Almondsey


Hamnet Castle, Estalia

The fortified Estalian town of Hamnet, located just below the start of the Lin Gorge, is the only large population center in North Estalia. Its walls originally date to medieval times but were considerably altered for artillery, especially along the west side, in the 18th Century. At the southeast corner of the town, where the River Plaite meets the River Lin, is the strong medieval castle. The castle keep, kitchen tower, and great hall were built in the 14th Century, other buildings being added later. It is the official home of the Duke of North Estalia.


The castle is in the southeast corner of the town, where the small river Plaite serves as a moat, inside the town wall, where the Southgate leads into the downriver road. Three small outbuildings are outside the wall -- a small dock with a watchtower on the Lin and two 'gazebos' on a small island in a damned-up portion of the Plaite. The keep and great hall building overlooks the stream. Inside Southgate is the tall castle gatehouse, a trapezoidal structure, with the garrison quarters in the outer ward. Along the north side, facing the market square, is an earthen mound with the kitchen and garderobe tower along the curtain wall, and a postern gate on the west side.


The northern portion of the castle contains the garrison and service quarters, with its prominent kitchen tower that also contains servants' dormitories (and a vaulted cellar under the kitchen). The staircase turret of the latter is continued up several stories to serve as a bell tower or 'minaret'. Two floors of barracks rooms are over the garrison hall. Southgate is integrated into the gatehouse defenses, and above the portcullis and guard chambers are the Colonel's quarters (he was castellan of the fortress). A three-level cloister surrounds the interior of the outer court on two sides. Entry to the inner court is through an ornamental small gateway. The great hall wing and keep is the official residence of the Duke of North Estalia.


Upper levels: The kitchen tower is five stories tall (including the cellar) and in plan is D-shaped. There are four stories to the Great Hall -- the double-height great hall and two floors of bedrooms, with an additional caphouse atop the garderobe tower at the southwest corner. The keep contains the following rooms: A basement (wine cellar and his lordship's private provisions), an office where official business was transacted next to the great hall, the solar or withdrawing room, the sitting room or library, the Duke's bed chamber, and his private study; the top or garret floor is battlemented and housed his lordship's personal attendants; the southeast turret is a watch tower. The upper part of the gatehouse contains the armory and a rooftop gun platform, more for show than anything else as the walls are very thin here. Note the turret roundels.


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