Abandoned Castles in England: Best ruined castles to visit

The abandoned castles in England offer a glimpse into the past of this ancient land. These haunting ruins are where history, mystery, and grandeur collide. I have visited many ruined castles in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and am always struck by the history contained in the ancient stone walls and I must admit to be a ruined castle junkie and will stop in the middle of a journey to follow a sign to a ruin.

Abandoned Castles in England

The United Kingdom is renowned for its rich history and medieval ruins, and the countless beautiful castles in England that tell tales of the past. These fascinating structures, and decaying sites hold a particular allure. These remnants of a bygone era offer an intriquing visit, transporting visitors to a time of knights, chivalry, intrigue, and royal grandeur.

Scattered across the English landscape, the abandoned castles UK evoke a sense of awe and wonder as they stand as silent witnesses to centuries of history. Despite their dilapidated state, these castles continue to captivate tourists and locals alike, offering a glimpse into the turbulent past of the nation.

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Ruined Castles across the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is home to hundreds of abandoned and ruined castles that are not only steeped in history but also provide a glimpse into the magnificent architectural practices of the past. One such castle is Corfe Castle, located in the picturesque village of Corfe in Dorset. It was established by William the Conqueror in the 11th century and has witnessed numerous battles and sieges over the centuries.

Abandoned Castles in England

How to plan your trip to the UK and Ireland

Moving towards Wales, the country has over 600 castles more than any other country in the United Kingdom. Each castle has its own unique story. From the medieval Caerphilly Castle with its imposing fortifications to the captivating Conwy Castle, which played a pivotal role in the conquest of Wales by England, these castles are a testament to the power struggles of the past.

Another extraordinary castle, Caerlaverock Castle, built in the 13th century is located in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. This triangular fortress witnessed multiple conflicts, including the notorious Siege of Caerlaverock in 1300 and in 1544 when Henry VIII ransacked Scotland because of Marie de Guise’s refusal to betroth the infant Mary, Queen of Scots to his son Edward, the castle was captured by the English, and attacked again.

Abandoned Castles in England

Lastly, the Norman castles built during the reign of Henry II are like candy for historians for their vast fortifications and strategic locations. These castles, such as the Tower of London and Warwick Castle, (although it’s a bit Disneyish for my taste) have stood the test of time and continue to pull in the tourists with their grandeur and charm.

Ruined Castles in England

All ruined castles in England bear a unique story, showcasing the tumultuous events that shaped England’s heritage. From determined fortresses turned into romantic ruins to a testament of power struggles and invasions, these remnants provide a window into the lives of the people who lived within their walls. These days many of the castles in England are preserved and operated by either the National Trust or English Heritage, who both work hard with many volunteers to preserve these ancient ruins of English history for locals and visitors.

Abandoned Castles in England

Exploring ruined castles in England is like embarking on a journey through time, where visitors can immerse themselves in the tales of ancient battles, royal feuds, love stories and architectural marvels. These structures preserve a moment frozen in history, allowing us to step back and experience the romance and grandeur of a bygone era.

Whether perched atop a hill, nestled within lush green landscapes, or standing on the edge of rugged coastlines, each ruined castle offers a unique perspective on England’s past. With each visit, visitors can uncover the secrets hidden within these crumbling walls and ignite their imagination with stories of knights, kings, and queens.

History of Castles in England

Medieval Era

The roots of castles in England can be traced back to the medieval era, specifically the 11th century. During this time, many castles were built as military strongholds (by the Normans) to protect against invasions and maintain control over the land and its riches. The castles were often constructed with stone walls, towers, and fortified gates, and were considered defensive structures.

Abandoned Castles in England

Tudor Era

In the 16th century, during the Tudor era, the significance of castles shifted from military fortresses to symbols of power and wealth. Many castles were transformed into luxurious palaces and mansions, reflecting the changing times. However, some castles fell into disrepair during this period, particularly due to political turmoil, such as the War of the Roses. Some famous Tudor Castles include: Tenby Castle, Laugharne and Pembroke Castle.

Abandoned Castles in England

Victorian Era

The Victorian era witnessed a renewed interest in medieval architecture, leading to the restoration and renovation of numerous castles. However, not all castles were fortunate enough to be revitalized during this time. Several castles, either abandoned or left in ruins, became silent witnesses of history, waiting to be rediscovered and appreciated by future generations. These included Balmoral Castle in Scotland and Castell Coch near Tongwynlais in South Wales.

is a 19th-century Gothic Revival castle built above the village of Tongwynlais Wales. Dubbed as the fairytale castle, Castell Coch or Red Castle was built in the 19th century as a love sanctuary for the 3rd Marquess of Bute and his Lady.

