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The British Castle: A Woman's Place

Archaeologist Professor Roberta Gilchrist discusses the place of women in the history of British castles.

Very often the visitor to a medieval castle in Britain is confronted with a mass of information and interpretation about the military activities of the men who inhabited these spaces, but very little about the women. Archaeologist Prof. Roberta Gilchcrist is keen to correct this imbalance, and argues that traditional interpretations of castles ignore the gendered spaces - the gardens, the apartments, the kitchens where female servants cooked, or indeed the adjoining parklands where aristocratic women occasionally hunted. There is abundant evidence that women gave birth in castles, and also had a hand in interior design, improving both plumbing and d├ęcor. Moreover, some women played a key role in the defence of medieval castles, in the absence of the lord. Archaeological research suggests women definitely did have a place in British castle history.

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