is the most castley castle that ever castled!).
The Castle and its History
Dragons! Huge beasts with bright red scales! Or is that green? What, maybe they’re golden? Hold on, they’re four-legged serpent-like creatures with feathers…
Dragon is an evocative word, and there is no doubt dragons come in a variety of shapes and colours in myth. From the battling red and white Dragons which fell castles in Welsh myth, to the symbol of the emperor in Chinese history – the one things they all have in common is power and strength.
In most fiction there is only one type of dragon. Most commonly in the west it is a huge fire-breathing lizard with wings, often intelligent but cruel, always symbolic of power. Sometimes the greatest ruler will command a dragon or three, other times the heroes will consult a dragon to discover ancient wisdom and forbidden lore, and sometimes they will battle one to prove their prowess or outwit one to prove their intelligence.
But what about colour? In most fiction it makes no difference – there is only one type of dragon because no more than that is needed. In a few instances, however, dragons come in more than one colour, and you can tell a lot about the dragon by what colour its scales are.