Last year I spent several days visiting some of the heartlands of William Marshal and his family in Wales and the Marches. The photograph on the left is of the castle doors at Chepstow Castle. The latter was known as Striguil in William's time. The stronghold came to him on his marriage to Isabelle de Clare. He had to wait another ten years for Pembroke.
I love these doors. It always gives me a thrill - a real feeling of being within reaching distance when I come across items like this. The dendechronology dates these doors to around 1190 - the period when William first became lord of Chepstow/Striguil. He would have commissioned them and when in residence he would have seen them on a daily basis. The castle guidebook says that these doors were revolutionary in their construction. The lattice framework is the earliest known example of mortice and tenon joints in the UK and the techniques employed have been adapted from ship-building ones. The doors are over 800 years old and are thought to be the oldest castle doors surviving in Europe. Fantastic!
On the writing front I was delighted and a little stunned by this week's Bookseller, which headed its Historical Fiction section of the July Paperback Previews with The Greatest Knight and said: 'I cannot be more pleased with what at last is happening for this wonderful author: recognition. This follows the life of William Marshal from the age of five through a turbulant Plantagenet period until Richard returns from the Crusades. I understand there is to be a sequel taking this great medieval knight into his later years. I look forward to it.'
An accolade from The Bookseller is difficult to obtain and an excellent prognosis for sales, so obviously I'm very pleased indeed - although strangely I feel more delighted for William than I do myself!