Conserving a Ruin
The last great medieval fortification in England, Wigmore Castle in Herefordshire, has been preserved as a romantic ruin at a cost of £1 million by English Heritage. Jim Kelsey reports on this remarkable feat.
The crumbling towers battlements of the last great medieval fortification in England, Wigmore Castle in Herefordshire, have been preserved as a romantic ruin at a cost of £1 million by English Heritage (EH). ‘It is a new approach to conservation and preservation,’ said Sir Jocelyn Stevens, EH's chairman. ‘After three years work the site looks very much as it did in 1700 when, became of its dangerous state, the castle was closed. We have consolidated the spectacular ruins which will continue to dominate their wild windswept hilltop to ensure that Wigmore and its frail ecology is left intact.’
Wigmore Castle vas originally built of wood by William I in 1068 and replaced by a much more impressive structure in stone by Ralph Monomer in 1246. The ruins are mainly fourteenth-century but parts of the shell wall are Norman and the North East tower thirteenth century.
Excavations intimate that the castle had a circular or oval keep, warehouse and at least ten towers giving commanding views over 3,000 acres of the valley below, a patchwork of fields and trees, rising gently to distant hills.