Famous Abandoned Castles in England

Goodrich Castle

Goodrich Castle, located in Herefordshire, dates back to the 11th century. It was once a formidable fortress that played a role in the English Civil War. Today, the castle stands as a striking ruin, showcasing its medieval splendor.

HEREFORDSHIRE, UNITED KINGDOM - Jan 24, 2020: A high angle shot of the ruins of Goodrich Castle in Herefordshire, England with fields in the background

Dunstanburgh Castle

Perched on the coast of Northumberland, Dunstanburgh Castle is a hauntingly beautiful ruin. Built in the 14th century, it served as a stronghold against the Scots. Its crumbling towers and broken walls offer a glimpse into its storied past.

Abandoned Castles in England

Kenilworth Castle

Personally I think the most beautiful abandoned castles list should include Kenilworth Castle it is a magnificent ruin in Warwickshire. With a history that spans over 900 years, this castle witnessed numerous historical events and has a rich architectural heritage. It fell into disrepair during the 16th century but still retains its grandeur.

the elizabethan garden at kenilworth castle warwickshire the midlands england uk

Bodiam Castle

Bodiam Castle, in East Sussex, is famous for its picturesque moat and imposing towers. This 13th century Castle is a prime example of a medieval castle. Despite its ruined state, it continues to captivate visitors with its beauty and charm.

Ancient Bodiam castle in Sussex England UK

Corfe Castle

Nestled in the rolling hills of Dorset, Corfe Castle is an ancient stronghold that dates back to the 11th century. This majestic ruin stands as a testament to its turbulent past and offers spectacular views of the surrounding area.

Ruins of the Corfe castle at beautiful sunrise in County Dorset, UK

Peveril Castle

Located in Derbyshire, Peveril Castle sits atop a limestone hill and commands panoramic views of the Peak District. Built in the 11th century, it served as a royal residence and later fell into disrepair. Today, it remains a dramatic and awe-inspiring ruin.

Peveril Castle seen from the Cavedale limestone valley in the High Peak District, Castleton, Derbyshire, UK on 25 July 2023

Old Wardour Castle

Old Wardour Castle in Wiltshire showcases the architectural grandeur of a medieval castle. Its picturesque setting and charming remnants make it a popular destination for history enthusiasts and photographers.

Medieval Wardour Castle near Donhead St Andrew, Wiltshire, UK on 27 May 2020

Caerlaverock Castle

Caerlaverock Castle, located in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, is a fascinating example of a medieval fortress. Although not in England, its proximity and historical significance cannot be ignored.

Caerlaverock Castle, located in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, is a fascinating example of a medieval fortress. Although not in England, its proximity and historical significance cannot be ignored.Caerlaverock Castle is a unique triangular castle with each point of the triangle capped with a turret and Caerlaverock’s moat surrounds the castle with a perfect green river.

Abandoned Castles in England

Beeston Castle

Situated in Cheshire, Beeston Castle proudly stands on a rocky promontory overlooking the Cheshire Plain. Dating back to the 13th century, it offers panoramic views and is a testament to medieval architecture.

Beeston - May 25 2022: Ruins of Beeston caslte, England.

Ludlow Castle

Ludlow Castle in Shropshire is known for its impressive architecture and rich heritage. This ruined castle witnessed the rise and fall of several noble families and played a significant role in the history of England.

From 1473 to 1483, Ludlow Castle served as the residence of Prince Edward, who is famously known as one of the ‘Princes in the Tower.’ It was during his stay here that he received the news of his father, Edward IV’s passing and subsequently assumed the royal title of King Edward V.

In another significant historical chapter, Prince Arthur, the eldest son of Henry VII, and his wife Catherine of Aragon spent several months at Ludlow Castle. Tragically, Prince Arthur passed away here on April 2, 1502. Catherine would later marry Arthur’s brother, who ascended to the throne as King Henry VIII. Their daughter, Mary, also had her presence at the castle during the winters of 1525 to 1528.

Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, Ludlow Castle remained under the control of the Crown, except for a brief period during Cromwell’s Civil War and the Commonwealth.

Ludlow Castle in Shropshire

Dunluce Castle

Northern Ireland’s most popular tourist attraction is the crumbling ruin of Dunluce Castle. While not located in England, Dunluce Castle in Northern Ireland warrants mention due to its sheer beauty and intriguing history. Perched on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, this abandoned castle is steeped in legends and myths. There is a legend that the Castle crumbled into the sea taking with it the kitchen staff when the kitchens fell into the sea.

Dunluce has one of the most dramatic histories of any UK castle. Two years after the collapse into the sea the town that surrounded Dunluce was raided by the Scots who came to settle in Ireland.

