Or at least happy for me due to the sheer number of castles there were. Whether my parents have such rosy memories of a fortnight of constant rain while stuck in a tent with three children, I'm not so sure.
Fortunately for Dan Snow there were plenty of castles and no rain, though he had a fairly rugged looking waterproof with him just in case. What I didn't realise when I was eight, but which became obvious last night, is that all these motte and bailey castles weren't for brave villagers to hide in when the Vikings attacked (at the time I was ready to blame the Vikings for pretty much everything), they were for French noblemen to live in while they re-educated those villagers as to who was now running things around here.
These were stony statements of intent; a message to any troublesome local chieftains that there was no point in resisting the change in government that was marching up the valley towards them.
As Dan Snow pointed out, Grosmont, Skenfrith and White castles were the physical embodiment of the power of the Normans. This was emphasised by the fact that there was no pattern to where they were situated, except that each was placed where it would have maximum impact on the rebellious tribes.
But it also made me think about how the pace of an invasion has changed. When the Normans came to an area that they wanted to control they built a castle. Something which, I'm guessing, took a little while. It's like 'Shock & Awe' in slow motion - but with better architecture.
Overall though, Dan Snow uncovering history on foot has made me want to go visit my nearest castle. If you're feeling similarly inspired, then Hands on History have a selection of Norman Walks that you can follow yourself. To get a closer look at some Norman castles, then try the walks in Lewes, Heddingham or Carlisle.
The walks don't seem too strenuous and it looks to me like many of them provide ample opportunities to read up on your history in a café or teashop. The joy of a good walk is that there's always time for a little something on the way. I bet Dan had a biscuit or two in his backpack.
- Dan Snow's Norman Walks concludes Wednesday 22 Aug on BBC Two, and you can watch the first two episodes on BBC iPlayer.
- Hands on History have Norman activity packs and a Norman timeline available from their website.
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