A watchtower is a type of fortification used in many parts of the world. It differs from a regular tower in that its primary use is military and from a turret in that it is a freestanding structure, its main purpose is to provide a high, safe place from which a sentinel or guard may observe the surrounding area. In some cases, non-military towers, such as religious towers, may be used as watchtowers; the Romans built numerous towers as part of a system of communications, one example being the towers along Hadrian's Wall in Britain. Romans built many lighthouses, such as the Tower of Hercules in northern Spain, which survives to this day as a working building, the famous lighthouse at Dover Castle, which survives to about half its original height as a ruin. In medieval Europe, many castles and manor houses, or similar fortified buildings, were equipped with watchtowers. In some of the manor houses of western France, the watchtower equipped with arrow or gun loopholes was one of the principal means of defense.

A feudal lord could keep watch over his domain from the top of his tower. In southern Saudi Arabia and Yemen, small stone and mud towers called "qasaba" were constructed as either watchtowers or keeps in the Asir mountains. Furthermore, in Najd, a watchtower, called "Margab", was used to watch for approaching enemies far in distance and shout calling warnings from atop. Scotland saw the construction of Peel towers that combined the function of watchtower with that of a keep or tower house that served as the residence for a local notable family. Mediterranean countries, Italy in particular, saw the construction of numerous coastal watchtowers since the early Middle Ages, connected to the menace of Saracen attacks from the various Muslim states existing at the time. Many were restored or built against the Barbary pirates; some notable examples of military Mediterranean watchtowers include the towers that the Knights of Malta had constructed on the coasts of Malta. These towers ranged in size from small watchtowers to large structures armed with numerous cannons.

They include the Wignacourt, de Redin, Lascaris towers, named for the Grand Master, such as Martin de Redin, that commissioned each series. In the Channel Islands, the Jersey Round Towers and the Guernsey loophole towers date from the late 18th Century, they were erected to give warning of attacks by the French. The Martello towers that the British built in the UK and elsewhere in the British Empire were defensive fortifications that were armed with cannon and that were within line of sight of each other. One of the last Martello towers to be built was Fort Denison in Sydney harbour; the most recent descendants of the Martello Towers are the flak towers that the various combatants erected in World War II as mounts for anti-aircraft artillery. In modern warfare the relevance of watchtowers has decreased due to the availability of alternative forms of military intelligence, such as reconnaissance by spy satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles; however watch towers have been used in counter-insurgency wars to maintain a military presence in conflict areas in case such as by the French Army in French Indochina, by the British Army and the RUC in Northern Ireland and the IDF in Gaza and West Bank.

An example of the nonmilitary watchtower in history is one of Jerusalem. Though the Hebrews used it to keep a watch for approaching armies, the religious authorities forbade the taking of weapons up into the tower as this would require bringing weapons through the temple. Rebuilt by King Herod, that Watchtower was renamed after Mark Antony, his friend who battled against Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus and lost. Diaolou Fire lookout tower Observation towers are similar constructions being outside of fortifications. A similar use have Control towers on airports or harbours. Media related to Watch towers at Wikimedia Commons

Hans Aasnæs

Hans Aasnæs, was a Norwegian army officer, Olympic sport shooter and World Champion. A lawyer by education, Aasnæs was a member of the Norwegian Army during the Second World War, fighting against Nazi Germany. After the war, he participated in numerous national and international shooting championships, including five Olympic Games, won several World Championship medals. Aasnæs was born in the municipality of Sande in Vestfold, the son of farmers Hans Alfred Aasnæs and Anna Kristine Freberg. On 2 May 1928, he married Kristiania-born Eleanor Chambers Poulsson, with whom he had one child before she died in 1933. In 1936 he married Astrid with whom he had two children. Through her, Hans Aasnæs was a brother-in-law of wartime resistance engineer Bror With, he was a cousin of fellow Olympic sport shooter Håkon Aasnæs. Hans Aasnæs died in Oslo in 1965. Aasnæs graduated from the upper section of the Norwegian Military Academy in 1923, joining the 1st Division with the rank of first lieutenant, he served with the 14th Infantry Regiment, before transferring to the 1st Infantry Regiment in 1924.

Having taken a course as an aviation scout at Kjeller Airport in 1925, he was transferred to the reserves in 1930. In civilian life, Aasnæs achieved his examen artium academic certification in 1920, graduated with a cand.jur. Law degree in 1925, which qualified him for work in the superior courts in 1927. After further studies in England and Denmark from 1926–27, he was employed as an office manager at the cooperative insurance agency "Felleskontoret for Brandforsikring". At the Norwegian national shooting championships, between 1934 and 1960, Aasnæs won a total of 29 gold medals in seven different shooting disciplines, he was awarded the King's Cup six different years, the first time in 1934. He competed at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, where he placed ninth in 25 metre rapid fire pistol event. At the 1937 World Championships he won a silver medal in the running deer double shot event, a bronze medal in the running deer single shot event. Aasnæs was a member of the Norwegian Officers' Pistol Club, the Oslo Sport Shooters and the Hunting Shooter Club.

