West Yorkshire market town of Pontefract
 
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Pontefract Local History

PONTEFRACT CASTLE

Compiled from the writings of the late Richard H. H. Holmes.

THE WALLS AND ITS TOWERS

Resuming a circumambulation interrupted by a diversion commencing at the postern door in the base of the Keep, we find on our left the western graft and on the right some of the most impressive surviving masonry of the Castle – the western sections of the great wall, which in a score of splays, enclosed the Castle Yard, with half a dozen towers along its length.

The first of these was Piper Tower (which Boothroyd annoys Holmes by calling Pix Tower, having apparently read as ‘x’ a sign accepted in those days as a contraction for ‘per’). This faces Northgate and is the only tower of which any appreciable remains still stand – and that notwithstanding that it was the only tower which gave way to the besiegers, who, on 19th January 1645, pierced it at practically the first attempt, a three day bombardment, delivered from across the graft, at barely 40 yards range.

Piper Tower, it must here be noted, also had a postern door, and it was in the ruins of this tower, at about this door, that three of the 1648 garrison, to whom quarter was refused at the surrender, were hidden, making their escape on the following night.

As he passes before the ruins of Gascoigne Tower the visitor finds the path rising steadily, enabling him to cross easily the rough limestone core remaining of the once so carefully faced boundary wall of the Castle Yard.


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