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Lancashire Life - - ART & CULTURE - PHO­TOG­RA­PHY: Alex Ram­say

Your chance to study the fas­ci­nat­ing

his­tory of Lan­caster Cas­tle

It’s one of the county’s most fa­mous build­ings, but how much do you know about Lan­caster Cas­tle? If you want to find out more, a new course start­ing next month will shed light on the cas­tle’s fas­ci­nat­ing and var­ied his­tory, from its dark days as a medieval strong­hold through to life as a Cat­e­gory C prison.

Once a hold­ing jail for the fa­mous Lan­cashire Witches, the cas­tle, which now has a bright future as an ex­cit­ing tourist attraction, will be the sub­ject of a new, free Mas­sive Open On­line Course (MOOC).

The short, web-based course will be the first of its kind run by Lan­caster Uni­ver­sity’s His­tory Department and will give par­tic­i­pants an overview of the cas­tle’s past across two mil­len­nia, from the Ro­mans to the 20th cen­tury.

It will in­clude sec­tions on the Ro­man coastal fort and its re­la­tion­ship to the north­ern fron­tier of the em­pire; the role of the Nor­man cas­tle in An­glo-scot­tish war­fare and the emer­gence of the Duchy of Lan­caster; and the cas­tle’s role as a prison for the Lan­cashire Witches. The course will also

cover the cas­tle’s time as a debtors’ prison in the 18th and 19th cen­turies, prison re­form; the im­pact of the world wars on the cas­tle and the cas­tle’s importance to the re­gion’s her­itage.

The MOOC is or­gan­ised and run by the Regional Her­itage Cen­tre (RHC) based in the His­tory Department, with the as­sis­tance of a team of MOOC spe­cial­ists from Lan­caster Uni­ver­sity’s In­for­ma­tion Sys­tems Ser­vices. The cre­ation of the course has been sup­ported and fa­cil­i­tated by the Duchy of Lan­caster, the owner of Lan­caster Cas­tle and Lan­cashire Mu­se­ums Ser­vice, who op­er­ate daily tours at the cas­tle. The Duchy’s chief fi­nance officer and lead for the cas­tle, Chris Ad­cock said: ‘Lan­caster Cas­tle is a his­toric building of ma­jor in­ter­na­tional importance and in­ter­est. We are very pleased the uni­ver­sity is mak­ing its rich and com­plex his­tory avail­able to a wider au­di­ence and will be fol­low­ing the MOOC with in­ter­est in the months ahead.’

And RHC Dr Fiona Ed­monds di­rec­tor added: ‘Lan­caster Cas­tle is an out­stand­ing his­tor­i­cal site, not only be­cause it is so vis­ually im­pres­sive, but also be­cause its his­tory is multi-lay­ered. This course en­ables us to show­case the fas­ci­nat­ing past of North West Eng­land for a global au­di­ence.’

Reg­is­tra­tion is now open for ‘Lan­caster Cas­tle and North­ern English His­tory: the View from the Strong­hold’. The course starts on Mon­day Oc­to­ber 29, and will help par­tic­i­pants de­velop their fa­mil­iar­ity with a long sweep of his­tory in re­la­tion to the cas­tle and to un­der­stand the regional con­text of broader his­tor­i­cal trends.

ABOVE: Lan­caster Cas­tle’s ‘A’ wing. and, be­low left,cells in the prison (Pho­to­graphs re­pro­duced by kind per­mis­sion of the Duchy of Lan­caster)

ABOVE: The im­pos­ing en­trance to Lan­caster Cas­tle and, be­low, the Shire Hall

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