Aasnæs was an army officer by profession. Following the German invasion of Norway on 9 April 1940, he fought in the Norwegian Campaign at Valdres. At the time of the campaign he held the rank of captain. Aasnæs arrived in Valdres on 25 April 1940, assumed command of Company 7, 2nd Battalion of the 10th Infantry Regiment; the day prior to Aasnæs' arrival, the company had been thrown back from their positions in heavy fighting with advancing German units, losing their commander. After leading the company in heavy fighting for several days, the battalion commander, Major Leonard Sæter, was wounded, Aasnæs was promoted to command the entire 2nd Battalion on 30 April; as the Norwegian forces' situation became more desperate, Aasnæs and fellow battalion commander, Captain Olav B. Skaathun, agreed to merge the remains of their units in the Vestre Slidre area, in an attempt to continue resistance against the German advance. However, the commander of the Norwegian forces in Valdres, Colonel Gudbrand Østbye, realized his forces were in an unwinnable position, ordered their capitulation on 1 May 1940.

On 3 May 1940, the officers were sent by buses to Oslo, while the non-commissioned officers and men were sent by train to a prisoner-of-war camp at Hvalsmoen. The Norwegian prisoners of war from the Valdres front were released from captivity in groups during May and June 1940, the last officers being released in mid-June. In 1941 Aasnæs made his way to the United Kingdom and joined the exiled Norwegian forces there assuming command of a company of the Norwegian Brigade in Scotland. In 1942 he was promoted to the rank of major. One of his former soldiers would describe Aasnæs as "... a strict but good company commander." From February to August 1944 he served as chief of staff of the Norwegian Brigade in Scotland. During his time in exile, Aasnæs was involved in several conflicts with other exiled Norwegians. In addition to criticising the Norwegian government in exile, he was one of a few officers to criticise the exiled army's first commander, General Carl Gustav Fleischer, whom Aasnæs described as "... tired and worn by all the difficulties in the first time in England..." and "... at the moment not able to build a Norwegian army in the United Kingdom...."

In the last months of the war, Aasnæs was angered by the Norwegian authorities decision to retain the Norwegian Brigade in Scotland, rather than deploy it to the front during the final battles against Germany. The Minister of Foreign Affairs during much of the period in exile, Trygve Lie described Aasnæs as "... a right-minded, somewhat conservative man...." Lie stated that Aasnæs was "honest", "... a true patriot who saw it as his obligation to speak out." Having left the army that year, Aasnæs became the World Champion in the individual 100 metre running deer double shot event in 1947. He was part of the Norwegian team that won a silver medal in the running deer double shot event, bronze medal in the running deer single shot event. At the 1949 World Championships, he won a gold medal with the Norwegian team in the running deer combined event. In 1952, he won two team gold medals at the World Championships, in the running deer single shot and double shot events. At the 1954 World Championships he won a bronze medal in Olympic trap.

He competed in five Olympic Games, with a 5th place in trap at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome as best result. In addition to his numerous shooting awards and medals, Aasnæs was awarded the Norwegian Haakon VII 70th Anniversary Medal, was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his wartime service

County Handicap Hurdle

The County Handicap Hurdle is a Grade 3 National Hunt hurdle race in Great Britain, open to horses aged five years or older. It is run on the New Course at Cheltenham over a distance of about 2 miles and 1 furlong, during its running there are eight hurdles to be jumped, it is a handicap race, it is scheduled to take place each year during the Cheltenham Festival in March. The County Hurdle was established in 1920, its inaugural winner was Trespasser, ridden by George Duller, its title between 1995 and 2016 was the Vincent O'Brien County Handicap Hurdle in honour of Vincent O'Brien, an Irish racehorse trainer who retired in 1994. During his career O'Brien recorded a total of twenty-three victories at the Cheltenham festival. For many years the County Hurdle was traditionally the last race to be run at the Festival. However, a new running order was announced ahead of the 2009 meeting, it is now the second race on the final day. Weights given in pounds. Horse racing in Great Britain List of British National Hunt races – Vincent O'Brien County Handicap Hurdle – Cheltenham. – Racenews Archive. Ladbrokes Pocket Companion 1990/91. Aesculus Press. 1990. P. 64. ISBN 1-871093-21-X