The oldest castle in England

by Nancy
(Auburn, WA)

What is the oldest castle in England I can tour?


That depends a little on your definition of castle. And then, does it need to be complete or can it be ruined?
At any rate, here's my selection:

1. Maiden Castle in Dorset
Not a castle in the 'stone and mortar' sense of the word. Maiden Castle is one of the oldest fortifications in England, dating back to the Iron age. It was 'recyled' during the Roman invasion of Britain ... so has seen defensive duties for a very long time. We don't know precisely what buildings the mighty ring walls once sheltered as only the earthworks remain.

2. Bamburgh Castle
Bamburgh has been a royal palace since the 6th century. Initially, it was probably fortified in wood, rather than stone ... but to my mind, Bamburgh qualifies as one of England's oldest castles.

3. The Tower of London
This one, now, is the real thing. Castle building proper was introduced to England by the Normans. When they invaded the country, they really needed the protection, so they erected castles wherever they went. Mostly, these were motte and bailey castles with wooden palisades on top, but soon after his coronation on Christmas Day 1066, William the Conqueror began to build England's first big stone castle ... the White Tower.
It has survived intact for almost a 1000 years - and yes, you can tour it.

The Tower of London is not the only Norman castle to survive more or less intact. You can find out about other Norman castles in England on this page.

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