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Looking back: ‘Scallywags’ scaled 50ft Pevensey Castle walls
7:00pm Wednesday 7th August 2013 in News
Petty vandals succeeded where countless armies failed when they breached the defences at Pevensey Castle.
But instead of raising their standard or imprisoning the inhabitants, they stole just £3 worth of toy soldiers.
The fortress, which has existed on the site in many guises for more than 1,000 years, was founded by the Romans.
It’s 12ft-thick walls made it impenetrable and it was even earmarked as a potential defence against Nazi Germany in the Second World War.
But on a summer’s night in 2000, the unthinkable happened – it was breached.
Two scallywags are thought to have shimmied up and over the 50fthigh walls before heading for the gift shop.
They then prised open a security shutter and plundered the kiosk of its toy Roman soldiers.
An irate Allison Muir, head custodian at the castle, told The Argus at the time medieval punishment was in order.
Referring to the castle’s makeshift dungeon, she told our reporter: “I’d like to throw whoever did this down the Oubliette.
“This castle belongs to the country, so when something here is smashed or broken everyone is paying for the repairs.
“I have a great love of the castle and it hurts when people abuse it like this.”
The castle itself has a rich and at times bloody history starting with its Roman origins.
It was overwhelmed by the Saxons in 491 where it is said that every single defender was put to the sword.
A new inner bailey was constructed but it was deserted for many years until William of Normandy landed at Pevensey and his half brother built an earth and timber castle on the site.
It has withheld countless sieges and invading forces ever since and in the process gained a reputation as one of the country’s greatest strongholds. Until that night.
Sussex Police issued an appeal for witnesses to the incident but the culprits were never found.
ON THIS DAY
1420: Construction of the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore begins in Florence.
1952: English comedian, actor and author Alexei Sayle is born.
1976: Viking 2 enters orbit around Mars.
1960: The Ivory Coast becomes independent.
1989: US Congressman Mickey Leland and 15 others die in a plane crash in Ethiopia.
1998: 212 people die in the US Embassy bombings in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya.
The Argus’ popular “Looking Back” feature has been compiled into an A4, soft back book which catalogues the events that have made their mark on the people of Sussex. The fascinating archive of “Looking Back” images dates back to the 1930s when The Argus first started to print photographs. The book costs £6.99 including postage and packing. To order please visit theargus.co.uk/store
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