Castles and forts

Castles, forts, hillforts, fortifications and other similar attractions and places in Britain.  They may have been primarily built for defence – but may also be symbols of power.

Is Eilean Donan Castle a fake?

A moody Eilean Donan Castle, Scotland

Eilean Donan Castle, ubiquitous star of movies, calendars, biscuit tins and tea-towels, is pretty much a 20th-century creation.  Rescued from almost total ruin, it says something for its rebuild, and the success of Scottish tourism, that it is not only one of the most photographed and visited castles in Scotland, but also one of the

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Who haunts Scarborough Castle?

Scarborough Castle, North Bay

Scarborough Castle dominates the Victorian Yorkshire seaside resort from a massive precipitous headland bulging up from the North Sea.  The fortress has a fascinating three and a half thousand year, often bloody, story to tell, but one of its more dubious charms seems to be that the ghost of Piers Gaveston, Earl of Cornwall, and

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Formidable Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle, visit Edinburgh, Historic Scotland

You can’t imagine Edinburgh without Edinburgh Castle – it is one of the City’s landmarks, dominating the skyline, perched on a seemingly impregnable, daunting, volcanic rock at the end of The Royal Mile.  On a bright day, perhaps at festival time and viewed through the colours of Princes Street Gardens, it is ambiguous; fearsome yet

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From a house in the clouds to a fort

Thorpeness, meare, House in the Clouds, Suffolk

We are in the east of England, on the Suffolk coast.  The town of Aldeburgh was once a thriving Tudor port; that’s where we’ll find the fort. And Thorpeness, well – Thorpeness was purpose-built in the 20th century – and that’s where we’ll find our house in the clouds. Few people now will have heard

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Two thousand years at Brougham Castle

Brougham Castle, River Eamont, Cumbria

I’m gazing up through the empty keep, where long-dead feet once paced across floors that have themselves long-since vanished, rotted away.  Here’s Brougham Castle, scenically sitting on the south bank of the River Eamont a couple of miles outside Penrith, just off the A66.  Someone should write a song about that road… get your kicks,

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The folly of Fort Nelson

Fort Nelson, Mallet's Mortar

To the north of Portsmouth, on England’s south coast, is Portsdown Hill, a long chalk elevation that dominates the city and harbour 400 feet below.  And on the top of Portsdown Hill, the Victorians placed five large forts – from east to west: Fort Purbrook, Fort Widley, Fort Southwick, Fort Nelson and Fort Wallington.  Redoubts

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Helmsley Castle and a canter through British history

Helmsley and Helmsley Castle, North Yokshire

The guy behind me, approaching the rather unwelcoming gatehouse, grumbled, somewhat disparagingly, “Well, it’s just a ruin.” He was evidently a reluctant visitor to Helmsley Castle, poor soul.  He was half-right – Helmsley Castle is a ruin – and Britain does have more than a few wrecked castles.  Maybe our fellow-traveller was just out-ruined, couldn’t

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Orford Castle – and a merman

Orford Castle, Suffolk, British castles

There’s not much left of Orford Castle, except for its keep – but that’s absolutely spiffing.  At the cutting edge of medieval castle design in its day, the keep has managed to survive for 800 years, still dominates the surrounding Suffolk countryside and coast; and the views from the top are terrific. Orford Castle was

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The castle at Newark-on-Trent

Newark Castle, Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire

So far, England has only had one King John, and he was a bad ‘un.  However many times some historian suggests that this much-maligned monarch has been misrepresented, misunderstood, or was at least no worse than any other medieval king, another historian shouts out that John was as bad as they got. In fact, by

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Beautiful Bodiam Castle

Bodiam, East Sussex, romantic, photogenic, castle

Bodiam Castle was ostensibly built to help defend England from the French.  Now it just sits there, looking beautiful, a teeny bit brooding, and very medieval.  From a distance, you could be forgiven for thinking that it’s still a functioning fortress, that a verray parfit gentil knyght is going to come galloping across the drawbridge

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Middleham Castle, home of kingmaker and king

Middleham, fortress, Neville, Richard III

Though undeniably a ruin, and built about 800 years ago, Yorkshire’s Middleham Castle is a place where the past doesn’t seem that far away. I am sure this is some kind of subliminal sensation due to the personalities associated with Middleham, particularly Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick, known to history as Warwick the Kingmaker,

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Berry Pomeroy Castle

Berry Pomeroy Castle, Devon, haunted

Is Berry Pomeroy one of the most haunted castles in Britain? It seems that either the white or the blue woman-spirit will get you.  The White Lady is reputed to be the ghost of the beautiful Lady Margaret Pomeroy, imprisoned by her jealous (and less attractive) sister Eleanor for the crime of being in love

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