England is littered with castles. Some are mere ruins, but others stand as proud today as they did when they were built many hundred years ago. They come in many shapes and sizes, have seen battles and sieges, and witnessed acts of bravery and cowardice and betrayal.
Castles are a part of the English culture and allow us to imagine how life was lived back in the days of knights and fair ladies. The oldest remaining castles date back to Norman times, when William the Conqueror's men needed protection from the English, whom they had so recently defeated. Some were simple defensive fortresses, others elaborate homes.
But life in a castle was never comfortable. Imagine living through a long, wet English winter inside one of the big stone keeps, with no glass in the windows, no running water, only candlelight to see by, and no heating but a fireplace strategically placed in the center of the cavernous hall. But still, people managed; couples fell in love, children were born and rulers passed with the years. What remains today are beautifully constructed buildings, monuments to the superb architects and craftsmen that built them, and memories to the people who made their homes there.
Castles are often found atop a hill overlooking the countryside below. This gave the lord an advantage in seeing an enemy approaching and being able to prepare for battle. To increase ones safety, many of them had moats around them filled with water or detestable creatures to deter an army for even more time to prepare.
During the 15th century, many castles were destroyed or badly damaged badly in the Wars of the Roses. Gunpowder had recently appeared on the battlefields of Europe and while castles had withstood sieges for many hundred years, they were not proof against cannon fire. Many were lost during those turbulent years and those that remained give us some of the picturesque castle ruins that the English landscape is so famous for.
Many of the castles that remain today are in the care of the National Trust or English Heritage and make a great day out while visiting England. Many have been made into a place where visitors can experience the past and see what they would have felt had they lived during this time. It will definitely change the way you view modern life today.
Please visit http://www.essentially-england.com/ to learn about England's history, food and culture. Check out some interesting facts like staying in a lighthouse, driving a steam train and playing golf late at night.