Charles I Irish farthing
An Irish farthing made in the reign of Charles I (1625–49). This example is from the ‘Richmond’ issue, made from 1625 to 1644.
It is an example of coinage issued under royal licence in Ireland at a time of civil and religious turbulence. Discontent exploded into open rebellion in October 1641. The situation was made worse when civil war broke out in England in 1642.
A crown with crossed sceptres adorns the heads side of this farthing. The legend translates as ‘Charles II by the grace of God [King of] Great Britain’. In Latin, it reads: ‘CARO DG MAG BRI’.
A crowned harp takes centre place on the reverse. The legend here, which means ‘King of France and Ireland’, is written: ‘FRAN ET HIB REX’.
Religious and civil dissent made the royal coinage unpopular in Ireland. Irish Catholics instead issued their own coins. The Lords Justices at Dublin, meanwhile, introduced emergency currency.
Caerlaverock’s triangular shape is unique among British castles. A walk around the castle gives a sense of its strength, economy of form and pleasing geometry.
Three lengths of defensive curtain wall are linked at their three angles by high corner towers. On the north side is an impressive twin-towered gatehouse, where the Maxwells had their private rooms.
The Maxwells repaired and upgraded Caerlaverock over the years. The impressive machicolations (slotted defences) at the top of each tower date from the late 1300s or early 1400s – by which time the Wars of Independence with England had taken their toll.
Inside the castle walls is the remarkable Nithsdale Lodging, built in the 1630s by Robert Maxwell, 1st Earl of Nithsdale. Its attractive façade, with its ornate Renaissance stone carvings, is a sharp contrast to the severe castle walls.
Tale of two sieges
Caerlaverock was besieged and captured on numerous occasions, but two sieges in particular stand out.
The first, in July 1300, involved Edward I himself. The small garrison surrendered within two days of facing the full might of the English king’s army. A contemporary account of the siege is one of the most fascinating recorded for any castle in the British Isles.
The second siege, in 1640, was the castle’s last. It was brought about by Lord Maxwell’s loyalty to Charles I during his struggles with the Covenanters. The garrison held out for 13 weeks before surrendering.
Afterwards the castle was stripped of valuable fixtures and fittings and its great south curtain wall demolished so that Caerlaverock could never again be used as a place of defence.
Many rare animals and plants live in the castle grounds, which lies next to Caerlaverock Nature Reserve.
There are 15 habitats in the grounds, including:
- semi-natural ancient woodland
- swamp and ponds
- unimproved grassland
That so many nationally important habitats survive is testament to Caerlaverock’s protection as a significant historical site.
- Date Made
- dia 20mm (dia 13/16")
- Copper/Metal/BM Processed
- Time Period
- 17th century, Post-medieval
- Property Information
- Caerlaverock Castle
- Object Number
- Access Status