Fortress: Did you know?

Fortress: Did you know?

A metal crossbowman

Discover amazing facts and fascinating stories about the Peasants' Revolt, siege engines and guarding the Tower!

Did you know...?

1. That a bolt from a springald shot by the French was said to have run through four or five Flemings (who happened to be standing in an orderly line) at Mons-en-Pevele in 1304 

2. That the Tower was breached for the first – and only – time during the Peasants' Revolt in 1381.

3. Between 1238-41, Henry III spent £5000 strengthening the Tower – over £2.5m in today’s money!

4. That the famous Ceremony of the Keys began in the 14th century. In 1337, Edward III told off the garrison and ordered them to keep the gates of the castle locked from dusk until dawn. In 1340 he arrived unexpectedly back from France in the middle of the night to find the Tower unguarded. He imprisoned the Constable and insisted that the Tower should always be secured for the night.

5. That our springald is based on five that were made to defend the Tower in 1313. They would originally have been mounted on top of towers.

6. In 1381, the peasants stole 20 springald bolts from the Tower but didn’t steal any springalds to fire them with!

7. That the peasants made such a noise outside the Tower the night before the attack that it was described as like ‘..the wailings of the inhabitants of hell…Words could not be heard among their horrible shrieks but rather their throats sounded with the bleating of sheep, or, to be more accurate, with the devilish voices of peacocks’.

8. That a standard issue heavy crossbow could shoot 240 yards (metres).

9. Today there are 35 Yeoman Warders, the same number the men who guarded it 600 years ago.

10. The ceremonial public duty of the soldiers stationed at the Tower is to guard the Crown Jewels and the Queen’s House on behalf of the monarch.  They can come from any branch of the armed forces of Britain and the Commonwealth.

11. Our perrier (siege catapult) can shoot 45 metres. 

12. When Gilbert de Clare’s 1267 siege of the Tower failed, he was forced to pay £13,000 to the king and hand over his daughter as hostage.  That’s £7.5m in today’s money.


Pace the battlements and explore the Tower’s history as a formidable royal fortress. 
Find out more about Fortress

Admission to Fortress is included in your Tower of London entrance ticket and is free for members. 
To book advanced tickets to the Tower of London  book online.


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