Tuesday, 27 February 2018

A Walk Around the Walls

Traitor's Gate

Having passed through the gatehouses at the Tower of London, I soon discovered that there was no opportunity to stop and closely examine any of the stones and, from then on, I was just content to wander around the remaining towers and accessible walls and take photos that would later enable me to study the building stones in greater depth.

St. Thomas's Tower
Within five minutes of entering the castle, I had seen examples of Kentish rag, Reigate stone, Chilmark stone, Portland limestone and Bath stone and this had given me a good idea of what type of stones I might expect to see during the remainder of my visit.

St. Thomas's Tower and the Wakefield Tower

Like very many mediaeval churches that I had seen during the previous 9 months, the Tower of London has been extended and repaired and, as with many of these churches, some of the restorations have removed much of the original fabric and have not been very sensitive.

Reigate stone and Beer stone in the Cradle Tower

I particularly wanted to see examples of Caen stone, a Jurassic limestone that been extensively imported from Normandy after the Conquest in 1066. Although I had no doubt encountered it during previous visits to various ancient monuments in south-east England as a casual tourist, I hadn't yet examined it in my capacity as a geologist and building stone specialist.

A fireplace in the Salt Tower

Knowing that the Caen stone dressings to the exterior of the White Tower had been renewed with Portland limestone, I thought that I was most likely to see this in the interiors of the towers on the inner curtain wall; however, there were so many tourists of all ages and nationalities crammed into them that I couldn't make any detailed observations.

A view from the east wall

Remembering Traitor's Gate very well from my previous childhood visit, I first had a look at this, along with St. Thomas's Tower that rises above it, before making my way in an anti-clockwise direction around the wall to briefly visit the other towers.

A sundial on the Martin Tower

The stone to the curtain wall and to the exterior of the various towers essentially comprises Kentish ragstone with the dressings restored  in what I presume to be Chilmark stone but, in the interiors, Reigate stone can be seen in the ribs to the vaulted ceiling and which contrasts strongly with what I have since discovered is Beer stone – a hard chalk from the coast of Devon.

A view towards Tower Hill

Continuing along the eastern and northern walkways, although the towers are built from materials already seen elsewhere, the Museum of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and the Waterloo Block – built in the 19th century - make extensive use of Bath stone for dressings to the Kentish rag walling, as was common during this period.

Kentish ragstone and Bath stone dressings to the Waterloo Block

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