The Best British Castles to Visit
Have you ever wondered what castle warfare was really like?
What was it like to be on the inside as trebuchets pounded the walls? What happened to captured enemies? How did attackers bring down those mighty stone walls? All that and more is answered in Trevor Yorke’s new book, How to Attack a Castle.
On the list below, you’ll find all the places that feature in How to Attack a Castle. This list, reproduced exactly as it appears in the book, covers the places that really bring castle warfare to life...
CASTLES IN SOUTHERN ENGLAND
Arundel Castle, Arundel, West Sussex, BN18 9AB. 📞01903 882173
An early Norman castle with its original motte and keep surrounded by later buildings
Carisbrooke Castle, Castle Hill, Newport, Isle of Wight, PO30 1XY. 📞01983 522107
Impressive castle with an early stone keep which was besieged by the French and used to imprison Charles I after the English Civil War, prior to his execution.
Corfe Castle, The Square, Corfe Castle, Wareham, Dorset, BH20 5EZ 📞01929 481294
Dramatic ruins of this once mighty castle set in beautiful countryside. Earthworks of a siege castle can be seen on satellite mapping 400m south west of the castle.
Deal Castle, Marine Road, Deal, Kent, CT14 7BA 📞01304 372762
One of the earliest Tudor coastal forts which is largely in its original form.
Dover Castle, Castle Hill, Dover, Kent, CT16 1HU 📞01304 211 067
One of Britain’s major castles which has been an important military fortification for over 800 years. Not only is there the castle and its impressive keep, towers and gatehouse, but also a Roman lighthouse, Saxon church and underground tunnels.
Nunney Castle, Castle Street, Nunney, Frome, Somerset, BA11 4LW
An attractive 14th-century tower with a moat which was slighted after a siege during the English Civil War.
Pendennis Castle, Falmouth, Cornwall, TR11 4NQ 📞01326 316594
A Tudor artillery fortress set within later earthworks with arrow head bastions. St Mawes Castle, an excellently preserved Henrician fort, is only a mile away across the estuary.
Pevensey Castle, Castle Road, Pevensey, East Sussex, BN24 5LE 📞01323 762604
The site of the first castle erected by William the Conqueror when he landed in 1066. The remains include walls from the earlier Roman fort and a later 13th-century curtain walled castle.
Restormel Castle, Lostwithiel, Cornwall, PL22 0EE 📞01208 872687
One of the best examples of a shell keep set upon a Norman motte.
Rochester Castle, Rochester, Kent, ME1 1SW 📞01634 335882
Impressive Norman stone keep with one round tower which replaced the original after it was destroyed in the siege of 1215.
Tower of London, London, EC3N 4AB 📞020 3166 6000
This famous landmark with the Norman keep, after which it is named, is at the centre of a series of defences which show many aspects of military development over the centuries.
Windsor Castle, Windsor, Berks, SL4 1NJ 📞0303 123 7304
This glorious fortification high above the River Thames is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world.
CASTLES IN CENTRAL ENGLAND
Beeston Castle, Chapel Lane, Beeston, Cheshire, CW6 9TX 📞01829 260464
There are the remains of the 13th-century gatehouse and spectacular views, which make the walk up this hill on the Cheshire plain worthwhile.
Bolsover Castle, Castle Street, Bolsover, Derbyshire, S44 6PR 📞01246 822844
The original Norman castle was rebuilt as a Stuart mansion in the early 17th century by William Cavendish before he went into exile during the Civil War.
Bridgnorth Castle, Castle St, Bridgnorth, Shropshire, WV16 4AF
The remains of the keep at one end of this attractive hilltop town are leaning over after it was blown up following the English Civil War.
Castle Rising Castle, Castle Rising, Kings Lynn, Norfolk, PE31 6AH 📞01553 631330
Well preserved Norman keep set within impressive earthworks.
Clun Castle, Clun, Craven Arms, Shropshire, SY7 8JT
Excellent condition motte and bailey earthworks with remains of large stone keep to one side.
Framlingham Castle, Church Street, Framlingham, Suffolk, IP13 9BP 📞01728 724189
A rare early curtain walled castle which has been extensively restored so you can walk around a large part of its ramparts.
Goodrich Castle, Castle Lane, Goodrich, Ross on Wye, Herefordshire, HR9 6HY 📞01600 890538
Mighty castle remains with Roaring Meg, the only surviving English Civil War mortar.
