There is something about castles that captivates the imagination. From our first sight of them in fairy tales as children, they represent fantasy and adventure. We find them in stories and movies as the backdrop to great romances, battles and mysteries.
Castles are one of the great physical symbols of the British Isles, their history, scale and dominance demanding our attention and awe. There are hundreds of castles in the British Isles, in various states of repair, from the isolated romantic ruins off the beaten track to those that are well restored and commercially presented to visitors. Their architectural styles also vary considerably, from the domestic style castle built to prioritize accommodation and entertainment to the imposing military castles with siege walls and cannon ports, and the Tower House castles so characteristic of Scotland.
To properly appreciate British castles, we must first understand the historic context that determined their location and design. Before castles were built, the Anglo-Saxon occupants of the land originally lived in fortified townships. It wasn’t until the Norman invasion of 1066 that castles were built in England and Ireland.