Castles and fortifications in United Kingdom

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress which dominates the skyline of the city of Edinburgh from its position on the Castle Rock. Archaeologists have established human occupation of the rock since at least the Iron Age (2nd century AD), although the nature of the early settlement is unclear. There has been a royal castle on the rock since at least the reign of David I in the 12th century, and the site continued to be a r ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Cardiff Castle

Cardiff Castle is a medieval castle and Victorian Gothic revival mansion located in the city centre of Cardiff. The original motte and bailey castle was built in the late 11th century by Norman invaders on top of a 3rd-century Roman fort. The castle was commissioned either by William the Conqueror or by Robert Fitzhamon, and formed the heart of the medieval town of Cardiff and the Marcher Lord territory of Glamorgan. In t ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Cardiff, United Kingdom

Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle is one of the largest and most important castles, both historically and architecturally, in Scotland. The castle is a great symbol of Scottish Independence and a source of enduring national pride. Its strategic location, guarding what was, until the 1890s, the farthest downstream crossing of the River Forth, has made it an important fortification from the earliest times. Stirling Castle is a Scheduled Anci ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Stirling, United Kingdom

St Michael's Mount

St Michael"s Mount is a tidal island in Mount"s Bay, Cornwall, United Kingdom. The island is a civil parish and is linked to the town of Marazion by a causeway of granite setts, passable between mid-tide and low water. It is managed by the National Trust, and the castle and chapel have been the home of the St Aubyn family since approximately 1650. Historically, St Michael"s Mount was a Cornish counterpart ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Marazion, United Kingdom

Linlithgow Palace

The Linlithgow Palace was one of the principal residences of the monarchs of Scotland in the 15th and 16th centuries. Although maintained after Scotland"s monarchs left for England in 1603, the palace was little used, and was burned out in 1746. It is now a visitor attraction in the care of Historic Environment Scotland. A royal manor existed on the site in the 12th century. This was replaced by a fortification know ...
Founded: 1302 | Location: Linlithgow, United Kingdom

Caerphilly Castle

Caerphilly Castle is a medieval fortification constructed by Gilbert de Clare in the 13th century. Surrounded by extensive artificial lakes – considered by historian Allen Brown to be 'the most elaborate water defences in all Britain' – it occupies around 30 acres and is the largest castle in Wales and the second-largest castle in the United Kingdom after Windsor Castle. It is famous for having introduced co ...
Founded: 1268 | Location: Caerphilly, United Kingdom

Porth-y-Tŵr

Porth-y-Tŵr (Welsh for Tower Gate) is a gatehouse and bell tower overlooking St Davids Cathedral. It is the sole survivor of four medieval gates to the walled Cathedral Close. The 13th-century octagonal tower, adjoining the gateway, now contains the cathedral"s bells. What is nowadays the bell tower was used by the bishops of St Davids for their consistory court and a record office for the episcopal see. The south ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: St Davids, United Kingdom

Carisbrooke Castle

Carisbrooke Castle is a historic motte-and-bailey castle located in the village of Carisbrooke (near Newport), Isle of Wight, England. The may have been occupied in pre-Roman times. A ruined wall suggests that there was a building there in late Roman times. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle mentions that Wihtgar, cousin of King Cynric of Wessex, died in AD 544, and was buried there. The Jutes may have taken over the fort ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Newport, Isle of Wight, United Kingdom

Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle dominates a rocky promontory jutting into Loch Ness. That promontory has hosted some famous names in its long history. Around AD 580 St Columba was making the long journey from his monastery on the island of Iona to the court of Bridei, king of the Picts, at Inverness. As he was passing up Loch Ness, he was called to the residence of an elderly Pictish nobleman at Airdchartdan (Urquhart). Emchath was close ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Aberystwyth Castle

Aberystwyth Castle was built in response to the First Welsh War in the late 13th century, replacing an earlier Motte and bailey castle located a mile to the south. The current castle was rebuilt in its current location by Edward I of England in 1277 after the end of the first war against Llywelyn ap Gruffydd Llywelyn the Great"s grandson. The Welsh took the castle in 1282 at the start of the 1282 war and burned both ...
Founded: 1277 | Location: Aberystwyth, United Kingdom

Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle is one of the most recognised castles in Scotland. It is, without doubt, a Scottish icon and certainly one of the most popular visitor attractions in the Highlands. When you first set eyes on it, it is easy to understand why so many people flock to its stout doors year after year. Strategically located on its own little island, overlooking the Isle of Skye, at the point where three great sea-lochs meet ...
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Highland, United Kingdom

