Saturday, February 13, 2010

Visiting Medieval Britain

Britain has some of the best medieval castles in the world. Some are surprisingly still intact and lived in whilst others just have ruins left - a shadow of their former, glorious selves. If you live in or come to visit Britain and have an interest in medieval history, then it's your lucky day because there are hundreds of medieval sites open to the public.

Medieval castles in Wales include Coch Castle, Denbigh Castle and Caernarfon Castle.

Medieval castles in Scotland include Castle of Mey, Hermitage Castle, Caerlaverock Castle.

Medieval castles in England include Alnwick Castle, Naworth Castle,

Many British medieval castles are on or near to the coast. Take, for example, Dunstanburgh Castle and Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland. Both are on the coast yet one is in ruins whilst the other intact and still lived in. Both of them command some of the most spectacular locations you could ever imagine for a medieval castle. Tourist accommodation in this area is plentiful and if you want a vacation rental (self catering) cottage that's extra special, there are some luxury Northumbrian cottages on hand to make your stay even more enjoyable.

Moving further north you are soon in Scotland, a country famous for its history including medieval history with the likes of William Wallace. Now there's a medieval folk hero worth talking and writing about - but that's for another time and another post!

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dacre & Dunstanburgh - Contrasting Medieval Castles

Dacre Castle (left)

One of the smallest medieval castles we have ever seen! Built in 1313 near Greystoke in Cumbria. The Dacre family was one of the most powerful Norman families in Cumbria and built a number of castles including this one.

Still intact and inhabitable - still lived in today in fact. This castle came up for rental during 2009.


Dunstanburgh Castle

Only ruins left of this once magnificent medieval castle. Built on an ancient site, believed to have been occupied since prehistoric times! Construction took place in the early 1300's (around the time of Dacre Castle's construction). Located on the very top of a basalt crag on the Northumberland coast. The famous English painter W. M. Turner visited the castle and painted it on several occasions. Having been there and seen the breathtaking views, it's easy to imagine the impression this castle would make on a creative artist such as Turner.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Medieval Castles in 2009

During the course of this year we have visited and photographed a number of medieval castles in the Border region that lies between England and Scotland. It is an area that has seen many battles for power over the centuries and is therefore littered with fortresses many of which date back to medieval times and some such as Carlisle Castle having origins even further back - to Roman times.

Carlisle Castle (Cumbria England)
With over 900 years of history. Architecturally fascinating and reputed to be haunted!

Naworth Castle (Cumbria England)
A small, privately owned medieval castle dating back to the early 14th century.

Dacre Castle (Cumbria England)
An even smaller castle, again privately owned which was up for rental at the time we visited.

Dunstanburgh Castle (Northumberland, England)
Castle ruins in one of the most outstanding locations you could ever dream of! Located high on a promintery overlooking the sea. Breathtaking views once you reach it and look down on the surrounding countryside. Legends abound about this castle and it is reputed to be haunted.

Threave Castle (Scotland)
Ruins of a 13th century castle built in a unique location - on an island in the middle of the river Dee.

Hermitage Castle (Scotland)
Another unique location for a medieval castle - this was far from romantic though. A much more desolate location. Castle reputed to be haunted.

Photographs of each of the above will be published in subsequent blog posts.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Ghostly Dunstanburgh - Haunted Medieval Castle

Dunstanburgh Castle is not an easy castle to reach. Its location on the Northumberland coast of England is fairly remote, beautiful though somehow eerie and desolate.

It was whilst driving back from a visit to Bamburgh Castle that we had the opportunity to see this magnificent medieval ruin for ourselves. As soon as it came into view in the distance, it seemed to loom with a striking, almost ghostly silhouette against the skyline. The 'ghostly' part of that description is very apt: Dunstanburgh Castle is reputed to be haunted - and by more than one ghost!

Once the largest castle in Northumberland, Dunstanburgh Castle was built in the 14th century by Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, nephew to the then King Edward II. Having led a rebellion against his king, Thomas was executed for treason in 1322. His execution, however, was not quick and he died an agonising death because of the executioner's inexperience. It's because of this that his ghost is said to haunt the castle that he built - Dunstanburgh.

Another ghost reported to haunt the castle's grounds is that of Sir Guy, a knight who sheltered nearby during a storm. His legend tells of a wizard and Sir Guy's attempt to rescue a young woman from the castle to no avail only to become a ghost without a shadow, searching throughout the centuries for the lady he sought to rescue.

There's more on haunted Dunstanburgh Castle in our haunted English castles section for anyone interested in reading further.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Medieval Blog Launch

As one of 4 ‘medieval’ enthusiasts, I’m delighted to welcome you to the Blog of medieval-castle.com. Our website has been in existence for a number of years and we are committed to developing it to its full potential with ever more information, photographs and special features such as our haunted castles and fantasy castles sections.

Medieval history offers many different things worthy of study – from castle design to the many aspects of medieval life, warfare and weaponry through to the medieval crusades and then on to medieval literature, medieval music and medicine. The list is almost endless!

One thing that makes medieval study really exciting is that we are privileged to be able to see tangible evidence from that era – suits of armour, medieval art, medieval weapons and of course the castles themselves, though often only ruins.

Photo: Caerlaverock Castle - the kind of moated medieval castle that gets medieval enthusiasts excited!

I recently made a trip with my family to the Northumberland coast and saw several amazing medieval castles – Alnwick Castle, Bamburgh Castle, Dunstanburgh Castle and Warkworth Castle. The last 3 are reputed to be seriously haunted so it was just as well that we visited them during daylight! Possibly the most intruiging thing that emerged from the trip was that each castle was very different from the others - in design, architectural features, location and even atmosphere. So much so that I can’t cover them in this one article so I plan to write about each experience separately.

The first one is going to be Alnwick Castle, a truly breathtaking place to visit.

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