carved by prisoner dated 1780
It was during the Seven Years War that the castle vaults were given
their best remembered use.
The crew of a French privateer was brought to the castle in April 1757,
and many other captured Frenchmen (mainly sailors) followed, so that by
the end of the war there were over 500 incarcerated in prisons beneath
the Great Hall.
The vaults were used again during the American War of Independence, where
several nationalities made up the prison population.
The wars with Napoleonic France saw the climax of the Castle's function
as a prison of war. Sailors and later soldiers from Wellington's victories
in Spain came to stay in the vaults during this conflict.
The varied origins of these men included Holland, Germany, America, Spain,
Italy and of course France.
In the overcrowded and extremely squalid conditions, it was not unusual
for squabbles to develop into feuds between the various nationalities.
Between these spells of conflict, the inmates could be quite an industrious
lot, making trinkets and ornaments out of bone and wood to sell to visitors.
Enterprising prisoners used their plentiful spare time, to forge banknotes
using dies (printing blocks) also formed from these materials.