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Castle Rating for Kids

Show what kids REALLY like about ancient monuments.
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The British Isles are liberally sprinkled with castles and other ancient monuments. The guide books are filled with worthy and learned pronouncements from historians and archaeologists about the sigificance of this or that antiquity.

These books invariably ignore the interests of the younger members of the family, who, as yet unburdened with the weight of the ages, care not one whit that Edward I launched his campaign against Llewellyn from this particular pile, and are indifferent to the military importance of that lofty redoubt.

No. Children are far more interested in tall towers ascended by narrow spiral staircases, gloomy underground passages leading to dank chambers, and piles of fallen masonary which can be scaled to gain access to otherwise inaccessible apertures.

I suggest that the writers of guide books devise a system of symbols to represent these (and other) youth friendly features, and publish these alongside the more ponderous and scholarly text.

Mickey the Fish, Aug 18 2000

Schlosshotels (Castle Hotels) http://www.schlosshotels.co.at/estart.htm
for rorourke [beauxeault, Aug 18 2000, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Stonehenge replica http://www.stonehen...rg.uk/news.htm#dome
Historical site being turned into a horrid plastic thing [tobythepig, Jan 07 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Gouffre de Padirac http://3wcom2.apm-online.fr/index.htm
no problems with condensation here [lewisgirl, Jan 07 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]


       When I was 9, my dad's company sent him to work in Germany for the summer. We went to SOOOOOO many castles. I was SOOOOOO bored. I mean, I was not a big fan of the old historic houses I was dragged to in the states, but the castles were boredom times five, because they were that much bigger! Plus it was often hard to understand the guides. Not that historic-site guides anywhere ever say anything but - "Note the fleur de lis velvet wallpaper. This would have cost the equivalent of fifty thousand in 1985 dollars. Baron Von Sniffensnuff's authentic socks can be seen under the bed, just as he left them the day he died."
andreamer, Oct 04 2000

       Ludwig's 'castles' are more like mansions than actual castles. The ones that were intended for defense, for real people to live in, are much more interesting.
StarChaser, Oct 05 2000

       I remember seeing Ludwig's castles as a kid and thinking that they were just about the only castles I had seen where the decor was actually interesting. I mean, scenes from Wagner all over the place may not seem like it would be enthralling to children, but at least it's scenes from something, you know? It's like a great big fantasy playhouse. With artificial grottoes and stuff. If Ludwig had been into Batman instead of Wagner, it would have been perfect.
baf, Nov 05 2000

       <grins> I actually like them too...the game 'Gabriel Knight 2' had a huge amount of information as part of the game on them...Want to visit them someday...
StarChaser, Nov 05 2000

       I think Wagner must have been the Batman of Ludwig's time... because from what I read about him, he would have dug Batman.   

       This is a great idea--show me the secret passages and where the dungeons were...
ElectraSteph, Feb 07 2001

       I think the big prob with the castles is that you can't go where you please. I'd love to be able to freely explore Neuschwanstein.
Vance, Feb 14 2001

       Could we have "Theme park rating for Adults", too? - for when you're being dragged somewhere loud and plastic by your kids.
Jim, Mar 13 2001, last modified Apr 09 2001

       And the reason you can't go anywhere you like is that people are solid-waste-evacuation-portals, and will do things like carve their initals in the paintings illustrating the operas...
StarChaser, Mar 13 2001

       I think that's a great idea, to add interesting details to the guidebook listings and tours. Even adults who are interested in history and archeology ask themselves these questions and wonder about the same things we did when we were younger. The questions were never answered, so of course they're still there.   

       There's a castle in Toronto, Canada that does answer this question. They offer a guided tour, and when that's over you can go around the place by yourselves to investigate many of the 'secret passages' and the like. It's called Casa Loma, and was like that when I was there about ten years ago. They also used it in a movie, but I can't remember what movie it was. We had great fun!   

       One day I really want to go to Ireland and Germany and find castles of an even grander scale to investigate. It would also be great if one of them operated as a hotel, where you can stay over in your own castle bedroom for the evening. For those of us with our imaginations still intact castles still are a source of endless dreams.
rorourke, Apr 13 2001

       rorourke: See the Schlosshotels link for a "chain" of castles that offer rooms for rent. Unfortunately, many of their properties are not real "castles," but many are, too. And there are many more that are not affiliated with Schlosshotels. My favorite from experience is at Hirschhorn am Neckar, near Heidelburg, Germany. In southwest France, they are so numerous that rates are quite reasonable. In some cases you can even rent the entire castle for a week at a time. You can even stay at the Wartburg castle, where Martin Luther hid out from the pope and first translated the Bible into a language that the common man could read.
beauxeault, Apr 13 2001

       Where there are ramparts cantilevered from the top of the wall, often the ramparts extend beyond the outside face of the wall. In the floor of these ramparts one can sometimes find holes used for defecation (purportedly also in battle). I remember being particularly intrigued as a child by this particular mode of defense, particularly when one considered what a tempting target it could offer to a daring archer.
beauxeault, May 09 2001

