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Castles and forts

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The imposing red sandstone ruins of Bothwell Castle guard a strategic crossing point over the River Clyde. One feature is the castle's unusual round keep, or donjon. You can also explore the prison cells, great hall and chapel. Construction was started on the castle in the late 13th century, but was incomplete when captured by the English, recaptured, captured again... It then changed hands several more times and had a chequered history, being intentionally ruined at least twice so that it could no longer be used.

The castle sometimes has to be closed at short notice due to bad weather. Check with Historic Scotland before making a special trip.

Castle Avenue
G71 8BL
Glasgow attractions
Historic Scotland

Impressive, atmospheric, but austere, ruins of a 13th century fortress, built in a strategic position partly on the site of a Roman fort. It was in the frontline of border warfare between the English and Scots, restored by Lady Anne Clifford in the 17th century, but declined after a fire in 1666 and was abandoned in the 18th century.

NB Castle Brough is an attractive part of the village on the south side of the A66.

Church Brough
CA17 4EJ
Brougham Castle, Appleby, Penrith
English Heritage

Situated in a beautiful, but defensive, spot on the south bank of the river Eamont, next to the long-abandoned Roman fort of Brocavum.  Brougham Castle saw action in the wars between England and Scotland, and was captured by the Scots. But kings stayed here and it was one of the formidable Lady Anne Clifford's favourite castles - she died here in 1676. The ruins are fascinating - impressive and unusual gatehouse - plenty to explore and in spring the stonework is covered in aubrietia.  A tiny museum displays a couple of Roman grave markers - and at least one was re-used when building the castle.

Moor Lane
Nr Penrith
CA10 2AA
Two thousand years at Brougham Castle
Brougham Hall is very close and Acorn Bank is just up the road.
English Heritage

South Cadbury Castle is an Iron Age hill fort, overrun by the Romans in the 1st century and subsequently used by them, but then reoccupied and its defences restored in the sub-Roman period and in occasional use up to at least the 10th century. It is one of several places associated with the legendary King Arthur and suggested as a possible location for the mythical Camelot. The walls and defences are now wooded, but the size of them can be appreciated, and there is a wonderful view of Glastonbury Tor, on the mystical Isle of Avalon, from the top.

Take the pathway, Castle Lane, from the village; it is invariably muddy.

South Cadbury
BA22 7HA
Dark Ages
Glastonbury, Wells

A 17th century residence (possibly the original Maxwell House?!), built inside a forbidding triangular medieval fortress, surrounded by a romantic moat, besieged by the English, ruined by religion. Plus a colony of Natterjack toads AND the site of an earlier castle.

What more could you ask?

It is about 6 miles south of Dumfries off the B725.  Follow the A75 west from the M6/M74.

Dumfries and Galloway
Caerlaverock Castle
Sweetheart Abbey
Historic Scotland

Enormous medieval castle, with iconic polygonal towers, constructed from the late 13th century on the orders of Edward I as part of his strategy to subjugate the Welsh. It was built on the site of an earlier Norman castle and close to where a Roman fortress had once stood. The castle and town then became the English administrative HQ for North Wales and was besieged many times - and captured too.

Caernarfon Castle is part of the World Heritage Site "Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd".

Castle Ditch
LL55 2AY
Harlech, Conwy and Beaumaris castles are part of the same World Heritage Site.

There has been a fortress at Carisbrooke since Saxon times, at least, though the present castle dates from the 12th century. It was besieged once, by the French, but is probably best known as the place where Charles I was imprisoned, as well as for the donkeys that turn the treadmill to pull water from the castle's well. It was also home to Princess Beatrice, the youngest daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. The castle is largely ruined, but there is loads to see, inside and outside, including a fascinating museum, beautiful chapel, battlement walks - and, of course, the donkeys.

Castle Hill
Isle of Wight
PO30 1XY
Osborne House, Ryde, Cowes
English Heritage

Atmospheric ruin of the castle of the de Warrene's, the Earls of Surrey, in Norfolk.  The entire village was once protected by its defences.

Castle Acre
PE32 2XB
The Castle at Castle Acre
Castle Acre Priory
English Heritage

This was the ancestral stronghold of the Menzies clan from the 16th - 19th centuries. It was occupied by Jacobite rebels in 1715 and 1745 and, in 1746, Charles Edward Stuart - Bonnie Prince Charlie - the Young Pretender - stayed at Castle Menzies on his way to defeat at Culloden. 4 days later, the Duke of Cumberland, commander of the Government forces in hot pursuit of the rebels, stopped by too.

In 1957, the castle was purchased as a ruin for just £300 by the Menzies Clan Society who have proceeded to, very gradually, restore it. It is somewhere between a mansion and a fortress. It has a walled garden too, though the website suggests this may not be particularly well kept. It is also possible to visit the Old Kirk of Weem - the Menzies Mausoleum - in the nearby village of Weem.

Nr Aberfeldy
PH15 2JD
Menzies Castle website
Private - open to the public

The formidable looking Chepstow Castle dates from 1067 - building began less than a year after William the Conqueror became king. It was constructed in stone from the very start - not wood, as was the case with many Norman castles, in a strategic position overlooking an established crossing point over the River Wye. Building continued through its life right up to the 17th century. It was besieged twice during the English Civil War, eventually falling to Parliamentary troops. By the 18th century, Chepstow Castle was in a state of decay and becoming a tourist attraction.

NP16 5EY
Tintern Abbey