Dover Castle is clearly atypical when compared to other castles, mainly because of its continual use into the 20th century, and its use of tunnels. Source 5 shows the underground tunnels being used for a headquarters to track enemy ship movements during WW2. This suggests that the Castle was still used for military purposes up into the 20th Century. Both my visit and this source are useful here. However, the visit only allowed me to see the size and extent of the tunnels in person, whereas the source allowed me to see the headquarters being in use. This is more reliable to me, when supporting my idea of Dover Castle’s use into the 20th century. Because this photograph is of the actual event, I’d say it’s reliable as well.
When visiting Dover Castle, I also noticed that the keep was another important feature of this site. There’s evidence showing that the walls and roofing had been repaired over time, specifically to support AA (Anti-Aircraft) guns. This backs up the idea of its geographical location supporting its military use up into WW2/20th century. Source 8 also states that in 1899, “Dover castle started to develop other uses as a ‘headquarters of the south eastern military district.” Compared to my visit, I’d say this source provided is more useful, due to giving a precise date, ‘1899’. And that Dover Castle also supported a local hospital, which I didn’t see in my visit.
From my visit, I also learned that the Saxon church, described as the heart of Dover Castle, was one of the first buildings present before Dover Castle was erected. This suggests that religion (a key feature) could have had an historical influence on the location of Dover Castle today. This location may also have been chosen because Dover was the first place in England where the Saxons landed. So they decided to build the Saxon church (a religious monument) for a tribute to the Gods.
I also noticed on my visit that Dover Castle geology consists of chalky cliffs. This is another feature that made Dover Castle a great strategic geographical location for it to be built. The chalk allows many tunnels to be easily dug under Dover Castle, and supporting it’s activeness up into the 20th century/WW2. Source 4 shows the tunnels system. However, it was my visit of seeing the tunnels, that gave me a better insight of how deadly they were e.g. the cannons, and it’s angled windows.
Another key feature is Constables gate (the northern entrance), which made this Castle extremely hard to invade. This gate was the first thing I saw from my visit, and is primary evidence of Dover Castle being upgraded after a European war. It wasn’t until the French siege of 1216-1217, that completely demolished the original northern gate, creating the need for Constables gate to be built. Also, reaching this gate meant walking past a series of unreachable tunnels filled with slanted windows, musketeers, cannons and mortars. This made Dover Castle almost impenetrable.
Even though visiting Dover Castle was useful, Sources can also be reliable. Source 9 (p23) states that Henry II spent an ‘enormous sum of £6640’ on building Dover Castle, unlike the ‘£1000-£2000’ spent on 5 other Castle’s. In this case, this is better than my visit, as it provides both facts and figures, which the visit doesn’t provide. This source is also reliable, because it relates to Source 1 (p95-96) where in the year 1794, Dover Castle had £50,000 spent on repairing and upgrading it. These are two prime examples of Dover castle’s atypical behaviour throughout time. To act as a strong military base and too protect the country.
In contrast to my previous point about Dover Castle being repaired, my visit also showed me where Dover Castle was repaired with different aged bricks. This tells me that Dover, at some point needed to be repaired. This can also be backed up by the Elizabethan accounts. The Castle was ‘made up almost entirely of items of renewal and replacement’. This source is more reliable than my visit, because it states the time period as well, which the brick types from Dover Castle do not (unless I personally knew about ages and geology of rocks). The source also hints that Dover Castle may have been nearly neglected, as it was left to the point where it was near “falling to ruin”.
Source 3 supports the idea of Dover Castle developing in a unique way, because it tells us about improvements after the King’s visits in 1542 and 1544. “The defence of Dover was now guarded by new bulwarks, in the cliffs of the bay and at the harbour”. This suggests that the harbour was also a geopolitical key feature to Dover Castle, as well as linking back to the Romans (when they first built Dover’s Harbour). This means that enhancing the harbour could potentially promote trade as well, “to the offensive potentiality of the castle, primarily by maintaining its ordnance”. Even though my visit allowed you to see the harbour, the sources are more useful because they provide relevant information about improvements in the 16th century.
Sources 4, 6 and 9 don’t really tell me much, except showing photographs of Dover Castle. However source 6 was taken in 1925, and comparing to my visit, doesn’t show much change of Dover Castle. Even though there’s almost a century in difference. My visit was probably more useful, as it allowed me to see Dover Castle’s constituents first hand, unlike sources 4, 6 and 9. Sources 1 describe the Castle as “when seen from the opposite coast of France, it appears to life its towering head above the clouds”. This source isn’t very useful to me either, because it’s clearly an exaggerated opinion. However, it did slightly suggest its military use. “Stand in awe of its mighty strength, and spread its ancient fame through distant climes” which supports the idea of Dover Castle developing for different unique reasons. Such as acting as deterrence, enhancing trade, and signifying Britain’s power.
In conclusion, visiting Dover Castle was as equally beneficial to me as the source booklet provided. Although my visit to Dover Castle helped me gain an understanding of the physical features of the castle e.g. chalk, constable’s gate, the Saxon church, the tunnels, and so on. It was limited to usefulness. It didn’t provide any information on dates or figures, whereas the source booklets did. Consequently, the source booklet was also limited, as it was sometimes hard to decipher/read the sources. And there was only a limited amount of them.