       The garderobe is a small room that projects from the outer surface of the wall as an 'upstairs latrine'. The holes in the floor of the ramparts were to allow defenders to attack those at the base of the wall. They were probably used as latrines as well, but that wasn't their primary purpose.
StarChaser, May 09 2001

       I got all excited when I saw this topic, thinking it was 'cattle raising for kids.' Sigh.
innerlemming, Oct 04 2001

       I thought it was about bouncy castles
po, Oct 06 2001

       This idea is interesting, as it would create a competitive pressure amongst castle owners to add things interesting to kids to what they already have. Like people dressed up as ghosts randomly jumping out from dark corners at people as they passed. Creating piles of rubble for kids to explore. Food to be torn apart and eaten with hands alone. Bloody corpses hanging from stakes. Witches being burnt at stakes. Plague victims in piles. Lots of jobs created anyway for the tough. What other medieval diversions might keep kids amused and happy? I suppose we'd have to have the inevitable multimedia PCs with virtual versions of same in the banqueting hall.
mkirksmith, Dec 11 2001

       "Food to be torn apart and eaten with hands alone" - baked. I've been on a medieval experience banquit with entertainers, wenches, chicken, bread and ale ... but no cutlery.   

       And on the thought of medieval diversions keeping kids happy - a friend of mine once had a job playing The Sheriff of Nottingham (evil tyrant of Robin Hood fame) in a 'family history' centre. He had great fun scaring the kids until told he was doing too good a job...   

       My hobby is Live Role Playing (LRP). This is a game where you take on a persona, such as a knight or teacher depending on when the game is set, and act as that chacter whatever happens to you.   

       One group I play with runs modern day horror games. If I'm helping run the game, rather than playing, I'm often called upon to take on bit-parts: ghost, half-burried corpse, zombie, I've done them all. And all to keep the kids (aged 20-40) happy :)   

       PS have a crossant Mickey
tobythepig, Jan 07 2002

       I think it's a good idea, but it might end up with historical things being turned into horrid plastic "castle adventure land" things geared specifically for kids.( because that's where the money is)
mephisto, Jan 07 2002

       [mephisto] There's a horrible plan to build a replica of Stonehenge (England's famous stone circle) at a visitor centre a few miles away, ostenstensibly to give them a better experience, but mainly, critics say, to divert tourists away from the real thing.
tobythepig, Jan 07 2002

       Re: Stonehenge. Sounds fine by me, toby. They've already done something similar with the caves at Lascaux, with tourists, documentary makers, etc., not being allowed access to the real thing. It had to be done to prevent the deterioration of the paintings as idiot visitors stuck their fingers all over them, going 'Ooooh!'. If you want to maintain a site of that level of historical import, for archaeology or just for future generations, I'd say give the gawping tourists their replicas and tacky visitor centres. It would be nice if they just had the replica, tastefully devoid of gift shop and grinning-monkey tour guides, but I reckon that may be asking for the moon on a stick.   

       On topic: I do think this is a smashing idea. Croissant.
Guy Fox, Jan 07 2002

       Actually, Guy, the Lascaux cave had to be closed to visitors because the moisture from all those exhaling lungs would condense on the rock surfaces, leaching out minerals from the rock and covering the paintings with a white haze that eventually would have obliterated them forever. This process may well have occurred in many painted caves that were not (as was Lascaux) sealed to the outside shortly after they were painted.   

       The Lascaux replica is, by all expert accounts I've read, virtually indistinguishable from the actual cave once you're inside (although I'd guess the real cave doesn't have that paved walkway on the floor).   

       There's also one cave near Lascaux (Font de Gaume) that contains similar polychrome paintings, and which is still open to the public, though only twenty people at a time are allowed in, and even that cave may have to be closed.   

       I've toured both, and was not able to tell any qualitative difference between the real Font de Gaume and the fake Lascaux paintings, though there is a special thrill knowing that it's the real thing. Also, the magnificence of the paintings along with the emphasis on their fragility really inhibits any desire to touch them. I did have to sneeze while I was in Font de Gaume, though, and the tour guides nearly had heart attacks until they saw that I had fully covered my mouth and nose with both hands.
beauxeault, Jan 07 2002

       I've been to Lascaux too, when I was about 13, and I knew it was very cool but couldn't say so because I had an automatic revulsion to anything remotely involving history. I am only now weaning myself off this revulsion.
However, in the same area of France there is a place called Gouffre de Padirac which I absolutely loved, and which would score very highly on a 'Stalactite Rating For Budding Geomorphologists' scale. Have postcards, could scan, will try to find website instead.
lewisgirl, Jan 07 2002

       [Guy] Stonehenge has been fenced off for a few years, mainly to stop the hippies et al using for festivals. At least the plan is to offer a replica which appeals to families (nice food, play area, exhibition etc) and also open up the actual stones to visitors again. I guess it is actually a good solution - I just get sickened by the idea of a plastic henge. But hey, if people want to go see the replica and have a good day out with exhibition etc, why not. At least they'll leave me, at the real site, in peace ;)
tobythepig, Jan 08 2002

       Perhaps the people at Stonehenge could simultaneous put in a bid to replace Wembley, just make those stones 8 feet high and 24 feet across . . .
daruma, Jan 08 2002


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