England has many historic landmarks that help tell the rich history of the country. Medieval castles are found up and down the country, acting as relics of the past and transporting visitors back to life in the middle ages.
Whether you’re interested in history or are looking for a fun family day out, medieval castles in the UK have something for everyone. Spend the day wandering ancient ruins, viewing exhibitions and artefacts, or watch as history is brought to life through special events and live performances.
Here’s our run-down of some of the must-visit medieval castles in England:

Alnwick Castle

As the second largest inhabited castle in the UK, Alnwick Castle is one of the best-loved English medieval castles. It has been inhabited by the Percy family for over 700 years, standing proud as an iconic Northumberland landmark.
The castle retains many of its original features and maintains exhibitions of original artefacts that will transport visitors to a time gone by. Regular events help bring the medieval period to life, with everything from jousts to jester shows to showcase the castle’s history.
You may recognise some parts of the castle from the silver screen. Alnwick Castle was used as a filming location for Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, as well as TV show Downton Abbey.

Warwick Castle

Image by Kdsphotos from Pixabay.
Now owned by Merlin Entertainments, Warwick Castle has transformed from a medieval castle to a popular tourist attraction. While a number of new attractions have been added—from a walkthrough dungeon experience to the Horrible Histories maze — the castle has undergone a £6,000,000 restoration, which means many of the castle’s original features are still in-tact.
Under attack in 1264, besieged in 1642 and torn apart by a fire in 1871, the castle has many tales to tell. Explore this magnificent castle and grounds, and marvel at the grand interiors and original artefacts.

Dover Castle

Image by Alfred Dielmann from Pixabay.
Standing tall over the white cliffs of Dover and looking out over the shortest stretch of sea between England and Europe, Dover Castle has an imposing presence. From humble beginnings as a timber-stockaded castle in 1066, the castle was remodelled in the 1880s by Henry II, to not only strengthen the castle against attack but to add rooms suitable for entertaining the highest visitors.
These defensive improvements were put to the test during 10 months of attack from Prince Louis of France and his force. Additional defences were added in the 1250s, including new gatehouses and spur extension, creating the castle’s familiar form that we see today.
A visit to the castle today allows visitors to explore the magnificent castle, including the medieval tunnels and great tower.

Lancaster Castle

Image by Michael Beckwith from Pixabay.
With an elevated central location over the town of Lancaster, the history of Lancaster Castle stretches back over 1,000 years and has witnessed everything from religious persecution to witch trials and 200 executions!
A place of punishment until 2011, when the castle was still in use as a prison, it now welcomes visitors who want to learn more about its history and that of its prisoners. Highlights of the castle include The Well Tower complete with underground dungeons where the Lancashire Witches were allegedly imprisoned, Hadrian’s Tower and the Medieval Cells.

Oxford Castle & Prison

oxford-castle” by Tejvan Pettinger is licensed under CC by 2.0.
Another medieval castle in England with a murky past is Oxford Castle and Prison. The castle was built upon Saxon defences in 1071 when Oxford was identified as a key strategic location following the Norman invasion.
The castle has been embroiled in its share of battle, namely the Anarchy of the 1140s and the English Civil War of 1642. Following the Civil War, the castle was primarily used as a prison and its building adapted to improve conditions for prisoners.
Today, visitors can enjoy guided tours of Oxford Castle and Prison. Climb St. George’s Tower and look out over the town, visit the close confines of the Prison D-Wing or explore the 900-year-old crypt located deep underground.

Raby Castle

Raby Castle and Gardens” by Glen Bowman is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.
Located in County Durham, Raby Castle is a fine example of a well-preserved medieval castle in England. In fact, Bulmer’s Tower remains intact, despite dating back to the 12th century. During its history, the castle has been a backdrop for plotting the Rising of the North, and acted as a parliamentary stronghold throughout the Civil War.
Visitors can discover the castle’s grand interiors, as much of the castle has been meticulously restored. The kitchen, for example, still retains its medieval form, while other rooms show what life was like over the centuries.

Ludlow Castle

Ludlow Castle” by Ben Salter is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Starting life as a Norman fortress, Ludlow Castle was extended over the years into the dramatic ruined English medieval castle we see today. It was originally built to protect the border between England and Wales. In 1461, it became Crown property and housed royalty for some 350 years.
Falling into disrepair when it was abandoned in 1689, ongoing conservation efforts began in 1811 to prevent the castle’s further decline. Today, visitors are welcome to explore the castle and its grounds.

Hedingham Castle

2nd Floor” by David Bolton is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Hedingham Castle is a Norman medieval castle located in Essex. While originally much larger in size, the castle’s keep is the only major medieval structure to have survived. It features five floors, including a grand banqueting hall and the largest Norman arch in England, which spans two storeys.
The castle is open to visitors during specific months of the year. More information about visiting days and times can be found on the castle’s website.

Berkeley Castle

Berkeley Castle” by Kathryn is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.
Berkeley Castle is an English medieval castle located in Gloucestershire. The castle is perhaps most famously known as the place where King Edward II was believed to be murdered, although the events surrounding his death are much debated.
Visitors to Berkeley Castle can explore the impressive castle, including the King’s Gallery where King Edward II was imprisoned and died, and the medieval larder and kitchen, which still remains as it originally was.

Prudhoe Castle

"Prudhoe Castle” by Draco2008 is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
While some medieval castles in England and the UK may be better known, Prudhoe Castle played an important role during Britain’s turbulent history. In fact, Prudhoe Castle was the only castle in Northumberland to hold off the Scots.
Surviving two sieges, the castle is open to the public, where visitors can explore the keep, marvel at the great hall or explore the castle grounds as you walk the walls.
Now you’ve read about some of the top English medieval castles, why not start planning your own trip? Book your tickets for Alnwick Castle online to save on the on-the-gate ticket price.