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  • (♪ High Germany, Jon Boden ♪)

  • At the end of the last ice age, the melting  glacial waters flooded into a yawning valley  

  • on the south coast of what is now CornwallThe result was the Carrick Roads, a deep  

  • meandering estuary which local claim is the  third largest natural harbour in the world.  

  • For centuries, the Carrick Roads have beengateway between England and the rest of the world.  

  • But in times of war that meant  they needed to be closely guarded.

  • Standing sentinel onpenninsular overlooking the water  

  • is a majestic circular fortress  ringed with stone ramparts.  

  • Pendennis Castle was Henry VIII's answer to  escalating tensions with France and Spain  

  • and from its imposing battlements you can see  for miles across the breathtaking Cornish coast.

  • Pendennis Castle was built by Henry VIII  between 1540 and 1545 and it's part of this  

  • huge undertaking to defend the English coast that  was known at the time as 'the device by the king.'  

  • Paired with St Mawes Castle over the waterit defended the Carrick Roads, this remarkable  

  • deep water estuary. Pendennis issophisticated structure designed to give  

  • a 360-degree field of fire. It's really all  about firepower; cannon. And the technology  

  • of war was something that Henry VIII was  fascinated with throughout his life. At the  

  • time that Pendennis was constructed, Cornwall  had a very clear sense of its own identity,  

  • very much as it does today, the Cornish language  being spoken and local gentry had a great deal of  

  • influence. The economy was based around fishing  and tin mining was thriving. It might have been  

  • a long way from London but this was a really  important place strategically and that's because  

  • the dangers associated with crossing the channel  at its shortest point, closest to France, meant  

  • that ships would often journey down the coast and  moor here in the Carrick Roads before setting out  

  • on longer journeys. Pendennis didn't just protect  the Carrick Roads; it protected the fleet.

  • Pendennis might look like it has stood unchanged  for centuries, a symbol of a bygone era, but in  

  • fact it's a dynamic place which has seen constant  use and change. It has been added to repeatedly  

  • and had played an important role in most of  England's major conflicts of the past 500 years.

  • Pendennis has been part of the military  infrastructure of Britian for centuries.  

  • Whilst built in the 1540s the site was in use  right up to 1956 and many of the buildings on the  

  • site actually come from these later periods. This  means it's been used during the civil wars of the  

  • 17th century, in fact it was besieged in 1646, the  American war, the Napoleonic wars as well as both  

  • World Wars. During the Penninsular War in  the early 19th century Pendennis was used as  

  • a supply base. From here ships would have left  with supplies for troops in Spain and Portugal  

  • and in fact troops themselves would also have left  from here. In the past, when you said goodbye to  

  • somebody before a long journey there was a real  possibility that you might never see them again  

  • and certainly this would be the  case if you were heading off to war.  

  • Pendennis could have been the last part of Britain  that some troops would ever see and people are  

  • people and even in the past the emotions felt  would be every bit as recognisable to us today.

  • Thousands of farewells have taken  place at Pendennis over the centuries  

  • and in keeping with this long history we've  selected a lament of two lovers separated by  

  • war. If Pendennis Castle is a symbol  of nationhood and military power,  

  • this song turns instead to the ordinary  people caught up in those conflicts.  

  • Just like the many soldiers who would have parted  ways with their loved ones at Pendennis without  

  • knowing what the future held, this song contains  a promise to return which is far from certain.  

  • The poignant lyrics of High Germany, sung for us  here by Jon Boden, really capture that sense of  

  • longing for a future reunion which is held  suspended by the fates just out of reach.

(♪ High Germany, Jon Boden ♪)

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High Germany | Songs of England #7 | Pendennis Castle, Cornwall

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    Summer posted on 2021/02/19
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