Rochester Castle | Castello di Rochester

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Norman Castles in Great Britain and Ireland: Rochester Castle

L’incastellamento normanno nell’Europa medievale: Castello di Rochester

Image – author Clem Rutter, Rochester, Kent; license attribution 3.0 unported (CC BY 3.0).

Rochester Castle was founded during the Norman Conquest of England (1066 AD). The first wooden castle was built at the intersection between Medwey, a river, and Waitling Road, an ancient Roman road. Rochester, in fact, was a Roman Castrum and parts of the Roman walls have been found 1)G. Payne, Roman Rochester, Arch Cantiana, vol. XXI. However, remains of a pre-Norman castle does not exist. Probably the wooden castle was built on Boley Hill, a hill then incorporated into the stone fortifications. Originally Boley Hill was the motte, on which the wooden castle of William the Conqueror rested.
At the end of the eleventh century. A.D. Rochester Castle was the center of a revolt after the death of William the Conqueror. Odo of Bayeux did not recognize King William II of England and the king besieged city and castle. Soon Odo surrendered and fled to France. Rochester Castle was abandoned between 1086 and 1087 AD the famous architect Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester, built a new stone castle for William Rufus 2)Textus Roffensis, p. 145, “In the pulchriore civitatis Hrouecestre”. The new castle occupied an area outside of Boley Hill, which perhaps was abandoned. In the twelfth century. A.D. Rochester Castle was home to a large military garrison. Henry I of England, in 1127 AD, gave the castle to the Archbishop of Canterbury, William de Corbeil and all his successors. De Corbeil built a great tower, a donjon, which still exists intact. The donjon is part of the walls built by Gundulf some years before. The big tower was finished in 1141 A.D.
Rochester Castle is located in the south-west of the city. Fortifications, towers, the donjon and cathedral dominate and characterize the environment for centuries. The keep is the finest and perhaps oldest in England. It has a square plan, and it measures 21 by 21 meters. Four massive buttresses reinforce the corners of the donjon. On top of the buttresses four small towers rise from the terrace. In 1215 during a siege, the southeast corner of the great tower collapsed to the ground and the buttress was reconstructed cylinder during the reign of Henry III. A spiral staircase is located in the north east of the great tower. This staircase connecting all floors. Another staircase is located in the south-west and connects the plans from first to last. The tower was built using local stone, “Kentish Ragstone”, and Caen stone imported from Normandy. The main entrance is located on the first floor and the entrance is guarded by a conning tower. A drawbridge allow access to the conning tower. The interior of the dungeon is divided over the entire height by a wall oriented east-west. The ground floor was used as a deposit and first floor contained a large room and great room. Perhaps the first floor housed the High Constable of the castle. The second was the best plan of the castle. The plan contained the master of the fortress and was 8.2 meters high. A gallery surrounding this plan and there was a chapel. Access to the plane was on the third floor terrace and a second chapel was built here. The current entrance to Northeast occupies roughly the site of the gatehouse built by Gundulf in the twelfth century. A.D. rebuilt during the 1249/1250. The guard was finally demolished in 1870 to create a municipal garden. According to a drawing from 1730, the gatehouse was an archway between two towers.

Il castello di Rochester venne eretto durante la Conquista Normanna dell’Inghilterra (1066 d.C.). Il primo castello, in materiale ligneo, fu costruito nell’intersezione tra il fiume Medwey e la Waitling Road, un’antica strada romana. Rochester, infatti, fu un castrum romano e parti delle mura romane sono state rinvenute intorno alla prima metà del XX sec. 3)G. Payne, Roman Rochester, in Arch. Cantiana, vol. XXI. Tuttavia sembra non esistano resti di un presunto castello pre-normanno. Probabilmente il primitivo castello di legno venne costruito su Boley Hill, una collina successivamente inglobata dentro le fortificazioni di pietra. Boley Hill era, probabilmente, la motta, un rilievo artificiale, sulla quale poggiava l’originario castello ligneo.
Alla fine dell’XI sec. d.C. il castello di Rochester fu al centro di una rivolta dopo la morte di Guglielmo il Conquistatore. Oddone di Bayeux non riconobbe Guglielmo II sovrano d’Inghilterra e il re assediò città e castello. In breve tempo Oddone si arrese e fuggì in Francia. Il Castello di Rochester fu abbandonato e tra il 1086 e il 1087 d.C. il famoso architetto Gundulf, vescovo di Rochester, costruì un nuovo maniero, interamente in pietra, per William Rufus 4)Textus Roffensis, p. 145, “In pulchriore parte civitatis Hrouecestre”. Il nuovo castello occupò una zona diversa rispetto alla motta di Boley Hill, che forse venne abbandonata. Nel XII sec. d.C. la fortezza ospitava un’ingente guarnigione militare, a sottolineare l’importanza strategica del sito.
Enrico I d’Inghilterra, nel 1127 d.C., donò il castello all’arcivescovo di Canterbury William de Corbeil ed a tutti i suoi successori. De Corbeil costruì un grande mastio, un dongione, che ancora oggi esiste integro e rappresenta l’ultima e forse più importante fase costruttiva del complesso fortificato. La grande torre si inserisce all’interno delle mura costruite da Gundulf alcuni decenni prima. Il dongione fu completato nel 1141 d.C.

Il castello di Rochester si trova nell’angolo sud-ovest della città. Fortificazioni, torri, il grande dongione e la cattedrale dominano e caratterizzano da secoli l’ambiente circostante. Il mastio è il più bello e fra i più antichi di Inghilterra. La struttura ha pianta quadrata  e misura 21 per 21 metri. Quattro imponenti contrafforti rinforzano gli angoli del dongione e, sulla sommità dei contrafforti, quattro piccole torri si sollevano dal terrazzo. Nel 1215 durante un assedio, l’angolo sud-est della grande torre collassò al suolo e il contrafforte fu ricostruito cilindrico durante il regno di Enrico III. Una scala a spirale si trova nell’angolo nord est della grande torre. Questa scala collega tutti i piani. Un’altra scala si trova nell’angolo sud-ovest e connette i piani dal primo all’ultimo. La torre è stata costruita utilizzando pietra locale, il “Kentish Ragstone”, e pietra di Caen importata dalla Normandia. L’ingresso è salvaguardato da una falsa torre. Un ponte levatoio consente l’accesso alla falsa torre. L’interno del dongione è diviso per l’intera altezza da un muro orientato est ovest. Il piano terreno era utilizzato come deposito e il primo piano conteneva un grande ambiente e una grande camera. Forse il primo piano ospitava il connestabile del castello. Il secondo era il piano residenziale, adibito ad ospitare il signore della fortezza ed era alto 8.2 metri. Una galleria circondava questo piano e vi si trovava una cappella. L’accesso al piano terrazzato si trovava al terzo piano e qui, probabilmente in un secondo momento, venne costruita una seconda cappella. L’attuale ingresso di nord-est occupa, approssimativamente, il luogo della guardiola costruita da Gundulf nel XII sec. d.C., ricostruita durante il 1249/1250. La guardiola venne definitivamente abbattuta nel 1870 per creare un giardino municipale. Secondo un disegno del 1730, la guardiola era un’arcata tra due torri

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References   [ + ]

1. G. Payne, Roman Rochester, Arch Cantiana, vol. XXI
2. Textus Roffensis, p. 145, “In the pulchriore civitatis Hrouecestre”
3. G. Payne, Roman Rochester, in Arch. Cantiana, vol. XXI
4. Textus Roffensis, p. 145, “In pulchriore parte civitatis Hrouecestre”
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