Monday, June 04, 2012

Vandals damage Roman stonework at Scarborough castle

Vandals have clambered into the town's castle, whose position on the headland is one of the glories of both bays, and done significant damage to Roman stonework.

The fortress is generally well capable of looking after itself, with walls up to 12ft thick and the mortar so hard in places that it has crystallised into spar. There is also a tradition of local people having a go at it; back in 1265, just over a century after the castle's foundation by William the Fat, Earl of Albermarle, Royal troops had to take over to protect the place and its constable from constant attacks.

It has subsequently fallen to four sieges and was damaged in 1914 when German warships shelled the town and killed 19 people. But the latest attack has concentrated on the most vulnerable part; the modest remains of the Roman watchtower and signal station which date back to 370AD.

This was the very end of the Romans' four centuries in Britain and they were gone within the year, but their stonework has lasted, albeit with quite a lot of modern pointing. Damage to upper layers of stone has been compounded by the wrecking of signs and stealing of metal caps from fence posts, no doubt for the flourishing trade in illegal scrap metal.