Castles have always been a status symbol and a treasure trove of history worldwide. In the UK, specifically in England, some of the oldest castles date as far back as the eleventh century. In their heyday, these magnificent structures were fortresses that displayed a ruler's or sovereign's power, wealth, and influence. Besides being home to royal families and the upper crust of society (even to this very day), castles fascinate the public, house national treasures, are venues for special/significant events, and generate revenue, especially the ones that have stood tall for centuries. That said, here are ten of England's oldest castles that you can visit and should check out on your next trip.
10 Berkhamsted Castle
Built in 1067 in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, this impressive structure was a critical Norman motte-and-bailey castle. This castle oversaw the key route between London and the Midlands during the Norman conquest of England in the 11th century and was periodically used as a fortress and hunting grounds. Over the ages, more than a few kings and five Queens (including Elizabeth I) have called this Berkhamsted Castle home. Now, much of the castle lies in ruin, but the remnants of the once iconic castle are still a must-see that is free to the public.
9 Norwich Castle
Yet another stunning piece of history from the year 1067 is none other than Norwich Castle. A once medieval royal fortification in the city of Norwich, this castle is situated in the English county of Norfolk. Built for William the Conqueror in the aftermath of the Norman conquest of England, this castle was mainly used as a jail for several centuries. Until 1894, when it was converted into the Norwich Museum. This museum still calls these hollow halls home, and visitors can marvel at the art from the region and all the archeological finds on display here.
8 Warwick Castle
Initially constructed in 1068, Warwick Castle sits on the location of the previous Saxon fort built in 914 AD. For centuries this castle was in use (private use), and it wasn't until 1978 that Warwick Castle was actually opened to the public. But today, this castle is truly one of England's most preserved structures that is brimming with history. A favorite venue for live shows, the UK's largest birds of prey show, arena jousting performances, and more, Warwick Castle is a true delight for the whole family. The grounds also have stunning lush gardens—making the entire kingdom worth visiting.
7 Lincoln Castle
Another castle built around the same time period (1068), Lincoln Castle, is also worth visiting in England. A truly magnificent and medieval structure constructed by William the Conqueror, this castle is located in Lincoln and sits atop a pre-existing Roman fortress site. But that's not all; more than a few details make this castle interesting, like its two mottes, well-maintained condition, lavish castle grounds, and its history as a prison. Moreover, this castle is home to the Magna Carta and hosts several incredible art/history exhibitions each year.
6 Colchester Castle
Colchester Castle is another phenomenal Norman castle located in Essex, England. This particular structure dates back to roughly the second half of the eleventh century (1069) and impressively has an almost fully intact keep. The castle's keep durability is rumored to be due to its construction on top of the Temple of Claudius' foundation (a Roman Temple that once existed in Colchester). This fact should be reason enough to visit this incredible castle in Colchester. If not, then maybe the Colchester museum in the palace that showcases countless artifacts that span over 2,500 years of history might interest you.
5 Windsor Castle
Of course, one of the oldest inhabited castles in England is none other than Windsor Castle (1070). Home to British kings and queens for almost 1,000 years, Windsor Castle is currently the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II. By far one of the most famous castles in England, there are so many reasons to see this modern-day marvel that is full of England's past, present, and future. Not only are there virtual tours available, but interested travelers can also book in-person tours of the castle. Windsor Castle is open to the public five days a week, remaining closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
4 Richmond Castle
Known as one of the best-preserved examples of an early Norman castle, as a whole, in England, Richmond Castle was constructed around 1071. Located in Richmond, North Yorkshire, England, this towering structure was a functional castle/fortress until the 14th century. After that, the castle was periodically used during the 1850s, 1910s, and during the First World War. What's more, this particular castle even has a small part in the legend of King Arthur. So, if you happen to be in this area of jolly old England, you should make it a point to see this castle that has been named one of the U.K.'s nationally significant historic buildings and archeological sites.
3 Hedingham Castle
Constructed in the year 1086, Hedingham Castle is a gorgeous structure with a Norman/medieval keep that has been deemed possibly the best preserved Norman keep in all of England. That said, the fortifications and other structures on the castle grounds were built a few years later. Nonetheless, it is actually the castle keep that has stood the test of time here and is open to the public from Easter to October. Castle Hedingham itself remains a family home that has been passed down through several lineages over the centuries.
2 Carlisle Castle
Carlisle Castle was built in 1122 and has quite an exciting history. Over 900 years old, Carlisle Castle is in the English county of Cumbria and is a true symbol of British history. The castle was a working fortress for centuries and withstood countless battles, sieges, and more. Throughout history, this particular English structure once housed royal prisoners and was base camp for the King's Own Royal Border Regiment. As an added bonus, not too far away, visitors can also marvel at the ruins of Hadrian's Wall.
1 Dover Castle
Lastly, Dover Castle was built sometime in the 11th century in Kent, England. A larger-than-life medieval castle, this particular fortress was once the key to England's defense throughout the ages. During WWII, this castle was also used as a hospital for the wounded, and the castle grounds are full of secret wartime tunnels that you can still explore to this day. Overall, this is yet another well-preserved castle in England to add to your itinerary, and while visiting, don't forget to check out the beautiful view of the White Cliffs of Dover and see the English Channel.