Abandoned Castles in England

Bothwell Castle

Bothwell Castle, situated near Glasgow in Scotland, is one of the grandest medieval ruins in the country. Its imposing structure and historical significance make it a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts. Bothwell Castle played a prominent part in the Wars of Independence, near Uddingston in Lanarkshire in central Scotland.

Bothwell Castle is said to be haunted by ghost of Bonnie Jean who was a young woman who wanted to marry a lover her family didn’t approve of. A monk claimed he would help her escape and marry her lover but had in reality decided he wanted her for himself.

The monk told her to meet him by the River Clyde where he would take her to her beloved. However the weather turned and the boat began to capsize and the monk the tales say abandoned the poor girl to the raging river. However the boatman turned out to be the devil and he dragged the monk down to hell for his crimes. It is said that Bonnie Jean visits the Castle on the anniversary of her death which just happens to be Halloween or Samhain.

the red stone Bothwell castle ruins in Scotland

Characteristics of Abandoned Castles

Architecture and Design

Abandoned castles in England exhibit a wide range of architectural styles and design elements. From the imposing curtain walls of medieval castles to the intricate details of Tudor-era manor houses, these ruins offer a glimpse into the craftsmanship of the time.

Ruined Structures

Castle ruins evoke a sense of both awe and melancholy. The crumbling walls, collapsed towers, and overgrown surroundings paint a vivid picture of the passage of time and the transience of human creations.

Abandoned Castles in England

Historical Significance

Each abandoned castle carries a unique historical significance. Whether it served as a military stronghold, witnessed important events, or housed influential figures, these ruins are a testament to the rich tapestry of England’s past.

The State of Abandoned Castles Today

Preservation Efforts

Fortunately, many abandoned castles in England have attracted the attention of preservation societies and organizations. These efforts aim to safeguard these historical treasures from further decay and ensure that future generations can appreciate their beauty and historical value.

Tourism and Cultural Impact

The allure of abandoned castles has not gone unnoticed by tourists. Visitors from around the world flock to these ruins to immerse themselves in the history and experience the grandeur of the past. The tourism industry’s focus on these sites has led to economic benefits for the surrounding communities and a greater appreciation for England’s cultural heritage. One of the best ways to visit the castles that have entry fees is to join either English Heritage or the National Trust, both offer a vast array of historical sites to visit at a reduced fee for membership.

Fortificaiton wall and entrance of the Oxford castle.


Q: What are some examples of abandoned castles in England?

A: Some examples of abandoned castles in England include Goodrich Castle, Dunstanburgh Castle, Kenilworth Castle, Bodiam Castle, Corfe Castle, Peveril Castle, Old Wardour Castle, Caerlaverock Castle, Beeston Castle, Ludlow Castle, and Dunluce Castle.

Q: When were these castles built?

A: The construction of these castles dates back to different time periods, ranging from the 12th century to the 14th century.

Q: Are all these castles in ruins?

A: Yes, these castles are in ruins and have been abandoned for many years.

Q: Who built these castles?

A: The castles were built by various medieval rulers and families, including the Earl of Chester, Henry VIII, and the Norman invaders.

Q: What do these abandoned castles look like?

A: These abandoned castles are impressive ruins, with some of them still retaining their grandeur despite being in a state of disrepair.

Q: Why were these castles left abandoned?

A: The reasons for the abandonment of these castles vary. Some were left in ruins due to wars, others fell into disuse after the dissolution of the monasteries, and some were simply neglected over time.

Q: Where are these castles located?

A: These abandoned castles are located in different parts of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Q: What is the historical significance of these castles?

A: These castles hold historical importance as remnants of the Middle Ages and the Norman conquest of England. They offer insights into the architecture, power dynamics, and lifestyles of the time.

Q: Are there any efforts to preserve or restore these castles?

A: Some of these castles have undergone partial restoration or digital reconstruction to preserve their historical value and provide visitors with a glimpse of their former glory.

Q: Can visitors explore these abandoned castles?

A: Yes, most of these castles are open to the public and offer guided tours that allow visitors to explore the impressive ruins and learn about their history.


Abandoned castles in England stand as timeless witnesses to the nation’s storied past. From medieval strongholds to Tudor mansions and Victorian ruins, these castles offer glimpses into different eras of history, architectural marvels, and intriguing stories. Today, efforts are being made to preserve these treasures, ensuring that they continue to captivate and inspire visitors for generations to come.

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Abandoned Castles in England


  • Faith was born in Ireland raised in Canada and has lived in over 10 countries in Europe including England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Spain, Northern Ireland, Wales, along with Mexico, Antigua, the US and has slow travelled to over 40 countries around the world. Graduating with a degree in Anthropology and Women's Studies Faith is a student of history, culture, community and food and has written about these topics for over 40 years.

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