The making of the Great Tower at Dover Castle

The Great Tower at Dover Castle was built by Henry II in the late 12th century. It is an English Heritage property. In 2009 the tower was reopened following a huge project to re-present the interiors.

The great tower, Dover Castle

Unlike most projects that focus on just a couple of rooms in a building at Dover they have furnished and decorated the building nearly in its entirety. To do this they have gone beyond reproductions of existing items of 12th century furniture and instead embraced a wide range of research processes to produce the results.

The aim of the project was to evoke the appearance and atmosphere of the interiors on the occasion of a major royal event in the 12th century. The team working on the project stems not just from heritage professionals but historians, designers, craftspeople and artists. Following a large body of research instead of producing copies of items the furnishings and fittings were created in the 12th century mindset of design and creation. In doing so the project embraces uncertainty and creativity in its envisioning of the 12th century.

I feel that this idea should be embraced in the creation of CGI images as well. Throughout my thesis I have been asked by medievalists to provide hard evidence for each decision I have made. Although this is necessary to give my work substance I feel we should be embracing subjectivity at the same time. We should be moving towards this type of research and engagement following the research of the hard evidence embracing the style and design concepts of the period instead of just trying to trace real items from the medieval period, which we already acknowledge as few and far between.

The results at Dover are stunning, personally I feel visiting them provides a feel for 12th century life in a way that cannot be accessed through empty rooms and partially decorated spaces.

Soot above the fireplace at Dover Castle

Soot above the fireplace at Dover Castle


More information about the project can be found here.

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2 thoughts on “The making of the Great Tower at Dover Castle

  1. i was working at Dover last weekend. It’s fascinating to see how people read the spaces. It certainly provokes engagement and people understand that it’s putting ideas into play rather than being definitive.

    • That’s what I love about the potential for all these technologies. I like to present them as (well researched) starts to a conversation about experience rather than the end point of interpretation.

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