Medieval Trebuchet, Godsfoe Tower, Western Outer Curtain Wall, Dover Castle, Kent, UK

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John Latter on April 26, 2010

The replica trebuchet was moved to the above location near Godsfoe Tower - a corner of which runs down the left-hand side of the photo - by members of H Troop, 69 Gurkha Field Squadron, in January, 2010 (English Heritage news report: Gurkhas to move Giant Catapult at Dover Castle).

Previously, the siege engine had been located behind the walls of the Inner Bailey: click to see the Replica Trebuchet in the Keep Yard of Dover Castle photo which shows Keith Ashley-Thomas, an employee of English Heritage, standing in front of the catapult with the towers of the King`s Gate as a backdrop (King's Gate is the northern entrance into the Inner Bailey, the southern entrance is Palace Gate).

Elsewhere in the above image:

  1. To the right of the steps partially obscured by Godsfoe Tower is a well; the steps themselves lead up to Crevecouer Tower (shown from outside the Castle in the Crevecoeur Tower, Godsfoe Tower, Treasurer Tower photo).

  2. Behind the trebuchet are four of the eight Spur Casemates, bomb-proof vaulted chambers that once provided accomodation for enlisted men ("rank and file") while officers were housed further south in the Victorian Officers Mess, or as it more correctly called, the Officers New Barracks).

  3. On top of the Spur Casemates are two of the four stone-edged embrasures for the guns that once looked out between the Norfolk Towers over the Redan and Spur.

  4. The tiled-roof building on the right has a plaque on it saying, "Garrison Commander's Stables".

Click to see all photos of Dover Castle, one of Dover's English Heritage sites.

Standard Information for Tebuchet

A trebuchet, trebucket, or trébuchet, is a siege engine that was employed in the Middle Ages either to smash masonry walls or to throw projectiles over them. It is sometimes called a "counterweight trebuchet" or "counterpoise trebuchet" in order to distinguish it from an earlier weapon that has come to be called the "traction trebuchet", the original version with pulling men instead of a counterweight (1).

There is speculation that the trebuchet may have been introduced to England by Prince Louis of France (later Louis VIII) during the Great Siege of Dover Castle in 1216 (part of the First Barons` War fought initially against King John).

There were, in fact, two sieges of Dover Castle with the second one, according to, "Histoire des Dues de Normandie et des Rois d`Angleterre", beginning on the12th of May, 1217 (by which time King John was dead and Henry III was on the throne.

Apparently, it was during the 1217 siege that the trebuchet first made its appearance:

[Prince Louis] set up a trebuchet, which proved ineffective, and busily began the construction of “maisons”, possibly fortified positions of some kind.

...The investment of Dover necessitated the division of Louis’ forces across England and in his absence one half of his army was destroyed at the Battle of Lincoln on 20th May 1217. When news of this reached Louis he disassembled his trebuchet at Dover and, shortly afterwards, moved to London.

Later, during the Siege of Stirling in 1304, Edward I (Edward Longshanks) ordered his chief engineer, Master James of St. George, to begin work on a new, more massive engine called Warwolf, a version of the trebuchet. The Warwolf, or Ludgar (Loup de Guerre) is generally thought of as the most powerful and most famous of the trebuchets in history (2).

(1) From the opening paragraph of the Wikipedia entry for Trebuchet, which continues:

The counterweight trebuchet appeared in both Christian and Muslim lands around the Mediterranean in the twelfth century. It could fling up to three-hundred and fifty pound (140 kg) projectiles at high speeds into enemy fortifications. On occasion, disease-infected corpses were flung into cities in an attempt to infect or terrorize the people under siege - a medieval form of biological warfare. Traction trebuchets appeared in the Greek world and China in about the 4th century BC, and did not become obsolete until the 16th century, well after the introduction of gunpowder. Trebuchets were far more accurate than other medieval catapults.

(2) Abridged from the Middle Ages Website entry for Trebuchet.

Dover Castle appears in "Dover in World War Two: 1942", a ten minute British Ministry of Information film, released by the US Office of War Information, and narrated by the American journalist, Edward R. Murrow.

John Latter / Jorolat

Dover Blog: The Psychology of a Small Town

This is the Images of Dover website: click on any red or blue "John Latter" link to access the Entry Page.

John Latter on December 13, 2010

Dover Castle is a Grade I Listed Building (1).

The following is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence (PSI licence number C2010002016):

Building Details:

Building Name: DOVER CASTLE

Parish: DOVER

District: DOVER

County: KENT

Postcode:

Details:

LBS Number: 177823

Grade: I

Date Listed: 07/03/1974

Date Delisted:

NGR: TR3249141696

Listing Text:

1050 DOVER CASTLE

TR 3241 1/47

TR 34 SW 7/47

I

2.

Norman keep C.1155 of rag-stone ashlar blooks picked out flints with Caen stone dressings. Around the keep are ranges of C18 (=18th Century) houses of 2 to 3 storeys ashlar with a flint galleting. Round headed windows. Surrounding these ranges are 2 concentric rings of walls and towers dating from Mediaeval times. Beneath the castle are a whole series of subterranean passages dating from the C13 and improved for defence during the Napoleonic period. Ancient Monument. (Abridged).

Listing NGR: TR3249141696

Source: English Heritage. Click to see photos of Listed Buildings and English Heritage locations in the town of Dover, England.

John Latter on November 29, 2012

Godsfoe Tower is also known as The Devil’s Tower.

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Photo taken in Dover Castle, Castle Hill, Dover, Kent CT16 1HU, UK
Dover Castle

Photo details

  • Uploaded on April 26, 2010
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by John Latter
    • Camera: PENTAX Corporation PENTAX K100D
    • Taken on 2010/04/20 13:13:04
    • Exposure: 0.004s (1/250)
    • Focal Length: 21.00mm
    • F/Stop: f/13.000
    • ISO Speed: ISO200
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • No flash

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