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Author Topic:   Castles and animals
Senior Member
posted 12-22-2000 02:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glaive203     Edit/Delete Message

we all know that their were swans in the moat,peacocks in the courtyard/inner ward,horses in the stables,hounds in the kennels ,falcons and hawks in the mews;but what about more common and more exotic animals? Were some of what we think are caphouses[small turrets on top of a tower and giving access to the stair well-for the ignorant many] really dovecots containing doves,turtledoves and pidgeons? Where were the parrots kept? If a castellan kept a menagery or aviary who's authority would it be under his master of game or his falconer?

posted 12-22-2000 04:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Levan   Click Here to Email Levan     Edit/Delete Message
Newark Castle in Port Glasgow, Scotland, has a seperate dovecot. This tower wasn't actually originally built for this purpose but was converted at a later stage in the castle's evolution.

[This message has been edited by Levan (edited 12-29-2000).]

posted 12-22-2000 07:49 AM           Edit/Delete Message
The majority of Scottish doocots were actually housed separatley from the main building, most commonly as at Newark, being accomodated in a corner tower of the courtyard. There were exceptions though. At Eastshield in Lanarkshire the doocot was housed in the caphouse of a very tall stair tower, and at Hallbar, the boxes were actually high on the exterior of a main wall, with a wooden superstructure allowing access from the top floor. This superstructure was supported upon corbels.
Since the majority of these towers supported relatively small households, specific roles such as castellan, falconer, tranter and the like would have been taken on by the keeper or a trusted servant of the house. The lord probably actively participated himself. In reality everything occured under the Lords authority. Stylised households such as that you describe where a servant was supported for each role would have been affordable only by the great nobles of the land, and even then duplicity of roles were likely.
In Scotland the types of animals you describe would have been held only by the very rich, as novelty pets, but the keeping of doves or pigeons represented a very real and accesible food source on which the family depended.
It is worth mentioning that at Stirling there is a bear pit, and at least one Royal Prince is said to have had a pet lion.

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Philip Davis
posted 12-22-2000 03:07 PM           Edit/Delete Message
The unique great tower of Conisborough Castle had a dovecot in one of the turrets and I have a vague feeling that Cerreg Cennen also had nesting holes in one of it's walls (Am I right?).

The history of exotic animals at the Tower of London is a very long one, possibly nearly as old as the Tower itself, the collection eventually became the bases for London Zoo. Unfortunately the offical website ( http://www.hrp.org.uk/tol/indextol.htm ) does not mention this history.

This is rom Geoffrey Parnell's Tower of London (see http://www.castlesontheweb.com/members/philipdavis/Books/TLGP.html for details)

Perhaps one of the most unlikely institutions to be established within the medieval Tower was the Royal Menagerie. The earliest record of exotic animals being kept there dates from 1235, when Henry III was presented with three leopards by his brother-in-law, the Emperor Frederick II. Seventeen years later a white polar bear arrived from Norway and the sheriffs of London were ordered to pay 4d a day for the maintenance of the animal (and its keeper) and to provide a chain and a long stout cord to hold it while it was fishing in the Thames.
In 1255 Henry III was to receive his most exotic beast — an elephant presented by Louis IX of France. Again the sheriffs of London were called upon — this time to pay for the construction of an elephant house 40 ft long and 20 ft wide. The warrant added that they were to build the house in such a way that it could be used for something else, thus after the animal died in 1257 a reference to a Jewess in the Elephant House~ indicates that it had been utilized as a prison.
It was, however, the lions that were to capture the public imagination and references to them at the Tower in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries are relatively frequent. Under Edward II it was laid down that each lion should receive a quarter of mutton a day and his keeper 3d. By the reign of Edward III the keeper’s wage had risen to 12d a day, while 12d a day was allowed for the animal’s food. The exact site of the menagerie throughout the medieval period is not known.

And as I rode by Dalton-Hall Beneath the turrets high, A maiden on the castle-wall Was singing merrily: The Outlaw by Sir Walter Scott

Senior Member
posted 12-23-2000 01:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glaive203     Edit/Delete Message
pideons were the tv dinners of the gentry-lacking pinnion feathers they could be plucked in a couple of minutes with just ones hands and probably cooked in under half an hour.Swans and peacocks were also widely eaten by the rich-not just kept as pets.One never sees a parrot in a film set in the MA;but they were not an uncommon pet amongst the gentry.The word castellan actually refers to the man holding a castle not the "overseer" of one which was the steward,seneshal,or in some royal castles the warden,the sheriff or constable,as simple knights as well as barons and lords could hold a castle ME used "castellan" as a descriptive term for a castle's lord.

