Skipton Castle bills itself as one of the best preserved medieval castles. In fact the Tudor wing on the right of this picture is still a private residence. But though one or two of the walls have been around since the 11th century, it has been gloriously mucked about since then. For instance, here’s a perfectly serviceable medieval arrow slot turned into an air vent for a Tudor fireplace.
You may notice the castle looks a bit on the short side, only two stories tall in most places. It was a Royalist stronghold in the Civil War, and afterwards Oliver Cromwell had it reduced to one story so it would no longer be a threat. However, the owner of the castle, Lady Anne Clifford, was having none of this. She had fought a forty year legal battle to establish her title to the estate, eventually gaining control when her uncle and cousin died, and she wasn’t having any nonsense from some jumped up “Lord Protector”. Cromwell eventually allowed her to rebuild to two stories, so long as the walls were only two yards think instead of four, and the roofs were not flat so that they could not have cannon on them.
The yew tree she planted in the courtyard in 1659 is still growing there.
There are some bits of the castle that have a flat roof these days.
Those were put on in the restoration of the castle that started in the 1950s, and according to the guide, it took an Act of Parliament to overturn the proclamation from Oliver Cromwell’s day.
The gatehouse that you see in the picture above, has a 17th century reclining nude teddy bear made of sea shells.
Bet you thought furries were something new. Shell grottoes were apparently a thing in Jacobean England, but for some reason only two of them survived. Who knows what lurid and grotesque excrescences of the 17th century psyche have been lost us us? Perhaps a unicorn impaling a werewolf rendered entirely in scallop shells or the rape of the Sabine women in whelks?
Above Skipton the canal leaves urbanization behind for a while and wanders though beautiful countryside.
We made it through five swing bridges (three of them really hard to move) and three locks, one of which contains another line of poetry on it, like the one we passed last August. Maybe someday we will collect the entire poem.
We made it to the village of Gargrave (why do I want to keep calling it Gangrene?) which is very proud of its Roman heritage. As you can see from this map the remains of a Roman farm have been found close to the railway line…
…which must have been very convenient if you didn’t mind waiting sixteen hundred years for a train. Though the villa is long gone, you can see the remains of a Roman ford in the river just below the modern bridge. You should be able to make out the paving stones in this picture, if I turn the contrast up a bit.
There’s a pretty church…
… with a strange modern gate produced in the village to celebrate the millennium. This side is more or less comprehensible.
From right to left, there’s a mother and child, a guy getting a shampoo, and two pairs of hands releasing a dove. The only weird thing is the hole in the dove’s head for the harpoon to go through. The other gate is harder to parse.
The right hand panel appears to be a hand, a cross and a lump or firewood, the left hand panel is a woman enjoying her morning coffee, but the middle panel? Paula suggests it may be Benjamin Franklin having a bowel movement, but I’m inclined to think it’s two velociraptors playing frisbee.