Burg Sooneck – The Blind Archer

Burg Soonek

So first a bit of background on this beautiful castle! It’s one of the coolest I’ve seen and it’s located in Germany on the Rhine River! History has the first structure on this site being built around 1217 – now that’s a long time ago! It was conquered, destroyed and rebuilt many times over its history as most castles are. It was often home to some not-so-savory characters including the star of today’s show, Siebold- I like to think of him as Siebold the Swarthy but I just made that up!

Anywho - Siebold didn’t get along very well with Hans Veit and as was so common at that time, they could not bring their quarrels to a peaceful end so decided to meet violently. Now, because Hans was known as the best archer in the land, old Siebold didn’t think it would be fair for them to meet in any contest involving archery. So he chose a hand-to-hand fight to the death since he was bigger and stronger than Hans – because THAT made it fair, sheesh!

Hans did the best he could but he was just no match for Siebold. Instead of doing the honorable thing and just putting Hans out of his misery, he took the poor guy back to the castle with him and had his eyes “burned out.” I’m not sure how that works but it sounds fairly ghastly and disgusting! He then kept poor Hans locked up and suffering in his dungeons for months.

Burg Sooneck

One night Siebold was hanging around and carousing with all of his disgusting friends and he decided to use it as an opportunity to further humiliate Hans. So he had him brought up from the dungeons and told him that if he could shoot a goblet while it was airborne, then he would let him go. So they gave Hans a crossbow and Siebold tossed the goblet into the air and told Hans to “shoot!” Hans promptly put a bolt straight through his mouth and he dropped down dead! I guess after the meal Siebold was getting his “just desserts!” Ha!

Sources -

*Great Castles – a fabulous site!

*Wikipedia.com

*Chewbacca’s Travels

* Blind Archer by Wilhelm Ruland

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Ackergill Tower and Some Dishonest Scots!

This next castle is one of the many fabulous Scottish castles and the story that goes with it is even better!

Ackergill Tower was built by Clan Keith around the late 1400s. Sometime after the tower was built, the Chieftain of Clan Keith, Dugald Keith kidnapped Helen Gunn on the eve of her wedding. He then proceeded to make “unseemly advances” towards her. Helen, rather than be disgraced by Dugald, threw herself from the tower walls to her death on the rocks below. Some people claim they can still see her ghost on the walls today in a red ball gown.

1930 Ackergill Postcard

This, understandably, was the start of some major feuding between the two clans. They were constantly meeting in skirmishes where they would bang at each other with their swords with neither clan being able to claim the “upper hand” in the feud. In an effort to settle the matter once and for all, both clans agreed that they would meet up at the chapel of St. Tears with 12 horses per clan and “duke it out.”

The Gunn clan showed up a little early and since the Keith’s had yet to make an appearance, they decided their time would be well spent in the chapel praying. While they were praying, the Keith’s showed up with their twelve horses but with two men on each horse! Those cheaters!!! They didn’t even wait for the Gunn’s to finish praying but just went after them.

Ackergill Interior

As far as the Keith’s were concerned, they were still following the “12 horse” rule and hadn’t done anything wrong. But as you know, cheaters never win and both sides took heavy losses, with the Keith’s actually losing a larger percentage of their men. So even after all this death and trouble, there still wasn’t a clear “winner,” and the clans still didn’t have a resolution to their problems.

Finally, in 1978, although they were no longer massacring each other by this point, the descendants of the two clans decided to make the peace official and sign a treaty of friendship, isn’t that nice?

Ackergill accommodations

Nowadays the tower has undergone some pretty extensive restoration and “redecorating” and is now a posh, luxury venue for weddings and the like.

Sources -

Photos:

*www.ackergilltower.com

*www.celticcastles.com

*www.caithness.org

*www.bestloved.com/hotels

Info:

*www.wikipedia.com

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Dover Castle

And now I’d like to welcome you to my first arbitrarily chosen castle! This one hails from Kent, England in the town of Dover. It has been a very important location since the Iron Age because of it’s very defensible position on the White Cliffs of Dover. It has now been restored to look much like it would have during a visit of an important noble and much of the castle is open to visitors. You can even check out the the underground tunnels that during WWII were used as a hospital, shelter and communications area.