Kenilworth Castle, Castle Green, Kenilworth, Warwickshire, CV8 1NG 📞01926 852078
A major medieval castle which influenced the design of many late 13th-century fortifications after its defences managed to keep out the might of the royal army during the siege in 1266. Also features a mighty keep, great hall, and Elizabethan garden and gatehouse.
Kirby Muxloe Castle, Oakcroft Ave, Kirby Muxloe, Leicestershire, LE9 2DH 📞01162 386886
An attractive 15th-century red brick fortified manor house surrounded by a water filled moat, built for Lord Hastings who was executed by Richard III before it was completed.
Lincoln Castle, Castle Square, Lincoln, LN1 3AA 📞01522 554559
Major castle opposite the cathedral which now has a walk around the complete circumference of its walls and a Victorian prison.
Ludlow Castle, Castle Square, Ludlow, Shropshire, SY8 1AY 📞01584 873355
Impressive castle with keep, tower and walls as well as a rare circular chapel.
Newark Castle, Castlegate, Newark, Nottinghamshire, NG24 1BG
The shell of the west front of the castle overlooks the River Trent. The Queens Sconce, a rare English Civil War earthwork fort, is three quarters of a mile to the south west of the castle.
Norwich Castle, Castle Hill, Norwich, NR1 3JU 📞01603 493625
Massive Norman keep built on top of the earlier motte which was later converted into a prison. Excellent exhibits and tours around the buildings.
Stokesay Castle, Stokesay, Craven Arms, Shropshire, SY7 9AH 📞01588 672544
Rustic fortified manor house with great hall, tower and distinctive timber framed gatehouse.
Warwick Castle, Warwick, CV34 6AH 📞0871 265 2000
One of the most exciting castles to visit not only with walks around its walls and towers but also has the world’s largest working trebuchet.
CASTLES IN NORTHERN ENGLAND
Bamburgh Castle, Bamburgh, Northumberland , NE69 7DF 📞01668 214515
Iconic castle set on an outcrop of rock above the Northumberland coast with a fascinating history including a number of notable sieges.
Brougham Castle, Moor Lane, Penrith, Cumbria, CA10 2AA 📞01768 862488
This formidable 13thcentury castle beside the River Eamont was built with Scottish invasions in mind.
Carlisle Castle, Castle Way, Carlisle, Cumbria, CA3 8UR 📞01228 591922
This vital border castle has been the subject of more sieges than any other in Britain. The impressive site includes sandstone walls, keep, towers and gatehouse as well as the earthworks of a Tudor artillery battery.
Clifford’s Tower, Tower Street, York, North Yorkshire, YO1 9SA 📞01904 646940
A 13th-century shell keep built on top of the original castle motte after the original timber keep had been burnt down during the mass suicide and massacre of the city’s Jewish community in 1190.
Conisbrough Castle, Castle Hill, Conisbrough, Doncaster, South Yorkshire, DN12 3BU 📞01709 863329
Rare cylindrical keep with prominent buttresses which dominates the bailey of this important castle.
Dunstanburgh Castle, Dunstanburgh Road, Craster, Alnwick, Northumberland, NE66 3TT 📞01665 576231
This huge castle is dominated by the great gatehouse and was originally surrounded by large lakes probably to impress visitors rather than make it impregnable. It is just down the coast from Bamburgh and is owned by the National Trust and managed by English Heritage.
Lancaster Castle, Castle Parade, Lancaster, LA1 1YJ 📞01524 237310
An important military position used by the Romans on which now stands the medieval castle with its imposing 14th-century gatehouse. Daily tours include the later prison which forms a large part of the site.
Newcastle Castle, The Black Gate, Castle Garth, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 1RQ 📞0191 230 6300
The gatehouse and keep survive from this castle conveniently positioned close to the city centre and its landmark buildings, bridges and famous Grey Street.
Norham Castle, Castle Street, Norham, Northumberland, TD15 2JY
An important border castle overlooking the River Tweed which was besieged numerous times. The last one, using cannon, resulted in the destruction of much of its walls and keep.
Richmond Castle, Tower Street, Richmond, Yorks, DL10 4QW 📞01748 822493
This attractive market town is dominated by the medieval keep which doubled up as the gatehouse for the castle.
Sandal Castle, Manygates Lane, Sandal, Wakefield, Yorks, WF2 7DS
Well preserved motte and bailey castle with views across the valley where the Battle of Wakefield took place in 1460.
Scarborough Castle, Castle Road, Scarborough, Yorks, YO11 1HY 📞01723 372451
The remains of the walls, barbican and keep, which was partially destroyed during the siege in the English Civil War, stand on top of this promontory along with the remains of a Roman signal station.
