Compiled from the writings of the late Richard H. H. Holmes.
THE ROUND TOWER
This huge cross-wall joins right up to, what must have been in the days of
its prime and certainly is to-day in its ruin, the most impressive piece
of the whole collection of buildings which comprised the Castle – the
Round Tower, which oddly is neither round nor a tower.
What the Normans found here was a steep knob of somewhat soft sandstone.
Following the inherent weaknesses and strengths of the natural rock, the
builders cut away the soft and weathered outer parts until they had a
core roughly seventy feet in diameter in essence with three much smaller
circular segments abutting upon it. All this they then faced with a very
strong casing of stonework, carried out in a much harder and more
permanent material than that which they had removed, and than that which
they thus enveloped.
At the level at the top of the mound – fifty or sixty feet above the
level at which they had commenced their work – the Normans continued
their walling so as to produce a circular Keep some sixty feet in
diameter and probably twenty-five feet high. This must indeed have been
a noble structure, well worthy of Bishop Gundulph, architect of both the
Tower of London and of Rochester Castle, who is thought possibly to have
influenced the architect of Pontefract, if he did not hold that office
The base of the Keep, though solid, was soft enough to permit of reasonably
easy excavation, and a small door-way on the west, at the foot, looking
out over the graft (or dry moat), reveals a small steep staircase in two
flights of 12 steps and 21 steps, cut through the solid heart of the
hill, and giving access to a little landing or platform on the south
side, at the foot of a further flight of irregular stone steps external
to the main building, but probably at one time roofed and well