One thing we Brits do better than anyone else is castles, there are a whole host of incredible castles, some fully intact, some in ruins but all with amazing stories hidden behind those walls.

Here are ten of Britain’s best castles for you to visit across the UK.

Windsor Castle

Berkshire, England  SL4 1NJ

Open for tours to the public until the passing of the late Queen Elizabeth II, Windsor Castle was the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. It was her favourite castle and when you follow the plus red and gold carpets around, it’s not hard to see why.

Windsor Castle was originally built in 11th century by William the Conqueror and has been used by the reigning monarch since the time of Henry I. During the English Civil War, it was used as a military headquarters by Parliamentary forces and was where Charles I was held prisoner prior to his execution. After Elizabeth II became queen, Windsor became her main weekend retreat, a fire broke out in 1992 which lasted for 15 hours and caused huge damage to the upper part of the castle.

Dunrobin Castle

Sutherland, Scotland KW10 6SF

Dunrobin Castle is exactly what will spring to mind when you start reading fairytales about long ago princesses and knights. Located in the Scottish Highlands, it is styled like a French chateau and dates back to the 1300s.

Like Windsor, this castle is also open for tours while remaining a family home. It has been lived in by a long line of earls and dukes since its construction and forms part of the Clan Sutherland family seat. During its history it has also acted as a boarding school and was stormed by Jacobites in 1745 because the Sutherlands were supporters of the British government. Visitors will see that some of the original buildings are still visible in the main courtyard and you can also enjoy falconry displays by the resident falconer.

Alnwick Castle

Northumberland, England NE66 1NG

You might recognise this one as it was one of the locations used in the Harry Potter films as Hogwarts. Since being built by the Normans, Alnwick Castle has had many uses, including being a film set, a family home and a safe house for evacuees during the war.

The castle is a Grade I listed building and is home to the Percy family, the Dukes of Northumberland. The castle receives thousands of visitors every year and is open to the public through the summer, in fact, it is the 10th most visited stately home in England, particularly after being used in Harry Potter.

Hever Castle

Kent, England TN8 7NG

The childhood home of Anne Boleyn, Hever Castle features a moat and some beautiful gardens, courtesy of the American millionaire, Waldorf Astor, who bought the castle in 1903 and restored it into a Tudor style with a beautiful Italian Garden including a water maze.

It wasn’t just Henry VIII’s second wife who called the castle home, it was also given to Anne of Cleves following the annulment of their marriage. Since the 1550s, it has passed through various owners and is now a tourist attraction complete with accommodation and eateries.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh, Scotland EH1 2NG

Probably one of the most recognisable castles in the world, Edinburgh Castle sits on top a dormant volcano holding a prominent position over Scotland’s capital. The site has been occupied by humans since around the Iron Age, with a royal castle sitting on the rock since the 12th Century where it was used as a residence by David I through to 1633. From the 17th century it was used as military barracks, which is obvious from displays and exhibitions that can be seen by visitors.

Over the years it has been a royal residence and a prison and is now the home of the National War Museum of Scotland as well as the Scottish crown jewels.

Cardiff Castle,

Cardiff, Wales CF10 3RB

Cardiff Castle, or as it is known in Welsh, Castell Caerdydd, started out as Roman fort before the Normans built a more familiar looking motte and bailey castle. From then onwards, it was rebuilt in stone and was used repeatedly in the fights between the English and the Welsh, particularly during the revolt of Owain Glyndwr.

Like the other castles featured on this list, Cardiff Castle is a popular tourist attraction and is often used as a performance venue, with people like Tom Jones appearing there to perform to crowds of up to 10,000 people.

Tintagel Castle

Cornwall, England PL34 0HE

Said to be the birthplace of King Arthur, some form of Tintagel Castle has existed on the site since the early medieval period where it was thought to be the summer residence of the king of Dumnonia. It has long been associated with King Arthur and has been a tourist destination since the Mid-19th century. It forms part of the Duchy of Cornwall and as such is owned by the crown. It is managed by English Heritage, who have it listed as one of their top destinations.

Warwick Castle

Warwick, England CV34 6AU

Built by William the Conqueror in 1068, Warwick Castle is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the UK. The original castle was rebuilt in stone during the 12th century and was used as a stronghold until the 17th century when it was converted into a country house. From here on it was the family home of the Grenvilles, the Earl of Warwick’s family until the 1970s when it was purchased by Merlin Entertainments when it became a top attraction.

The castle is protected as a scheduled monument and is Grade I listed, providing a wonderfully historic location for visitors taking part in a host of themed activities.

Leeds Castle

Kent, England ME17 1PL

Despite the name, Leeds Castle is located in Kent and is believed to have existed since the year 857. It was used as a residence for Edward I who was said to favour it above his other castles. It would later be used as a home for Catherine of Aragon during her marriage to Henry VIII, a painting from this time still hangs inside. The name actually comes from its original owner, a Saxon chief who was known as Leed and built the original castle in the middle of the River Len.

During the English Civil War, the castle was owned by the Culpeper family where it escaped damage because they sided with the Parliamentarians. Later it would be passed to other families before being used for important political meetings, including the Northern Ireland peace Talks. Today, it is primarily known for having the world’s only museum of dog collars and for having a golf course which makes it popular with visitors.

Carrickfergus Castle

Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland BT38 7BG

As Northern Ireland’s most famous castle, Carrickfergus has to be included on this list. The Castle was thought to have been built by John de Courcy in the 1100s before being snatched by other Normans less than 100 years later.

Like many of the castles on this list, it has been subject to a huge amount of events over the years, including a week long siege in 1689 and being looted by the French and English. For a time, it was used to hold prisoners of war, it was also used during a variety of wars including the American War of Independence and WWI and II.

Find more fascinating castles and historic buildings here.




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