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6th November 2018 -  The Defence of the Realm

Richard Philips

The Club met on Tuesday 6 October in the Municipal Hall to hear a talk from Richard Philips on “Defence of the Realm”. The meeting was opened by the President Alastair Pate. The talk was based on a history of castles and fortifications from the Norman invasion in 1066 till the present day.   Richard started by looking at the development of Norman castles from a wooden structure on an artificial mound – the motte and bailey – to the rectangular stone tower with a curtain wall and extensive defences. These defensive structures later evolved to become a system of fortifications designed to defend large areas of the emerging nation state.   After 1066 there were many attempted invasions from the sea, the last being in 1797 when French soldiers unsuccessfully landed in Wales. The wars against Napoloen’s France led to a great surge in the building of sea defences, and later in the 19th Century more defensive building went on, including the fortification of naval dockyards and other strategic sites.   The greatest intensity of defensive construction was in 1940 under the imminent threat of German invasion, and since 1950 military construction has continued, most of it underground as a response to Cold War threats.   The talk was well illustrated with photographs and maps, showing the extent of defensive structures, many of which still exist around our coasts. The next meeting on 20 November will hear a talk by Ian Logan on The Appin Murder.

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