Abstract: Understanding Bodiam Castle
Lecturer: Matthew Johnson
Bodiam Castle, built in the 1380s in south-eastern England, is perhaps the most extensively-discussed castle in medieval Europe. It is certainly the most controversial – was it built as defence against the French, or was it an old soldier’s dream house, a fairytale castle set in a symbolic landscape? In this talk, I report on three seasons of archaeological survey at Bodiam. A team from the University of Southampton in the UK and Northwestern University in the USA, working in collaboration with the National Trust, have surveyed the castle fabric, mapped the surrounding landscape, and conducted geophysical survey. Our conclusions are that the academic ‘battle for Bodiam’ has generated more heat than light. I present a new view of the castle, stressing its active role in regional politics and economics, and understanding Bodiam at a series of scales from the smallest action of washing one’s hands in the chapel piscine out to the castle’s place in world history.
Short bibliography on lecture topic:
Johnson, Matthew 2002. Behind the Castle Gate: From Medieval to Renaissance. New York, Routledge.