The best part of this castle though, is one of the stories behind it. The current structure was originally started by William the Conqueror as a motte and bailey structure. A motte-and-bailey castle is a fortification with a wooden or stone keep situated on a raised earthwork called a motte, accompanied by an enclosed courtyard, or bailey, surrounded by a protective ditch and palisade. Then Henry II came along and started work on the current structure around the 1160s!

This is where it gets good! Henry had a very close friend named Thomas Becket. When the current Archbishop of Caterbury died, Henry put a bug in the Pope’s ear and convinced him to elect Becket as the new Archbishop. As a result of this, Henry was assuming that he would now have more power over the church because at that time the church reserved the right to oversee the trial of certain crimes and judgements. This didn’t sit well with Henry because he thought that, as King, he should have absolute power.

Dover Castle today

Thomas Becket surprised him though by not handing that power over to him and actually changing allegiances to stand against Henry. Henry was so upset that Becket fled to France where he stayed in exile for 6 years out of Henry’s reach. During this time Becket had excommunicated two bishops who had supported Henry. Around 1170, Henry was in France and the two appeared to reconcile and Becket came back to Canterbury and Henry stayed in France for a time.

Henry was hoping that their reconcilliation would cause Becket to absolve the bishops of their crime. When he refused to do so, Henry purportedly went into a rage and could be heard to shout, “Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?” Four enterprising knights overheard the King and decided that they would help him out and get on his good side so they immediately took off back to Canterbury in search of Thomas Becket. Becket heard they were coming and took off for the cathedral to hide. They found him at the altar praying in the middle of a service. They proceeded to hack him down right there!!!

Artist’s rendition of the murder of Thomas Becket

These knights quickly fell into disgrace after completing such a sacreligious act. And King Henry, upon hearing what his knights had done, immediately sought penance. He walked barefoot from Dover Castle to the town of Canterbury and upon arriving at the cathedral with bloody feet, prayed at the altar where Becket was murdered while being whipped by 80 monks! OUCH!

The Great Tower of Dover Castle

Upon Henry’s return to Dover, he soon began construction of the Great Tower. Some say he did this so that all the people making a pilgrimage to the site of Archbishop Becket’s martyrdom could look up on the cliffs and see proof of the King’s power and to re-establish his prestige after he had humbled himself during his penance.

Good story, right? Sorry that got so long – it was a little like a soap opera! If you can think of a castle that you would like for me to write about, let me know, I would love to! Also be sure to follow along so you can be notified of new posts. If you think this stuff is worth it you can also share it on Facebook or Twitter or wherever!

Sources -

*Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motte-and-bailey_castle

*Sweet info here – www.english-heritage.org.uk

*AWESOME site, I urge you to check it out!! www.castlestories.net

*The Murder of Thomas Becket, 1170″ EyeWitness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory

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Hello world!

The Balmoral Estate was purchased by Queen Victoria in 1848, and has been the Scottish Home of the British Royal Family ever since.

Welcome to my fantasy world! Ever since I can remember I’ve had a fascination with castles and as a little girl I was just sure that I would live in one someday! Now I’m all grown up ( okay…so maybe not!) and not only do I not live in a castle but I’ve never even seen one in person! I’m not going to let that stop me though.

I’ve started this blog as a way for me to explore the legends and myths behind these fairytale places. I pledge to only post the most interesting bits and do it in a way that you will hopefully enjoy reading! I do NOT pledge however that the information I post is factual! The whole point of myths and legends is that they are romanticized and therefore interesting and I would like to keep it that way! And with that said – let’s get started!

Sources:

*Image – © Copyright Colin Smith and  licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

*Caption – This AWESOME website!! Castle Stories

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