60 Build your own castle
Haven’t got space for a medieval castle? CHRIS LEIGH urges you to think again.
Haven’t got space for a medieval castle? Chris Leigh urges you to think again with his recreation of a small Welsh keep.
From the outset, I wanted my harbour layout (MR216) to have a Tintagel-style castle perched on the edge of the cliff. The only problem was a lack of space. A family holiday in North Wales provided the answer. With a history teacher, a Welsh medievalist, and children who love knights in armour and princesses held captive in stone towers, it was small wonder that we visited six castles in six days!
Among the likes of the sizable Harlech and Conwy castles was Dolwyddelan, little more than a square stone keep. This, I could fit - just - in one corner of the layout.
Every castle has a story and mine is no exception. It was built a thousand years ago by a Welsh warlord who took refuge in Cornwall. Desperate to keep out marauding pirates, he built a castle with a tiny harbour below it. After his death, the castle fell into disrepair and, due to coastal erosion, the outer wall fell into the sea, leaving just the square keep. This was restored in the Victorian era as a dwelling, but subsequently abandoned as the lady of the house decided that the Atlantic storms on one side and noisy trains on the other were too much to bear.
Now, the castle’s Cornish corruption of its original Welsh name has been adopted by the village and the harbour - ‘Polwyddelan’.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
I was not concerned about dimensional accuracy as I had a finite space on the layout. While I did reduce the ‘footprint’ compared to the size of the real thing, I wanted to keep the proportions looking right. I had space for a structure 80mm square, and on that basis it looked about right at 180mm high. At this size it would dominate the harbour and also provide a good scenic break where the railway passes into the fiddleyard.
I used the expanded polystyrene packaging from some Hornby Skaledale models to provide the flat areas on which the buildings would stand and I found a piece of packaging just the right size for the castle keep. This was then blended into the landscape with a web of masking tape, plaster bandage and Woodland Scenics Shaper Sheet. I would have preferred the castle site to be further from the railway, but there simply wasn’t the space, unless I’d compromised the already small harbour.
Above: The castle keep at Dolwyddelan, which was theinspiration for the model.Main: Dolwyddelan Castle in Snowdonia National Park, NorthWales.