Top 10 Castles in England

Discover the Top 10 Castles in England

English Castles are fortified buildings that were constructed during the medieval period by the English nobility.

Different lords all over England constructed castles of various structures, many of which are extant to this day although they have been modified over the centuries.

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Most of the castles in England were built by the Normans led by William the Conqueror the Duke of Normandy, a descendant of the Vikings who defeated King Harold Godwinson in the battle of Hastings in 1066, and was crowned king of England on Christmas Day of the same year!

Norman Conquest of England

Norman Conquest of England

Top 10 Castles in England

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1. Dover Castle

Dover Castle has historically been one of the most important castles in England. It is located in Dover, Kent, and was historically one of the chief gateways to England via the sea. Throughout the medieval period and later, anyone coming to England had to land near Dover Castle.


Given its defensive significance, the castle had many defensive characteristics which made it formidable to any foe, the castle has many underground tunnels which were fiercely guarded especially during the time of the Napoleonic Wars.

2. The Tower of London

The Tower of London is one of the most famous castles in England. The castle has historically been related directly to reigning English monarchs and their families. It was seen as a sign of the King’s might.


During Henry VIII’s’ reign, he kept Anne Boleyn in this castle during the final days of her life. In the reign of Richard III, this was the castle where the princes vanished.

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The Tower of London is located on the north bank of the Thames and has a large complex of buildings within its boundaries.


During the medieval period, the phrase ‘‘sent to the tower’’ was often used to refer to ‘imprisonment in the white tower of London’.

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The Tower of London has a History of Be-Headings

3. Bodiam Castle

Bodiam Castle was constructed in 1385 in East Sussex. It was meant to be an apt safeguard against any rebellious actions of the rural population and the threats of a French invasion. Bodiam Castle was built as a moated castle during the reign of Richard II.

King Richard II Portrait Medieval Kings

King Richard II

Although it has excellent architecture, the castle was not ideal for defensive purposes, given its walls which were not thick enough for an effective defense. Moreover, the castle was not large enough to house a sufficient military garrison.


Bodiam Castle

4. Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle is located in Berkshire and is considered one of the oldest and largest castles in England. The castle was built during the time of William The Conqueror.


The castle is still in use and Queen Elizabeth II uses it as one of her residences, using it both as her home and as her office.


5. Skipton Castle

Skipton Castle is located in North Yorkshire and was built in 1090 after William The Conqueror had helped the Norman nobility ascend to power in England. Originally, the castle was built as a wooden motte and bailey castle but later its structure was changed to stone.


Skipton Castle

The castle served as an important point of defense for the Royalists during the English Civil War. It was the only castle guarded by the Royalists in the North, although its control was relinquished to Oliver Cromwell in 1645.

The castle stands well preserved today and a portion of it is still used as a private residence.

6. Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle was built near the River Avon in Warwick, Warwickshire. Warwick Castle was constructed by William The Conqueror in 1068. Since then, it was used by the Earl of Warwick until Henry II took control of it in the 12th century.

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William The Conqueror

During the 15th century, Warwick Castle was used for imprisoning the English king Edward IV. The castle was reconstructed a number of times during the medieval period, so as to augment its fortifications.


As a result of these fortifications, Warwick Castle became one of the most secured strongholds in the medieval period. Today, the castle is well-preserved and is a tourist attraction.


7. Carlisle Castle

Carlisle Castle was built by William II as he took control of Carlisle in 1092. Carlisle existed as a town since the time of the Romans. Since the castle was located in what was historically the border region between England and Scotland, it remained one of the most frequently attacked castles.

William II - William Rufus

William II *William Rufus

Consequently, the structure of the castle was fortified a number of times over the centuries in order to make it strong enough to withstand attacks. The castle is a popular tourist attraction today, housing a museum and is an office to the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.


8. Lincoln Castle

Lincoln Castle was constructed by William the Conqueror in the 11th century in the town of Lincoln, which was originally founded by the Romans, the most notable use of the castle throughout the medieval period was its use as a prison for notable persons and as a court of law.


The Castle gives an excellent view of the surrounding region and it is well preserved. Today it houses one of the original copies of the Magna Carta and also has a museum that is open to tourists.

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King John Signs the Magna Carta

The castle also houses a chapel today which was constructed in the 19th century.

9. Arundel Castle

Arundel Castle is one of the most scenic English castles, located in West Sussex. It was constructed during the reign of Edward the Confessor, sometime between 1042 and 1066. Later, it was completed under the reign of William The Conqueror and later became under the control of the Earl of Arundel.


It remained in the use of several notable families, including occasionally the royal family, throughout the medieval ages. It underwent significant damage during the English Civil War but was later restored.

The castle is currently home to the Duke of Norfolk and his family.

10. Rochester Castle

Rochester Castle was constructed in 1127 at the site of Rochester, Kent right next to the Medway river.  The castle served as a major Norman fortification during the early medieval period. It rises to a height of 111 feet, giving an excellent view of the surrounding area.


The castle has been a sort of tourist attraction for centuries, with people coming here since the Victorian times for festivals. Today, it is a declared part of ‘English Heritage’ and is a popular tourist attraction.