Top 10 Castles

Conquer a Norman Castle

In 2016, mark the 950th anniversary of the Norman conquest of 1066 with a visit to one of England's Norman castles, a perfect day out for all the family. Explore the most iconic of England's fortresses, majestic Dover Castle, or scale the dizzying heights of the mighty Norman keeps at Richmond or Middleham castles.

Dover Castle

England's most powerful medieval fortress, commanding the gateway to the realm for over nine centuries, Dover Castle was begun by William the Conqueror soon after his victory at Hastings in 1066. Kids will love exploring this immense stronghold and experiencing the Great Tower, Henry II's colourfully re-created royal palace.

Visit Dover Castle

Scarborough Castle

Towering high above the North Sea and offering panoramic views over the dramatic Yorkshire coastline, Scarborough Castle has withstood many sieges. Enjoy fascinating objects from the site's 3,000 years of history, refreshments at the Master Gunner's house, and plenty of grassy headland for younger visitors to run around and explore.

Visit Scarborough Castle

Goodrich Castle

Begun by the Normans in the late 11th century on a rocky crag above the River Wye, Goodrich became the perfect medieval castle. Climb the Norman keep for fine views over the well-preserved later defences and wooded surroundings and meet Roaring Meg, the Civil War mortar.

Visit Goodrich Castle

Clifford's Tower

Built atop a mighty mound raised by William the Conqueror in 1068, Clifford's Tower is the ideal starting point for any family visit to York. The strongpoint and almost the only survivor of York Castle, once northern England's greatest medieval royal fortress, the 13th-century Tower's lofty wall-walk offers spectacular 360-degree views over the historic city and well beyond.

Visit Clifford's Tower

Orford Castle

Kids will be fascinated by the maze of passages and tiny turret-rooms within the unique and well-preserved polygonal keep of Orford Castle, built by Henry II to guard the Suffolk coast. You can explore the keep from the basement, which once allegedly housed a captive Merman, to the roof with its magnificent seaward views.

Visit Orford Castle

"There really is something quite peaceful about this place. It is magical."

Helen on Facebook

Visited Old Sarum

"Dover Castle is amazing, many years of history [...] for a good full day out!"

Carolyn on Facebook

Visited Dover Castle

Kenilworth Castle

A great Norman keep stands at the core of Kenilworth Castle, one of England's biggest and most diverse historic sites. Spanning five centuries, it's the ideal place for a full family day out. You can get 'Queen's-eye-views' over it all from the high viewing platforms in the miniature palace built by her favourite Lord Leicester to woo Queen Elizabeth I.

Visit Kenilworth Castle

Carlisle Castle

Grim and powerful, the immensely thick walls of Carlisle's Norman keep beat off enemies and penned in prisoners for many centuries. A fascinating family-friendly exhibition leads you through the long and often violent history of this crucial Anglo-Scottish border fortress, the last English castle ever to suffer a siege.

Visit Carlisle Castle

Old Sarum

Explore the lost Norman city of Old Sarum – the ancestor of Salisbury – set within the mighty encircling earthworks of a 2,500-year-old prehistoric hill-fort. Scale the ancient ramparts for wonderful views over Salisbury Plain, and trace the footprints of a Norman castle, palace and cathedral, abandoned when their inhabitants moved downhill to found Salisbury.

Visit Old Sarum

Family Days Out

Discover more great places to visit across the country with the kids this season, from mighty Norman castles to atmospheric abbeys.

'step into englands story