Top ten castles

Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle

© Alnwick Castle

    • Chances are you aren’t live no more than an hour’s drive from a castle, whether it be a ruin, a stately pile full of armour or a prehistoric hill fort. Virtually every town and village has a nearby castle, standing guard. Here are Show Me's favourites.

      Alnwick Castle

      Top of our list, and shown above, is Alnwick Castle in Northumberland. Why? Because it was Hogwarts in the first two Harry Potter films! Harry’s flying lesson was filmed here, and it was used again when Harry and Ron crashed Mr. Weasley’s car into the Whomping Willow.

      Some of the wizards have stayed on at the castle, and offer muggles a chance to learn how to ride a broomstick.

      Pevensey Castle

      As most of you will know, the Norman invasion of Britain began when William the Conqueror landed on our shores in 1066.

      The first thing William did, after drying out his chainmail, was to occupy the Roman fort at Pevensey in Sussex and convert its Roman remains into an imposing motte-and-bailey castle – the like of which were soon to spread right across the conquered lands of Britain. Motte-and-bailey castles have a wooden or stone keep sat on a very steep mound of earth (a motte) with an enclosed courtyard (a bailey) below. Both were surrounded by a ditch and a strong wooden fence.

      Find out more about Pevensey Castle’s history on their website.

      A family on a bridge at Pevensey CastlePevensey Castle© English Heritage
      Colchester Castle

      Colchester Castle was built more than 1,000 years ago on the Roman temple of Claudius. You can still see traces of the original temple today and you can explore the Roman vaults.

      With so many layers of history, this a fantastic place to get lost in the past. 

      Walmer Castle

      Walmer Castle in Kent is a well-preserved Tudor stronghold. It was built by Henry VIII to help protect his kingdom from the threat of invasion by France and Spain.

      A family on a bridge at Walmer CastleWalmer Castle© English Heritage
      You can run around the castle's Tudor gardens before exploring the castle’s many turrets and gatehouses. Don’t forget to check out their original pair of Wellington boots!

      Kenilworth Castle

      At Kenilworth, there is a massive but ruined castle that was once the biggest in all of England.

      Kenilworth Castle through the treesKenilworth Castle© English Heritage
      With its atmospheric passageways and battlements Kenilworth Castle is a former stronghold of Henry II that towers over the surrounding gardens and lakes. With just a little imagination, you can transport yourself back to the days of sieges and jousts with no need for a time machine. 

      Beeston Castle

      Beeston Castle is an unusual one - the architects who designed it were inspired by the Middle Eastern forts they saw on the Crusades.

      Beeston Castle Bridge and GateBeeston Castle Bridge and Gate© English Heritage
      All castles should have a great view, so the people inside can see any approaching invaders, but Beeston possibly has the best views of all: you can see from the Pennines all the way to the Welsh mountains!

      They also have some hidden treasure from the reign of Richard II – maybe you will be the one to uncover it.

      Beaumaris Castle

      Beaumaris Castle was one of the last castles built by Edward I. It is also one of the best examples of a concentric castle remaining today. A concentric castle is one that has two lots of walls, one inside the other.

      With its complex of defensive walls within walls, gate houses, defensive towers, drawbridges and murder holes, this impregnable fortress sure is impressive.


      Known worldwide as the seat of the legendary King Arthur, this is probably the most famous castle ever. Well, after Hogwarts.

      Castle ruins next to the seaTintagel Castle© English Heritage
      Joined to the mainland by a narrow stretch of land, there are many coves and caves to explore as you search for Arthur’s sword Excalibur. 

      If you like to act, the staff at Tintagel have written a script for a play about King Arthur that you can download.

      Dunluce Castle

      Dunluce Castle in Northern Ireland is one of the most dramatic castle locations in the British Isles. Perched on a rocky ledge, and surrounded on all sides by sheer rock faces, today it is still only reachable via a dizzying narrow bridge.

      Dunlace Castle© Osioni via wikimedia commons
      Richard de Burgh, Earl of Ulster, built it in the early 16th century but it often came under siege. In 1584 the infamous Sorley Boy MacDonnell captured it from the English when one of his men, who worked in the castle, hauled his comrades up the cliff in a basket.

      Urquhart Castle

      Urquhart Castle in Scotland sits on the banks of Loch Ness. If you don’t want to be a knight you can always try your hand at being a monster hunter as you search for the legendary creature in the Loch.

      Urquhart Castle© Sam Fentress via wikimedia commons
      These are our favourite castles, but there are lots of castles all over the UK.
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