Appendix II

Glib Castle, Farnish

Glib Castle once had a fine domestic range, constructed on the site of the original Norman wooden structures, consisting of the great hall, kitchen, gatehouse, and chapel tower. It was built by Giles de Byrde around 1400. It cannot be determined now what was above the ground floor, but presumably a Solar and State apartment chambers. At that time the moat on the north and east sides was deepened and the walls thickened and given battered plinths, and the old gatehouse rebuilt entirely. The lower part of the bailey, in the area reclaimed from the marsh, held stabling and a barn, for Sir Giles was an avid hunter. It was made on landfill from the earth excavated when digging the moat, which is now badly silted up although still extremely marshy. There was also a water gate at the foot of the motte, where there is a landing for small boats. On the courtyard side the motte was cut back and revetted with a mantlet passageway connecting the hall with the water gate and keep stairway.

Glib Castle, near the tiny hamlet of Glib on the northwest coast, is a small Norman motte-and-bailey castle that is now in a very ruinous state. It was destroyed by Cromwellian troops after a brief siege in 1643 (see below for an account). The round keep tower, which is now such a picturesque feature of the site, was built on a small natural hill, scarped and augmented into a motte in the early 1100's; the bailey was constructed on the edge of a swampy area at the highest navigable reach of the River Glib. What remains is now a pig farm. The ground plan to the left is a conjectural reconstruction.

Like a fang, the remains of the keep stand up dramatically; one third of its circumference was destroyed by cannon but the rest survives to its full height. The best-preserved part of the medieval castle apart from the 'recycled' parts, is along the river bank. The gatehouses that were turned into cottages are nice to look at although somewhat decrepit and with no modern amenities. The pigs really stink, does that surprise you? [NOTE: this castle is not really open to the public (unless you apply at the farmhouse), except if you want a bit of booze, in which case go to the separate entrance to the skibbeen on the north side.] Everybody has the right to dock at the Water gate with no questions asked (that was one of the rights granted by Cromwell*) and it IS a legal way to sneak into Farnish and then to Great Britain without a visa if you are an international spy or terrorist -- but you might find the site locked up, so then tough titties! There really isn't much to see here.

* One of his mistakes, he was being generous to the smugglers of Farnish who were helping him out at the time, and it got enacted into law by Parliament, and is the only legal place in Great Britain where you can enter the country without inspection by customs and immigration. All of the major Intelligence services of the world know about this and have used it for years -- by mutual agreement they take turns posting a resident hit-man in the Water Gate cottage to take care of interloping drug-smugglers, etc. -- Oops, maybe I should't have mentioned this subject even if it's only an Unofficial Secret, but I can't be prosecuted for it because it really isn't true. --- GS

The scanty castle remains are in a sad state, but are still in use: A pig farm, with sties where the barn and stables were, in the lower bailey, two houses, based in the remains of the gatehouses, and a brewhouse (or skibbeen -- i.e., illicit still) occupy the site. Small vegetable gardens were built on top of the flattened ruins of the Chapel tower and the northern Gate tower, and an apple-tree orchard has been planted in the upper courtyard. Where the curtain walls were destroyed, lower modern replacements have been built to maintain the integrity of the precinct. The skibbeen can be entered by its own flimsy footbridge over the moat.

THE SIEGE of 1643

Roundhead Captain Jeremiah Poole was despatched with a company of 200 men and one cannon to secure the northern part of Farnish, then a hotbed of Royalists, especially in Farnisham, in the later months of 1643. Landing at Glib was unopposed, as most of the local militia was gathered in Gelling. Poole promptly marched his men half a mile upriver to just below the castle, then set up his cannon on high ground to the northeast. His strategy for taking the fort, manned by the bailiff Sam Donaldson and a garrison of 50 men and about 30 women and children, was simple enough. He bombarded the keep at its weakest point, a latrine tower, until part of it collapsed to the extent he could fire incendiaries into the building and burn its wooden interior, the stone shell acting as a chimney to burn out all the floors. That rendered the keep useless as a last retreat. At the same time, he sent a company of 20 riflemen (snipers, although they weren't called that back then) to stay hidden in the woods on the other side of the river from the water gate dock in case any of the garrison should decide to escape.

He then moved his cannon a few hundred yards east and destroyed the chapel tower -- it took two days to accomplish that feat. Though he had only the one cannon, there was plenty of ammunition, and there was no artillery at all based in the castle. The garrison congregated its defense into the rather formidable gatehouse and prepared for an assault. Poole didn't bother, just kept shelling until the great hall and kitchen burnt down and the northern gate tower crumbled. Donaldson tried to escape via the water gate and was of course killed by sniper fire. Glib Castle fell after its first siege in history without having fired a shot or arrow back in defense. Two of Poole's men were killed when the horses stampeded as the stables were being fired. Twelve women and children, in addition to about 20 male defenders, were killed in the 'siege'. Poole's comment was that it was their own fault, that they should have stayed home and milked the cows. Captain Poole was shot by a firing squad two years later for attempting to sell out to the Royalists in Farnisham -- he was resentful of not being promoted and being left in this backwater island. Poole's descendants (he married a Glib girl, Donaldson's daughter in fact) now own the pig farm. The famous cannon that made such short work of medieval fortification is now mounted in the town square in Gelling. It was a run-of-the-mill weapon of its ilk, but seems to have been perfectly bored as it never missed a shot.

Glib Hamlet has very little else to offer, although it was a very important site in Viking times as a stopover place -- in fact Glib is a shortening of the old term Gliblisaheimtal, as was mentioned (only once) in the Elder Edda. It is such a backwater now that "Glibites" are considered the rednecks of Farnish. There is, of course, the Brewery, which has been deemed illegal since the Middle Ages but has always been condoned. Movements in the past to tax it, clean it up, puritanize it, even make it legal, have never succeeded. This is nice, since there have never been more than 250 people living in the area but in effect they behave like an independent country, and of course they are all related to each other so a jury of peers will never convict. Sam Whelp was transferred to Liverpool for his trial when he was arrested in 1928 for smuggling, but the jury there was Irish and refused to convict him. That strategy hasn't been tried again.