Thorpe’s tower doorway

Image of the feature "Doorways: Thorpe's tower doorway" at Berkeley Castle.

by Ron Baxter.

Thorpe’s tower was added to the NW of the Great Tower in the 14thc, obliterating the bastion that originally stood in this position.  Its inner face is visible from the Keep Garden, and in this face is a tall, narrow doorway with a round-headed arch made of 11 reused chevron voussoirs, five to the left of a central, larger uncarved keystone and six to the right (plates 14, 15).  The lateral face chevron is hyphenated towards the extrados only, carved centripetally with a half-roll on the face, with a step inside it and a double-step outside, defining the edge of a raised triangle in each outer spandrel.  On three of the chevron units in the right section of the arch there are clear signs of similar chevron on the soffit, which would have formed a point-to-point design, but all the voussoirs have been shaved on their soffit faces, and in most cases all trace of the design is lost (plate 16).

The chevron hyphens vary in length, especially in the right-hand quadrant indicating that the edges of the voussoirs have been trimmed as well as their soffits, and that the original arch that the voussoirs formed was rather wider than the present one.  It must therefore have been a doorway rather than a window, and the presence of point-to-point chevron on the jambs of the Great Tower doorway raises the possibility that this arch was made of stones from its original inner order.  Detailed measurements could not confirm this suggestion (as the voussoirs have been trimmed) although they might well refute it.