Monday, September 17, 2012

Oxford Castle

So, thanks to the help of nighttime knock-you-out cold medicine, followed today by walking-around cold medicine, I was ambulatory if far from my bet today. We scaled back plans accordingly to things that cd be taken at a stroll, with frequent stops for tea. Our first stop was the Ashmolean, but to no avail, as it turns out they're closed on Mondays. Second stop was Oxford Castle, wh Janice had found out about online. I'd been a bit puzzled by this, since on a previous trip someone had pointed out to me the green erthen mound, looking exactly like a great barrow, that I'd been told was all that remains of the castle from wh the local lords once oppressed the local population.

Turns out this is not quite true: the mound is what's left of the main tower, but a smaller tower and some dungeons remain. The whole had been converted into a gaol, wh was not closed until 1996! The cruelty and brutality of 18th and 19th century justice was horrifying, but the most fascinating thing we learned was that Geoffrey of Monmouth, the man who more or less invented the King Arthur legend, lived and taught here at a school that preceded the university by a century or so. That, and the fact that at least one chamber still survives with the old mound, which you can climb up to but not enter: a stone-lined well chamber that wd do M. R. James proud.

After that we strolled about some until it was tea-time, when we met up w Walter Hooper, the man who's devoted forty-eight years (and counting) to edited C. S. Lewis and knows more about him than anyone else alive. It was a most pleasant meeting. After wards, we strolled about the town some more (down the Broad and bck up the High) until it was time for supper and an early to bed.

And now for more nighttime cold medicine and hopes of a less sniffly tomorrow.

--John. R.

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