By Philip Haythornthwaite, Adam Hook
A close, illustrated reference aimed toward modellers, wargamers, historians and re-enactors. large captions provide information, details and motives on Napoleonic themes.
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Additional resources for British Infantry of the Napoleonic Wars
2m in length, it is somewhat longer than other bastles. The basement was barrel vaulted, the roof being pierced with a ladder hole leading to the upper floor. This interior view of the ground floor entrance, which is in the long west wall, gives a good idea of the stout nature of the doorway, the jambs of which are fitted with a double check and a deep tunnel housing the drawbar. Only sheer brute force could hope to 'burst' through such defences, but on occasion that is exactly what was brought to bear.
One leapt over the walls, and, running more than a furlong after, was slain without, in the water. All this while, at Thornton, our assault and their defence was stoutly continued; but well perceiving how on the one side they were battered, mined on the other, kept in with hackbutters round about, and some of our men within also occupying all the house under them, for they had likewise shopped [shut] up themselves in the highest of their house, and so to do nothing, inward THE SIEGE OF NORHAM CASTLE, 1497 In 1497, amidst growing tension between England and Scotland, James IV decided upon a pre-emptive strike across the river Tweed, his target being the Bishop of Durham's fortress at Norham.
Having secured valuable livestock in the basement, defence amounted to little more than holding out through an attack and hoping that a neighbour would answer the fray and offer support, or that the raiders would eventually give up and move on to easier pickings. Although bastles have been described as built for 'passive defence', given the nature of the folk within, they doubtless defended themselves 'in stout fashion' with dagg, hackbut, boiling water or crossbow. Note the small, barred windows and the 'quenching hole', set above the basement doorway in the end wall.