Castles and forts

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ALNWICK CASTLE

Alnwick Castle dates from the 11th century and has been in the hands of the Percy family, the Dukes of Northumberland, since 14th century.  The castle is one of the most visited in England, steeped in the Percy family history with gruesome discoveries to be made as well as magnificent state rooms.  It is often used for filming and has starred in Harry Potter and Downton Abbey, for example.  The castle also houses a number of special exhibitions, including the Regimental Museum of the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers. Adjacent to the castle is the Alnwick Garden, a formal garden built around a huge cascading fountain and featuring one of the most astonishing tree houses you will ever see.

Region/Nation
Location/Address
Alnwick
County
Northumberland
Post Code
NE66 1NQ
Main Historic Period
Medieval
Useful Website Address
Tip/Nearby
Bamburgh, Dunstanburgh
Primary Management
Independent – Historic Houses member
ANTONINE WALL

The Antonine Wall has World Heritage status alongside Hadrian's Wall to the south. It was built in 140 AD on the orders of Hadrian’s successor, Emperor Antoninus Pius. It ran 37 miles (60km) from Old Kilpatrick in the west to near Bo’ness in the east and formed the north-west frontier of the Roman Empire, but was abandoned after 20 years and the frontier shifted back south to Hadrian’s Wall. Unlike the latter, the Antonine Wall was constructed mostly out of layers of turf. These ramparts reached a height of almost 10 feet (3 m). In front, to the north, ran an enormous ditch, up to 16 feet (5 m) deep. Behind the wall ran a road to enable the movement of troops and supplies. There were 17 manned forts along the wall, plus additional ‘fortlets’. The Antonine Wall website calls it “the biggest, most awe-inspiring building project the people of Scotland had ever seen” – which is true but for the fact that Scotland did not exist at the time. There are several stretches of the wall that can be seen today – one of the best is at Rough Castle (address below). See the World Heritage website for details of all locations. The largest collection of Antonine Wall artefacts is held by the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow.

Region/Nation
Location/Address
Bonnyside Road
Bonnybridge
County
Stirlingshire
Post Code
FK4 2AA
Main Historic Period
Roman
Tip/Nearby
Runs through Scotland's Central Belt.
Primary Management
Historic Scotland
ARBEIA Roman fort and museum

Arbeia Roman Fort stood guard on the south bank of the Tyne, guarding the sea route to Hadrian's Wall. The fort is situated in what is now a residential area, with a primary school opposite. It was originally built in the 2nd century AD and, with variations and rebuilding (the fort was destroyed in the late 3rd/early 4th century, for example), was occupied until the Anglo-Saxon period. There is a good museum, reconstructed gateway and living quarters (which are a bit tatty) and the excavated outline of the fort.

Region/Nation
Location/Address
Baring Street
South Shields
County
Tyne and Wear
Post Code
NE33 2BB
Main Historic Period
Roman
Link to featured article
Useful Website Address
Tip/Nearby
Wallsend is just across the river
Primary Management
Local Authority
Arundel Castle

Arundel Castle, dating from 1068, has been the seat of the Duke of Norfolk, head of the powerful Howard family, for over 850 years. The Howards have been soldiers, sailors, poets - and plotters. The Duke of Norfolk is considered the premier duke of England and has the hereditary title of Earl Marshal of England, responsible for major state occasions - such as coronations. The castle was besieged twice in the Civil War (once by each side) and was greatly restored in Victorian times and looks like something from a Hollywood movie. It is famous for its artwork, furnishings, armoury and includes attractive gardens. Not to be missed is the medieval Fitzalan Chapel, the burial place of the Dukes of Norfolk.

