Sandal Castle in Wakefield has long been a mystery to those who visit it. So little remains that it has taken an act of imagination to conceive of the majestic fortress that once overlooked the town of Wakefield. As the ruin has been forgotten, so has its history. In 1460 Sandal Castle overlooked a turning point, at the dawn of the Wars of the Roses. In The Battle of Wakefield 1460 we examine the events of that year and question the received version of events, as painted by the victors. In Building Sandal's Castles we show the development of the many castles that have existed on the site and, through extensive researched, make it possible to see the castle once again! We even show the plans that Richard III made for the site, but never accomplished in his lifetime.
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From the Reviews
"This is even better than the previous Middleham Castle DVD. You are treated to a computer graphic reconstruction of Sandal Castle, a thrilling depiction of the Battle of Wakefield, an Oscar-deserving soundtrack and a mystery solved - ever wondered what really happened to the Princes in the Tower? Oh, and you get Robert Hardy thrown into the bargain as well. The Battle of Wakefield is an important prelude to why the later battles of Towton and Bosworth happened so, this is a must-see for all Medieval History enthusiasts."
George P. Algar, Author of The Shepherd Lord
"This is a delighting, informative video, but it does not pretend to be objective, or to stick to the received text of history. That is, its Yorkist sympathies are clear, and its conclusions are frankly pro-Ricardian. Nonetheless, it offers a persuasive, fresh account of the Battle of Wakefield, and, though its eponymous subject is Sandal Castle, the result provides keen insight into the role castles played in both the military and political machinations of the Middle Ages." (excerpt)
Dana Huntley, Editor of British Heritage Magazine, 300th Anniversary Special Issue
"While the voices of Robert Hardy and Richard Dodd represent ‘the chronicler’ and Richard III respectively, this double DVD is very much a Fox family production, in compilation, presentation and even in the production of an original award-winning musical score (available as a separate CD). Described as part of ‘The Richard III Collection’, the DVD does not disguise its pro-Yorkist stance; nevertheless, I can highly recommend it.
"The DVD presents two films: the first reinterprets contemporary accounts of the Battle of Wakefield, the most momentous historic event that the castle is connected with; the second describes the foundation anddevelopment of the castle through to its destruction during the Civil War. There is also a set of stills.
"Considering the sorry remnants that have survived from this once magnificent building, the compilers have done a wonderful job in collating evidence from the standing remains, past excavations, Tudor surveys, 13th century building accounts and other documentation. They have also made excellent and critical use of the one superb piece of pictorial evidence, the drawing of 1562, in their interpretation. Both films use photography of the site as it stands today, still reconstruction drawings and computer-generated virtual reconstructions to restore life to this important castle. It is disconcerting but extremely effective to see the presenter transported from the stark ruin into a functioning building! The DVD can be considered a valuable educational tool: we see the construction of the Norman hall, timber by timber; we see the layout of the domestic buildings through time; we see portcullises, murder holes, drawbridges and targes in operation; we see the field of fire covered by arrow-loops concisely demonstrated; we are taken through a step-by-step tour of the gatehouse, domestic ranges, inner barbican and great tower. Similarly, computer-generated maps make the authors’ revision of the Battle of Wakefield clear to follow. I was particularly impressed by the copious use of parallels: not only were Middleham, Conisburgh and the entry arrangements at the Tower of London used to good effect, but there was a stunning analysis of the potential similarities between the great tower and the donjons at Houdan and Etampes. All three donjons are built virtually, floor by floor, before our eyes. In the scheme of things it would be nit-picking of me to query the presented interpretation of the top floors of these buildings, as it would to criticize the widely-spaced buildings and sanitized appearance of the motte and bailey reconstruction, for these films use stunning effects to present a coherent and well-researched overview and a refreshing reinterpretation of an important medieval castle and the figures who influenced its development throughout its history."
Pamela Marshall www.realmsofgold.co.uk, Castle Studies Group Journal No. 24: 2010-11
The DVD also includes partial reconstructions of Houdan and Etampes in France and glimpses of Conisbrough and Holt.