Yarmouth Castle

Yarmouth Castle is an artillery fort built by Henry VIII in 1547 to protect Yarmouth Harbour on the Isle of Wight from the threat of French attack. Just under 30 m across, the square castle was initially equipped with 15 artillery guns and a garrison of 20 men. It featured an Italianate 'arrow-head' bastion on its landward side; this was very different in style from the earlier circular bastions used in the Devi ...
Founded: 1547 | Location: Yarmouth, United Kingdom

Raglan Castle

Raglan Castle is a late medieval castle located just north of the village of Raglan. The modern castle dates from between the 15th and early 17th centuries, when the successive ruling families of the Herberts and the Somersets created a luxurious, fortified castle, complete with a large hexagonal keep, known as the Great Tower or the Yellow Tower of Gwent. Surrounded by parkland, water gardens and terraces, the castle was ...
Founded: 1432 | Location: Raglan, United Kingdom

St Andrews Castle

St Andrews Castle is a ruin located in the coastal Royal Burgh of St Andrews. The castle sits on a rocky promontory overlooking a small beach called Castle Sands. There has been a castle standing at the site since the times of Bishop Roger (1189-1202), son of the Earl of Leicester. It housed the burgh’s wealthy and powerful bishops while St Andrews served as the ecclesiastical centre of Scotland during the years before ...
Founded: 1400 | Location: St Andrews, United Kingdom

Inverness Castle

Inverness Castle sits on a cliff overlooking the River Ness. The red sandstone structure evident today was built in 1836 by architect William Burn. It is built on the site of an 11th-century (c. 1057) defensive structure. Today, it houses Inverness Sheriff Court. The castle is said to have been built by Máel Coluim III of Scotland, after he had razed to the ground the castle in which Macbeth of Scotland according ...
Founded: 1836 | Location: Inverness, United Kingdom

Chepstow Castle

Chepstow Castle is the oldest surviving post-Roman stone fortification in Britain. Located above cliffs on the River Wye, construction began in 1067 under the instruction of the Norman Lord William FitzOsbern. Originally known as Striguil, it was the southernmost of a chain of castles built in the Welsh Marches, and with its attached lordship took the name of the adjoining market town in about the 14th century. I ...
Founded: 1067 | Location: Chepstow, United Kingdom

Dunnottar Castle

Dunnottar Castle is a ruined medieval fortress located upon a rocky headland on the north-east coast of Scotland. The surviving buildings are largely of the 15th and 16th centuries, but the site is believed to have been fortified in the Early Middle Ages. Dunnottar has played a prominent role in the history of Scotland through to the 18th-century Jacobite risings because of its strategic location and defensive st ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Stonehaven, United Kingdom

Powis Castle

Powis Castle is a medieval castle, fortress and grand country house near Welshpool. The seat of the Herbert family, Earls of Powis, the castle is known for its formal gardens and for its interiors, the former having been described as one of the most important in Wales. The castle and garden are under the care of the National Trust. Powis Castle is a Grade I listed building. The present castle was built in the 13th centur ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Welshpool, United Kingdom

Fort Charlotte

Fort Charlotte in the centre of Lerwick, Shetland, is a five-sided artillery fort, with bastions on each corner.The first incarnation of the fort was built between 1652-1653 during the First Anglo-Dutch War. Little is known of the original structure and no trace of it has been found. The second structure was built on the same site by Robert Mylne under the orders of Charles II at the start of the Second Anglo-Dutch War i ...
Founded: 1652-1653 | Location: Lerwick, United Kingdom

Newport Castle

Newport Castle was built in the 14th century, probably by Hugh de Audley, 1st Earl of Gloucester or his son-in-law, Ralph, Earl of Stafford, with the purpose of managing the crossing of the River Usk. The castle was used as administrative offices for the collection of rent and dues from local tenants, and was also a residence and a garrison. In 1402 it was sacked by Owain Glyndŵr. It was in disrepair by 1522, and was tak ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Newport, United Kingdom

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Caerleon Roman Amphitheatre

Built around AD 90 to entertain the legionaries stationed at the fort of Caerleon (Isca), the impressive amphitheatre was the Roman equivalent of today’s multiplex cinema. Wooden benches provided seating for up to 6,000 spectators, who would gather to watch bloodthirsty displays featuring gladiatorial combat and exotic wild animals.

Long after the Romans left, the amphitheatre took on a new life in Arthurian legend. Geoffrey of Monmouth, the somewhat imaginative 12th-century scholar, wrote in his History of the Kings of Britain that Arthur was crowned in Caerleon and that the ruined amphitheatre was actually the remains of King Arthur’s Round Table.

Today it is the most complete Roman amphitheatre in Britain.