CASTLES IN SCOTLAND
Caerlaverock Castle, Glencaple, Dumfries, DG1 4RU 📞01387 770 244
Beautiful triangular shaped castle reflected in its water-filled moat. There is a fascinating gatehouse, a stunning 17th-century lodge with carved gables and endless passages and rooms to explore.
Drumcoltran Tower, Kirkgunzeon, Dumfries and Galloway, DG2 8LF
A well preserved Tower House.
Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, AB39 2TL 📞01569 762173
Dramatic castle set high above the cliffs with a range of buildings from various dates on this ancient fortified site.
Dunvegan Castle, Dunvegan, Isle of Skye, IV55 8WF 📞01470 521206
A beautifully positioned castle which has been the home of the Clan MacLeod for over 800 years, making it the oldest continuously inhabited castle in Scotland.
Edinburgh Castle, The Esplanade, Edinburgh, EH1 2NG 📞0131 225 9846
This iconic castle dominating the rocky outcrop high above the city is rightly very popular and highly rated and includes the Mon Megs cannon along its ramparts.
Motte of Urr, Haugh of Urr, Dumfries and Galloway, DG7 3JZ
The well preserved remains of a motte and bailey castle. Access from a parking space along B794 about 2 miles north of Dalbeattie, then cross the bridge over the Urr Water to reach the castle.
Stirling Castle, Castle Wynd, Stirling, FK8 1EJ 📞01786 450 000
An important castle and royal palace for the Scottish monarchy with its impressive buildings high above the site of battles and sieges.
CASTLES IN WALES
Beaumaris Castle, Beaumaris, Isle of Anglesey, LL58 8AP 📞01248 810361
Don’t be fooled by its rustic appearance reflected in the moat; this was a militarily advanced medieval castle with concentric walls and is of international importance, even though it was never fully completed to its original plans.
Caernarfon Castle, Caernarfon, LL55 2AY 📞01286 677617
Monumental walls and towers surround this historically important castle.
Caerphilly Castle, Caerphilly, CF83 1JD 📞029 2088 3143
One of the finest castles to visit in Britain not only because of its historic importance and impressive concentric design but also because it has replica siege engines and hoarding, and some fantastic dragons.
Castell y bere, north of Abergynolwyn, nr Tywyn, LL36 9TS
A native Welsh castle set in a beautiful, remote valley north east of Tywyn, which was built, besieged and abandoned all in the 13th century.
Coity Castle, West Plas Road, Bridgend, CF35 6AU
An attractive castle with the remains of the curtain wall, keep, gatehouse and moat dating from the late 12th to 14th century, which was strong enough to resist sieges during the Welsh rebellion in the early 15th century. #
Conwy Castle, Conwy, LL32 8AY 📞01492 592358
Another impressive castle built by Edward along a ridge above the River Conwy estuary. The twin wards surrounded by curtain walls and towers are complemented by the medieval walled town which was built alongside.
Dryslwyn Castle, B4297, Carmarthen, SA32 8JQ
The crumbling ruins set high on a hill overlooking the Tywi valley are all that remain of the castle which had three wards and a small town, all devastated by a siege in 1287.
Flint Castle, Flint, CH6 5PH
A unique stone castle beside the Dee estuary with curtain walls featuring an isolated round keep which was defendable in its own right should the rest of the castle be overrun.
Harlech Castle, Harlech, LL46 2YH 📞01766 780 552
One of Edward I’s most impressive castles with concentric walls, towers and powerful gatehouses positioned on a rocky outcrop high above Cardigan Bay.
Rhuddlan Castle, Rhuddlan, LL18 5AD 📞01745 590777
Another of Edward I’s new castles built with the latest 13th-century features and positioned with direct access to the River Clwyd which he had dredged so ships could bring supplies in.
Many of the finest medieval castles are maintained in England by English Heritage, in Wales by Cadw (the Welsh word meaning ‘to keep or protect’) and in Scotland by Historic Scotland. Some castles in their care are free to enter at any reasonable hour, others have a charge, although if you are planning to visit a number of sites then explorer passes or annual membership are excellent value.
The National Trust and National Trust for Scotland also have a number of outstanding castles in their care. Many of these have been later rebuilt as country residences but they still retain many of their defensive features.
For more information on access, opening times, prices and dates of special events and re-enactments check the following websites:
Ready to delve into the world of castle warfare? Check out Trevor Yorke's new book, How To Attack A Castle
- Alex Batho