Region/Nation
Location/Address
Arundel
County
West Sussex
Post Code
BN18 9AB
Main Historic Period
Medieval
Useful Website Address
Tip/Nearby
Chichester, Bosham
Primary Management
Independent – Historic Houses member
BAMBURGH CASTLE

Bamburgh Castle is one of the dramatic icons of Northumberland's coast.  There has been a fortress on the rocky crag poking out into the North Sea since before the Anglo-Saxons invaded. The Normans built a new castle, and its bloody history continued.  But the present building owes much to Victorian restoration and idealism. And thanks for that goes to wealthy arms manufacturer and dealer William Armstrong, whose family still live there.  Bamburgh is a popular visitor attraction, is 'bursting with history and has also featured in several film/TV productions.

Region/Nation
Location/Address
Bamburgh
County
Northumberland
Post Code
NE69 7DF
Main Historic Period
All
Useful Website Address
Tip/Nearby
Holy Island is just to the north
Primary Management
Independent – Historic Houses member
BARNARD CASTLE

Barnard Castle was founded by Bernard de Balliol in the 12th century and the ruins of this once mighty fortress dominate both the town named for it and the river Tees. Balliol College, Oxford, was named after Bernard's ancestor, John, and John's son (another John) was briefly King of Scotland. Afterwards, the castle came into the possession of the powerful Earls of Warwick - the Neville family - and subsequently, through marriage to Anne Neville, it then came into the hands of the Duke of Gloucester - Richard III. Later, it fell into disrepair and is now a spectacular ruin in an impressive setting.

Region/Nation
Location/Address
Scar Top
Barnard Castle
County
Co Durham
Post Code
DL12 8PR
Main Historic Period
Medieval
Tip/Nearby
The Bowes Museum, Egglestone Abbey
Primary Management
English Heritage
BEAUMARIS CASTLE

Beaumaris was the last and largest of the massive castles constructed by English King Edward I to keep the Welsh subjugated.  Construction began in 1295, but Beaumaris was never finished.  Even so, it is often regarded as the most technically perfect medieval castle in Britain.  And it is a World Heritage Site.

Region/Nation
Location/Address
Castle Street, Beaumaris
County
Isle of Anglesey
Post Code
LL58 8AP
Main Historic Period
Medieval
Useful Website Address
Tip/Nearby
Conwy Castle
Primary Management
Cadw
BERKHAMSTED CASTLE

Ruined remains of motte and bailey castle at Berkhamsted dating from 11th to 15th centuries. Berkhamsted was home to kings, besieged by the French and scene of the Saxon surrender to William the Conqueror in 1066. And it's a great place for a picnic.

Region/Nation
Location/Address
Berkhamsted
County
Hertfordshire
Post Code
HP4 1HH
Main Historic Period
Medieval
Link to featured article
Primary Management
English Heritage
BERRY POMEROY CASTLE

A brooding, ruined, medieval castle located atop a dramatic wooded cliff and with the remains of an unfinished Jacobean house inside its walls, which was intended to be the grand home of the Seymour family. Berry Pomeroy Castle has a reputation as one of the most haunted places in Britain - either the White or the Blue Lady will get you.

Region/Nation
Location/Address
Berry Pomeroy
Nr Totnes
County
Devon
Post Code
TQ9 6LJ
Main Historic Period
Medieval
Link to featured article
Tip/Nearby
Totnes, Dartmouth
Primary Management
English Heritage
BODIAM CASTLE

Bodiam Castle is a fairy-tale like ruined castle, originally built to help defend Southern England against French attack. One of the most photogenic castles in the country, from a distance it almost looks as though it could come alive.  But it is a shell - albeit with plenty of stairs to clamber up, crumbling battlements to fall off - and wonderful views from the top.

Region/Nation
Location/Address
Bodiam, near Robertsbridge
County
East Sussex
Post Code
TN32 5UA
Main Historic Period
Medieval
Link to featured article
Tip/Nearby
Bateman's, Scotney Castle, Battle
Primary Management
National Trust

This is a growing listings directory – over 950 entries have been listed as of September 2022. 

Entries have links for further information, such as opening times and entry fees.

If your favourite attraction is not listed yet, and you have a good quality digital photograph of it that you are able to freely send, please get in touch

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