Vale Castle, Guernsey

Vale Castle, is a protected building located in the Vale, Guernsey.[1] The original name was “Le Chateau St Michel”, later it became “Chateau de Val” or “Chateau de Valle” and is over 1,000 years old. It defends both St. Sampson’s harbour at the eastern end of the Braye du Valle, Guernsey, and Bordeaux Harbour.

Vale Castle curtain wall and gateway

. . . Vale Castle, Guernsey . . .

A tidal passage separated the north of Guernsey from the rest of Guernsey. Earthworks dating from 500 to 600 BC, comprising a double ditch and bank, indicate that an Iron Age fort existed on the hill where Vale Castle now sits.[2]

Around A.D. 968, monks from the Benedictine monastery of Mont Saint-Michel, came to Guernsey to establish the Abbey of St Michael, a community in the north of the island.

According to tradition, Robert II, Duke of Normandy (the father of William the Conqueror), was journeying to England in 1032 to help Edward the Confessor. He was obliged to take shelter in Guernsey and gave land, now known as the Clos du Valle, to the monks.[3]

In 1061, when pirates attacked and pillaged the island, a complaint was made to Duke William. He sent over Sampson D’Anneville, who succeeded, with the aid of the monks, in driving the pirates out. For this service, Sampson D’Anneville and the monks were rewarded with a grant of half the island between them. The portion going to the monastery, known as Le Fief St Michel, included the land where the castle is located. The castle of Saint Michael (now Vale Castle), was constructed to protect the population against pirates by providing a safe refuge.[4]

It is not possible to identify when the medieval works were started, possibly in the late 10th-century.[5]:130–1 During the English Channel naval campaign (1338–1339), the French captured the island and then the castle, where they put its defenders to death. The occupying forces withdrew in 1340 after the Battle of Sluys crippled the French navy.

In 1372 Owain Lawgoch, a claimant to the Welsh throne, led a free company on behalf of France in an attack on Guernsey. The assault was popularly called “La Descente des Aragousais”. Owain Lawgoch withdrew after killing 400 of the island militia,[6] The poem of the same name refers to the castle as the Château de l’Archange, the location of the last ditch stand against the insurgents.[7]:34

Vale Castle 15th-century gatehouse

. . . Vale Castle, Guernsey . . .

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. . . Vale Castle, Guernsey . . .