Sunday, July 7, 2013

I can see France from my castle!

Track 7/06: The Decemberists: "We Both Go Down Together"

I've always been skeptical that one could see Russia from Alaska, but it is true that on a clear day one can see the coast of France from Dover Castle! This is one of many facts I learned on my day trip this Saturday to Dover and Canterbury to explore some areas of Southeast England that have been settled by humans since the Neolithic period (6500-4500 years ago).

Henry II's Great Tower
Constable's Gate

Dover Castle is perched atop the white cliffs, and there has been a fortification on the site since before Roman times due to this strategically defensible position overlooking both the Channel and town. It was only attacked once, in 1216, which prompted the construction of the medieval tunnels to improve defenses.
Medieval Tunnels

A Cathedral Resident
After Dover Castle it was on to Canterbury, which also has a long human history, but certainly the fame of Canterbury is the Cathedral. There was an early Cathedral and Abbey since around 600, but the current "modern" Cathedral building began in 1070, though it was not completed until 1510. After the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket in the Cathedral in 1170 'miracles' began occurring and it became a pilgrimage center (Chaucer, anyone?). The Cathedral is absolutely stunning, and it's difficult to grasp its scale through photos. Construction must have been a Pillars of the Earth-esque feat.


With so many learning experiences this weekend it was necessary to spend Sunday exploring the retail landscape of London which is just as fantastic as the architecture. The favorite store of all of us junior librarians is Cath Kidston, where we have all done our part to ensure the British economy stays strong. Caution: do not enter their store or website expecting your willpower to stand strong.

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