Blustery day, but nice sunset today here on Maui. Spent the last hour of the day poking around the tide pools.

Today's bonus castle is Dornoch castle in Scotland. It is located across the street from Dornoch cathedral. The earliest parts of the building date from 1500 as a residence for the Bishops of Sutherland. They gifted the castle to the Earl of Sutherland around 1547. After being burned a dozen years later it underwent a series of visibly obvious expansions and a half dozen different usages including jail, hunting lodge, Sherrif's office, school and courthouse. Today, it is a hotel.

My personal favorite on the Solway is Portchester Castle, a Norman castle with a massive keep built into one corner of a massive Roman fort. The view from the top is well worth the climb and provides an excellent view into the historic dockyard of Portsmouth.

The Solent waterway has been important since ancient times and a huge variety of castles and fortifications defend the area.

Sad to hear that a substantial chunk of Hurst Castle has just collapsed due to coastal erosion. Hurst is on a spit of land which guards the western approaches of the Solent around the Isle of Wight. Hurst was built in the 1540's as part of Henry VIII's "Device" program and has been fortified and expanded ever since, only being decommissioned only in 1956. It appears the collapse occurred along a stretch which had received the least erosion protection.

It looks like the declining 3rd wave in the US may have finally come up against the rising prevalence of more transmissible strains. I'm really fearful of the sharp growth in cases which may occur as more polities loosen restrictions, especially while we are still at relatively low rates of vaccination and high community spread. 4th wave? The next week should tell.

Nobody can definitively explain why Caerlaverock was built on such a unique triangular plan. Maybe it allowed them to erect the castle and make it defensible more quickly? Maybe there was a shortage of material or labour? Such a plan provides real limitations on living space and complicates building layout. The foundations of the original castle on the site, built in ~1220 can be visited by strolling through some swampy areas of the grounds. It was built on a normal quadrangular plan.

Todays bonus castle is the uniquely triangular Caerlaverock castle, located south of Dumfries along the Solway firth. Its location along an invasion route into Scotland has meant it has been subjected to numerous sieges, including by Edward I, who brought a large army here in 1300. That siege was much documented by English bards and we have a lengthy list of the knights, their achievements and heraldic devices as a result.

Today's bonus castle is Bamburgh castle on the coast of Northumberland near Lindisfarne. A fort has existed on the site since at post-roman times and may have been the capitol of the Britonic kingdom of Bernicia. The site changed hands several times between the Britons and Anglo-Saxons before the Normans plopped a castle there in the 11th century and the substantial keep was completed in Henry II's reign ~1164. It was the first English castle to ever fall due to cannon fire.

Just had my first fulfillment issue with Amazon in a long time. They shipped a small item (a Micro-SDXC card) via USPS. They have it as having left their warehouse, USPS doesn't have any record of having received it. Quick resolution by Amazon. Very curious as to where it wandered off to, though.

Today's castle is not a castle at all, but what castles morphed into in the age of cannon. This is one of the two Martello Towers which defended Pembroke Dock in Wales. Hundreds of similar structures were built across the British empire. They were inspired by a Genoese tower built in the 1560's which held out against 2 British warships (which mounted over 100 guns), for several days in 1794. Such structures finally became indefensible against rifled artillery.

Bonus castle is Criccieth commanding Tremadog bay in Wales. It was built by Llywelyn the Great and is one of the more substantial Welsh built castles of its era, with a very large twin D towered gatehouse. It was expanded under Edward I to a semi-concentric design with a possible engine tower. In 1359, a Welsh soldier known as Howel the Axe became constable. He was knighted by the Black Prince after the Battle of Poitiers, where he may have personally captured the French King John II.

Today's castle is Crickhowell castle, whose scant remnant double tower caught my eye while driving and I decided to stop for a break. The castle was built by the de Tuberville family in the 12th century and was the home of Hugh Tuberville, who was one of Edward I's most important knights banneret, commanding some 6000 troops during Edwards conquest. The castle was severely damaged during the uprising of Owain Glyndŵr in 1403 and subsequently allowed to decay and be stripped of stone.

Very gusty day here in Maui. Wind and rain knocked out the power last night for about 2 hours a bit after midnight. Internet and cellular weren't working until sometime late this AM. Glad I've got a box of 100 tea lights and 2 hurricane lanterns. Made use of them 3x this winter.

Even excluding the absolutely pie-in-the-sky idea of the tunnel/bridge itself, the degree of infrastructure improvements needed just to get started are ridiculous to anyone familiar with the area.

Since we are talking about China and military innovation, today's bonus pics are the Fortifications of Xi'an. Started in the 1370's, they form a 14 kilometer perimeter around the ancient city, which was the eastern terminus of the silk road and China's ancient capitol. They are 39 feet high and at least that wide or wider at the top, with numerous regularly spaced ramparts, crenellations and a wide and deep moat. There are also a number of substantial barbicans for access to the city.

Rip Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Here is his poem Dog, which I was forced to memorize in high school:

The Instant Legolas (named after the elf bowman in The Lord of the Rings series) is a device which allows a bowman to fire bolts rapidly and accurately from an attached magazine, rather than having to reach for a back mounted or staked quiver. Recently, Tod Cutler showed that you could make such a device with medieval technologies. The withering fire it produces is the medieval equivalent of a machine gun and would certainly have radically changed field engagements.

One of the few interesting things about Steampunk is the reimagining of what could have been built using Victorian era technology, machining tolerances, etc. I like to apply that same "what if" mindset to the medieval era. One device which has intrigued me of late is called the "Instant Legolas."

Today's castle is Pembroke Castle in Wales, the largest and most important castle commanding the Pembroke peninsula and the Milford Haven waterway. Much of the present stone castle was built under William Marshall, one of the greatest knights in history. Henry Tudor, who would reign as the first Tudor monarch as Henry VII, was born at Pembroke. Pembroke was besieged by Oliver Cromwell for 7 weeks before large mortars and a cutting off the castle's water supply finally forced surrender.

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