Wednesday, 21 September 2011
Portchester (Porchester) Castle
For me one of the most interesting things about this card is the way they spelled the name of the castle. You'd normally spell it Portchester but it's not a casual mistake - it's the same on the reverse too. It's not far from Portsmouth, on the northern shore of the harbour, so you'd think that it would be similar. In fact the spelling has varied over the years from Portus Adurni by the Romans, through Portcestre after a Saxon warrior, Port. It wasn't until the late 19th century that the modern spelling was officially adopted. There is still a sign inside with the Porchester spelling.
It's a Roman fortification, probably dating from the 3rd century BC. Of course it was added to and extended at various times. The Saxons used it and the Normans added the castle to the fort. Then it was used as a prison after 1665, and the again during the Napoleonic Wars when over 7000 French prisoners were kept there.
These days it is run by English Heritage. It is rumoured to be haunted....