Oldest Castles in England

England has played a huge role in world history, and its own internal history is long, rich, and detailed. Throughout its history, this country has seen many castles being built, and many of them have still stood the test of time.

In this article, we’re going to look at some of the oldest castles in England, and learn more about them. Let’s get right into it.

6 Oldest Castles in England

6. Windsor Castle

Year/Time Period: Late 11th century
Type of castle: Three bailey wards with a round keep
Open to the public: Yes, but with limited access
Location: Berkshire

Windsor CastlePhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

Windsor Castle is perhaps the best-known castle on our list! It was first built during the 11th century, and for several centuries has been associated with the Royal Family in England. An interesting fact about this castle is that it is the only castle in Europe to have been occupied the longest.

Since it was originally constructed by William the Conqueror, it’s no surprise that it was designed with strategy and power in mind. This castle had originally been designed to project and ensure that the Normans dominated the areas on the outskirts of London, as well as an area of the River Thames. Over the years, this castle has survived several wars, and has housed numerous generations of the Royal Family.

Did you know?

King Charles III is the current owner of Windsor Castle.


5. Lincoln Castle

Year/Time Period: Late 11th century
Type of castle: Medieval castle
Open to the public: Yes
Location: Lincoln, England

Lincoln CastlePhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

Lincoln Castle was built during the latter period of the 11th century, although no exact date is known. It is one of the most unusual castles in England in that it has two mottes, making it one of two castles in the entire country to have this feature. The reason that this castle, among a few other was constructed during its time, was because of William the Conqueror and his incessant need for power.

Although he defeated the English at the Battle of Hastings, William’s position as a ruler in England remained insecure. The general population opposed him as a ruler, and his position was shaky. In order to gain control and rule over the people at Danelaw, William instructed his people to construct a series of castles across the northern regions and Midlands in England, one of which was Lincoln Castle.

Did you know?

Lincoln Castle is used as both a court and prison today.


4. Warwick Castle

Year/Time Period: 1068
Type of castle: Medieval castle
Open to the public: Yes
Location: Warwick, Warwickshire, England

Warwick CastlePhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

Warwick Castle was also built during the Norman Conquests, and was originally built as a wooden castle. However, it was later rebuilt with stone two centuries later. The reason that William the Conqueror built this castle was because he wanted to gain and continue maintain control of the Midlands as his army and campaign continued to move north.

Over the years, the castle’s owners changed hands, and it was eventually turned into a country house at the beginning of the 17th century. As the years went by, more and more people began visiting the castle as tourists, particularly around the end of the 17th century. The number of tourists visiting the castle eventually became a problem, and in 1885, the castle was closed to visitors. However, it was reopened in 1900, and a tour guide was hired.

Did you know?

Warwick Castle was a part of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605! Those involved in the plot waited in the town of Warwickshire, and later robbed the castle of some of its cavalry horses to escape when they learned that their plan was a fail.


3. Norwich Castle

Year/Time Period: 1067 onwards
Type of castle: Motte-and-bailey castle
Open to the public: Yes
Location: Norwich, Norfolk

Norwich CastlePhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

Norwich Castle was built in the 11th century, much like many of the other castles on our list, making it one of the oldest castles in England. Its construction was ordered by William the Conqueror during the latter stages of the Norman Conquest. Although researchers remain unclear about the exact origins of this castle, some historians believe that this castle was most likely founded during William’s campaign to conquer East Anglia.

Several centuries after being used as a castle, the city of Norwich bought this castle and turned it into a museum. Since the castle had been used as a prison for a time, the structure of cells was removed to make room for balconies and new flooring instead. After several months of work, the museum was officially inaugurated in 1894 by the Duke and Duchess of York.

Did you know?

Norwich Castle was used as a gaol, or prison between the years of 1220 and 1887.


2. Chepstow Castle

Year/Time Period: 1067-1300
Type of castle: Stone fortification castle
Open to the public: Yes
Location: Chepstow, Monmouthshire, Wales

Chepstow CastlePhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Chepstow Castle has a hugely interesting history behind it! This castle also built during the same time period as the Norman Conquests in England, and its construction began under the instruction of a Norman lord, who was named William FitzOsbern. It is located in Chepstow near the River Wye, above the cliffs. Throughout its construction over the years, four baileys were added.

It’s interesting to note that although this castle was used during various conquests, such as the Conquest of Gwent, it was not particularly strong or built for defense. Unlike other castles constructed during this time, its layout was not concentric, and it did not have a strong keep.

Did you know?

The Chepstow Castle was first called Striguil. The word Striguil most likely originated from the Welsh language.


1. Berkhamsted Castle

Year/Time Period: 1066
Type of castle: Motte-and-bailey
Open to the public: Yes
Location: Berkhamsted

Berkhamsted CastlePhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Berkhamsted Castle is the oldest castle in England! Located in the market town of Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, this castle has been around for nearly two centuries and was built during an important period in world history, the Norma Conquests. The reason that this castle was built was to gain control of a route between the Midlands and London, during this particular conquest.

Once construction on the castle began, it was surrounded with a deer park and several protective earthworks. It had a deer park to make it a suitable place for hunting! As time went on, this castle eventually became an administrative center. It’s interesting to note that this castle was besieged at the beginning of the 13th century by Prince Louis, but was taken back by the English forces a year later.

Did you know?

The Berkhamsted Castle made history by becoming the first building in England that was given statutory protection by the Parliament. This was because the castle’s physical structure had declined significantly over the course of a few centuries, and was almost in ruins.


Conclusion

In this article, we took a closer look at some of the oldest castles in England. While researching this article, we were interested to learn that all of the castles that are considered to be England’s oldest were built during the same time period, and by the same person! However, after delving deeper into William the Conqueror and his need for power, we quickly realised why he felt the need to build so many castles! We hope that you learned something new from this article, and that it inspires you to read more about the history of England.

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