Photo of Corfe Castle in Dorset taken in August 2010.
The United Kingdom is filled with castles. The Castellarium Anglicanum, which is a list of castles in England and Wales, lists 1500 sites in England. Out of these there are 800 with visible remains and 300 substantial surviving structures. Wales is said to be the castle capital of the world due to having about 600 castles in a relatively small space. There have been more than 2000 castles in Scotland although some are now only known due to records as there is no sign of many of them now. Northern Ireland still has over 60 castles to visit.
The definition of a castle is a fortified structure from the Middle Ages. Some were built on earlier Roman forts. In England there are a few from before the Norman invasion in 1066. What is left ranges from ruins to castles that are totally in tact such as Windsor Castle and Norwich Castle. Some have just the keep (a fortified tower) such as Totnes Castle in Norfolk and others have a keep and bailey (the tower and courtyard) such as Lewes Castle in East Sussex.
Today many of the castles have been taken over by organizations such as English Heritage and National Trust. Others such as Colchester Castle, are run by the Local Authority. Peckforton Castle is a hotel. Dunham Castle forms part of a university. Leeds Castle has been restored, is occupied and is open to visitors. And of course Windsor Castle is a royal residence.
Castles were always built as defences against attack. Edinburgh Castle in Scotland is said to have the history of the most attacks of any castle. Moats were a common feature to further chances of keeping the enemy away. Castles fell out of favour after gunpowder and canons came into being.
There are a lot of castles in the North of England such as in Northumberland. But there are castles in nearly every county of the country. Some of the well known ones are Tintagel in Cornwall, Dover Castle in Kent, Carlisle Castle in Cumbria, Rye Castle inn East Sussex, Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire , Winchester Castle in Hampshire, Okephampton Castle in Devon, Farnham Castle in Surrey, Skipton Castle in Yorkshire and Corfe Castle in Dorset. In Scotland Stirling Castle is also well known. In Wales, Caernarfon and Conwy are popular visiting spots. Belfast Castle is one of the most well known castles in Northern Ireland.
Castles form an important part of the history of the United Kingdom. It is fortunate that so many have been preserved for future generations to visit.