Mont Orgueil Castle I — Jersey — Château du Mont Orgueil I
Pictorial Stationary Co. (1897-1914)
Mont Orgueil has been set onto its rocky outcrop above the town of Gorey since 1212. At the time, it was a state-of-the-art stronghold, and its construction was a matter of urgency. In 1204, Normandy – which lies just 17 miles to the east – had been seized by France, having been tied to the English crown since the Norman Conquest of 1066. What had been a friendly neighbour was suddenly the foe next door, and Mont Orgueil had a job to do, monitoring the Channel for any signs of enemy action. It never fell into French hands.
Although its soaring towers and sturdy walls were the best defence that money could build in the 13th century, by the 15th Mont Orgueil was obsolete, thanks to the hilly terrain which surrounds it – a landscape which left it open to cannon fire now that gunpowder had been invented.
The Telegraph: Five reasons why visiting Mont Orgueil in Jersey is a must
The castle is built on a rocky promontory facing the coast of Normandy and overlooking the Bay of Grouville. There are steep slopes and high cliffs on three sides giving an almost impregnable position. In 1204, King Philip of France took Normandy back but King John of England kept the administration of the islands. The Channel Islands became the front line between England and France and work began on Mont Orgueil under the Warden of the Isles, Hasculf du Suligny.
The site chosen had been used as a defensive place since the Iron Age and possibly as early as the Neolithic period. The earth rampart and ditch would have been degraded but would have provided a good start for the new fortress which was built on the rocky ridge. The shape of the stone buildings was determined by the narrowness of the ridge, with a hall being connected to two square towers by long passageways. Access to the hall was through an enclosed staircase. The area inside the ramparts below was further strengthened in 1224-5 when 1,000 tree trunks were sent to the islands from the New Forest to make palisades for the two new castles. In addition Jersey also received five cartloads of lead, the timber from 20 oak trees and 60 bags of nails to assist with the building.
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