British castles - Eilean Donan castle,near the village of Dornie in Scotland.

In the distant past, in an era when Britain was wracked with bloody conflicts, fortifications were constructed to protect cities, towns and rural village. Many of these primitive timber structures were ultimately replaced with imposing castles built from stone and these, when surrounded by a massive ditch, a moat or a palisade, became almost impregnable fortresses.

More than 1,500 castles were constructed in England, with the first erected prior to the Norman conquest in 1066. Many were destroyed during violent conflicts. Others, no longer having a significant role to play when peace ruled the land, succumbed to the combined impacts of neglect, the weather and the passing of time. Today more than 800 mediaeval castles are scattered across the English landscape, and although some have been reduced to  little more than a pile of rubble, many others, although in ruins, are still impressive structures, and some have remained inhabited throughout the centuries.

Scotland had its share of elaborate fortifications too, with more than 1,500 castles built in the wild and rugged northern regions of Britain. Many of these once grand Scottish buildings have crumbled to dust, but the majestic ruins of the most tenacious castles can still be discovered, while many that have remained intact have been given a new lease of life as stately homes or luxurious holiday accommodation.

Wales, despite its small size, once had more than 600 castles, many of which were constructed by the English who were determined to maintain their iron grip on this corner of Britain. Sporadic conflicts between the armies of the Welsh princes who fought valiantly for their independence and the English who claimed Wales as their domain continued until the 15th century, and though many castles were completely destroyed during this time and others were reduced to ruins, some of the most stunning examples of mediaeval architecture survived.

The photos shown here offer a glimpse of the castles and other historic ruins in Britain, and by clicking on the buttons below you can discover the grandeur of the ancient buildings within a specific country.


Welsh castles - Caernarfon / Carnarvon castle in Wales.

Scottish castles - Rothesay castle, on the Scottish island of Bute, is still surrounded by a moat.

Ruins of Fountain's Abbey near Ripon in North Yorkshire, England.

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