Dover Castle, the Keep or Great Tower
Dover Castle is above all a great medieval fortress, created by King Henry II and his Plantagenet successors. At its heart stands the mighty keep or Great Tower, 83 feet (25.3m) high and just under 100 feet (30m) square, with walls up to 21 feet (6.5m) thick. The grandest and among the last of the keeps raised by the kings of England during the 11th and 12th centuries, it was designed by Henry II’s architect ‘Maurice the Engineer’ and built between 1180 and 1185. A symbol of kingly power and authority guarding the gateway to the realm, it was also a palace designed for royal ceremony, and to house Henry’s travelling court. Within this magnificent showpiece, Henry could welcome and impress distinguished visitors to England– particularly noble pilgrims travelling to the new shrine in Canterbury Cathedral of St.Thomas Becket, slaughtered before the altar by Henry’s household knights only a dozen or so years before the Great Tower was begun.