Ironclad and the Siege of Rochester

This is the story of one of the longest sieges to take place in British history, the 1215 defence of Rochester Castle

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Ironclad is the latest historical film to hit our cinema screens. It is released on 4 March 2011 in the UK. The film hinges on the story of the 1215 siege of Rochester Castle, when a group of rebels held out for seven weeks against the besieging force of King John, who had come to blows with his barons over his arbitrary rule and his onerous tax demands. The clash was brought to a head by John’s failure to abide by the demands made of him in Magna Carta, which he sealed at Runnymede in June of 1215.

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Ironclad starts with Magna Carta, but the heart of the action is a blow-by-bloody-blow account of the siege of the castle. It wasn’t filmed at Rochester Castle itself but rather at a set built in Wales, though the producers attempted to create a faithful reproduction of the original. For those of you who like to spot departures from historical fact in films like this, there will certainly be a few talking points, but we’ll leave them for you to spot.

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In light of the film’s release, BBC History Magazine visited Rochester Castle to see what evidence remains of the siege today.

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You can read more about Rochester Castle, King John and the French Invasion of England, as well as listen to our exclusive Daytripper audio guide to the city of Rochester, in our Ironclad Special.