Senior Member
posted 12-23-2000 02:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glaive203     Edit/Delete Message
thank you philip-you even included info I did not know.I do have another question are buffalo[your bison] native to europe or an American import like the turkey,mink and muskrat?If they're native were they both of the woodland and plains variety or just of the woodland variety?

Philip Davis
posted 12-23-2000 02:14 AM           Edit/Delete Message
Natural History is not really my field but as I understand it the European Bison is native (It appears on many cave painting so it must have been around since the last iceage. I think it was (is?) a woodland variety since the main eurasian plains (steppe) large herbivore was the horse.
Indeed most of the artic tundra animals are spread across america and eurasia. The elk and moose being basical the same as are the reindeer and caribou.

And as I rode by Dalton-Hall Beneath the turrets high, A maiden on the castle-wall Was singing merrily: The Outlaw by Sir Walter Scott

Senior Member
posted 12-23-2000 03:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Merlin   Click Here to Email Merlin     Edit/Delete Message
About the exotic animals: Already in the 8th/9th century, Charlemagne had a garden with a famous collection of animals from Europe, Asia and Africa at his Palatium in Aachen. The best known was a gift sent by Harun al-Rashid from Baghdad in 802: an elephant with the name Abul Abaz, which died 8 years later (source: Annales regni francorum ad A. 801 et 802). In 865, King Charles II.the Bald recieved from Spain with other gifts a group of camels (source: Annales Bertiniani ad. A. 865).


Senior Member
posted 12-24-2000 04:04 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glaive203     Edit/Delete Message
This is becoming a very interesting thread;but there are a couple of trivial points I woud like to make.First,when you say an elk to Americans this means our red deer or stag[most Americans are geographical,linguistic and historical meatheads and its very easy to confuse them].Secondly,russia at least had a native mink.Lastly,the steppes have onagers,mainly larger than their native horses.I've often wondered whether you had a plains bison which was driven to exinction or near extinction like our woodland buffalo;but I've only a hunter's knowledge of natural history myself.

Philip Davis
posted 12-24-2000 11:34 AM           Edit/Delete Message
Ah two nations divided by a common language. The European Elk is, of course, not a deer but an elk (or Moose to the colonials) on the other hand the long extinct Irish Elk was a deer (the largest known) and not an elk and recent evidence suggests that it was humped over the shoulders like a bison (or American Buffalo - which should't be confused with the asian buffalo, which is basical a big cow).

The reindeer might be confused with an elk since both work for Santa at this time of year but one is a semi domesticated herbivore and the other is some noxious child dressed in a green hat.

And as I rode by Dalton-Hall Beneath the turrets high, A maiden on the castle-wall Was singing merrily: The Outlaw by Sir Walter Scott

[This message has been edited by Philip Davis (edited 12-24-2000).]

Senior Member
posted 12-24-2000 01:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for duncan   Click Here to Email duncan     Edit/Delete Message
Red deer {Odocoileus virginianus} is not the same as an American Elk {Cervus Elaphus} or "Wapiti" which is an indian word for white and nor is it a moose {Alces alces}.
The red deer has an average length of 4-6 feet and a shoulder height of 2 3\4- 3 1\2 feet.
The elk has an average length of 7 1\2-
9 1\2 feet and a shoulder height of 4-5 feet.
The moose has a average length of 7 1\2-10 feet and a shoulder height of 5-6 1\2 feet. The one that was used on American TV was a very poor example being far under weight. Most look to be about the same as a small truck.
I've hunted all three in many states for food and not for sport. We do have a few Raindeer in the very far northern states {no referrence to Canada which is not a part of the US} and all kinds of the smaller critters that every one has at every shopping mall at this time of year for which i don't think there is an open season.
I forgot to say
To all of you and yours, we wish every one a

Megan and Ralph

[This message has been edited by duncan (edited 12-24-2000).]

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