In the middle ages castles served as fortresses and residence for nobility. They were built so they can defend the people and nobility from the enemies. Some had drawbridges that were raised when the enemy was approaching, and archers were stationed on the towers. The walls were high so the enemy couldn’t climb the walls. Part of the purpose of a castle was to be impressive, so the lord can show the power he has and when seen from the distance they look splendid and massive.
In the UK, there are many medieval castles still standing, and here is a list of 15 castles you should definitely visit:
1 – Framlingham CastleIt was behind these walls where Mary Tudor was proclaimed the Queen of England. This 12th-century castle has a curtain wall with 13 square towers. The towers were so strong that they didn’t need a central keep. It changed its owners frequently and was used as a prison for priests under Elizabeth I. The interior wasn’t preserved, there is just one remaining hall that used to be a Poor House and now is a museum. You can walk along the top of the castle wall and enjoy amazing views across the Suffolk countryside. You can also attend many events like adventure quests and gothic falconry.
2 – Bodiam CastleThis 14th-century moated castle was built by a former knight of Edward III, Sir Edward Dalyngrigge to defend the area against French troops during the Hundred Years’ War. The picturesque castle sits in the middle of the moat and is square-shaped, with circular towers at each of the corners. The main entrance is a gatehouse on the north wall that is reached by a wooden bridge. The gate has a wooden portcullis, which was very rare back then. Inside it was divided by separate areas for the lord and his family, high-status guests, the garrisons, and servants. There are many seasonal events organized there and you visit it during the entire year.
3 – Ludlow CastleThis castle has a very interesting history. It was built by the most powerful man in the 14th-century England, Roger Mortimer who helped his mistress Queen Isabella in the overthrow of her husband King Edward II. The “Princes in the Tower” also grew up here and Mary I came to stay in the castle during the winter. Daniel Defoe called it “the very perfection of decay”. Some part of the Norman chapel survived, the inner bailey, four towers and part of the gatehouse. Visitors can see it during the entire year and maybe stumble upon some events like craft guilds and medieval fairs.
4 – Hedingham CastleThis 100 feet tall castle is the best preserved Norman keep in the country. Its original owner, the De Vere family, was a prominent family back in the 12th century. Aubrey De Vere fought with William the Conqueror and was awarded this estate. The keep is the only medieval element of the castle to survive and it has four floors including the Great Banqueting Hall. The area is now a family home, but the keep is opened to visitors for most of the year. Today, it is a home to many events like jousting, archery, falconry, re-enactment battles, fairs. It is also a very popular place for weddings.
5 – Warwick CastleThis castle was built by William the Conqueror in 1068. It was originally wooden but was rebuilt in stone in the 12th century. The castle is surrounded by a dry moat on the northern side and along the eastern side there is a the great hall, the library, bedrooms, and the chapel. Visitors can explore its towers and dungeons, see the magnificent Great Hall and state rooms. They can also witness bowman shows, medieval banquets, bird shows and see one of the world’s largest working trebuchet.
6 – Dover CastleDover is the oldest and largest castle in England and its role was to be a strategic defense for many battles, even in both World Wars. It was strengthened from an Anglo-Saxon fort in 1066 by William the Conqueror and often called the “Key to England”. Visitors can see its rooms and over three miles of underground labyrinth tunnels. Within its walls stands the Royal chapel dedicated to Thomas Becket and Saxon St Mary in Castro church.
7 – Stokesay CastleStokesay Castle is the home of the best-preserved fortified medieval manor house in England. It was constructed by the richest man in the 13th century, Laurence of Ludlow. In this castle, you can also see the Great Hall that is unchanged for 700 years. From the windows, you can enjoy amazing views of Shropshire countryside. You can see the North Tower, where the original medieval tiled floor still stands, the Gatehouse, and the South Tower. The hall roof and the staircase were cut from whole tree-trunks.
8 – Eilean DonanThis castle was built in the 13th century and it stands on a small island in the northern Highlands in Scotland. It was the perfect defensive position to protect the lands of Kintail against the Vikings who raided the coastline. The main keep was located on the island’s highest point. The castle was destroyed in a rebellion in the 18th century but is was rebuilt in the 1930s. Visitors can explore every part of the castle, see internal rooms, displays of weapons and fine art.
9 – Edinburgh CastleThis castle was a place for many battles and sieges and a home to many royal families. It is one of the most visited places in Scotland. The oldest surviving building in the castle is St. Margaret’s Chapel and it dates back to the 12th century. Visitors can also see the Great Hall from the 16th century, Royal Palace, and two museums. The crown, scepter and the sword in the Royal Palace are the oldest Crown jewels in the British Islands.
10 – Castle StalkerThis four-storey tower house was built in the 14th century on a small island on Loch Laich in western Scotland. In Gaelic, Stalcaire means hunter or falconer. This castle is privately owned and tourists can see it for just a few weeks in a year. They can explore both in and around the castle and enjoy the picturesque landscape surrounding the castle. This castle appeared in the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
11 – Dunvegan CastleDunvegan is the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland. It is has been a home to Clan MacLeod for over 800 years. The current castle structure dates back to 1266, but there was also a Norse fortress earlier. Sea gate was the only entrance for a couple of centuries, and it still stands there. The castle is home to some historic items such are Ruiaidh Mor’s drinking horn, Dunvegan Cup, The Fairy Flag, Flora MacDonald’s Jacobite relics. Besides the beautiful castle, visitors can enjoy fishing trips and gardens.
12 – Pembroke CastleThis castle was built in 1093 by Arnulf de Montgomery. In the late 12th century the massive cylindrical tower was built additionally. This castle is one of the most visited historic sites in Wales. It is an oval castle, mostly surrounded by a mill pond. The gatehouse served as a mighty defense in medieval times and was a powerful military stronghold. This castle was also a birthplace of the future King Henry VII of England.
13 – Caerphilly CastleThis largest stone castle in Wales was built by Gilbert ‘the Red’ de Clare, a redheaded nobleman of Norman descent. It is hidden within a dip in a plain and spreads over more than 30 acres. You can visit it throughout the entire year. When you climb one of the towers of the main gatehouse, you can see three more towers and the impressive Great Hall. The Caerphilly town surrounds the castle.
14 – St Michael’s MountThis is a home to a castle and medieval church dating back to the 12th century. St Aubyn family lives here since the 17th century. Many relics are preserved in the castle, like chiefly armor and antique furniture. This place has featured a number of films, like serving as Dracula’s castle is 1979 Dracula movie.
15 – Caernarfon Castle
King Edward I built the current stone structure of this castle in the 13th century. While it was under construction, town walls were built around it. It was also a symbol of the new English rule in Wales. The Eagle Tower was the biggest one where once stood statues of eagles. The walls and towers are almost intact. The castle used to host royal entertainment.
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