Castle Slighting in the Middle Ages
The use of destruction in the past, its purpose and function, is poorly understood and an under-studied area. With hundreds of excavations at castles, there is a body of archaeological evidence that can be synthesised into a study of destruction. Slighting is the damage of a high-status structure, its associated landscape and contents to degrade its value. This article aims to bring the study of destruction into the established discourse of castles and medieval archaeology. It does this by establishing a methodological framework for understanding slighting and examines its application at key sites. In doing so, a chronology and geography of slighting is produced, along with a rich understanding of how and why castles were destroyed in the medieval period. Case studies of Weston Turville (Buckinghamshire) and Degannwy (Caernarfonshire) are used to explore how the archaeological and historical records interact and can be used to corroborate each other. By examining the archaeology of destruction, a new interpretation of slighting has been advanced, understanding it as an activity rich in social meaning with implications beyond the study of castles and the medieval period.