Arundel Castle

Arundel Castle - Medieval History - Medieval Castles - Middle Ages History - William the Conqueror - Roger de Montgomery - Medieval England - NormansBuilt by Roger de Montgomery on the site of an existing Saxon fortification, the castle of Arundel overlooks the River Arun in West Sussex. William the Conqueror granted Roger de Montgomery the land and charged him with the task of defending the southern coast of England from attack.

The oldest part of the castle is the motte, over 100 feet high, built in 1068. The gatehouse followed soon afterward in 1070.

In the year 1102, the forces of Henry I forced Robert de Belleme (the owner at the time) to surrender the castle, and so the castle passed out of the family of Roger de Montgomery.

King Henry I took control of the lands, and after his death,  his second wife, Adeliza of Louvain, married William d’Albini II, who constructed the shell keep on the motte. In 1155, King Henry II appointed William d’Albini II as Earl of Arundel. Henry II also constructed many of the oldest sections of the stone castle.

Over the centuries, Arundel has been passed down among several families. Female heiresses of the d’Albinis carried it into the 13th century, at which point the Fitzalans took control of the castle. The Howards followed the Fitzalans in the 16th century, and for 800 plus years, the Dukes of Norfolk and their ancestors have possessed it.


“Arundel Castle: The Castle.” (accessed November 11, 2009).

“Arundel Castle.” Timeref: History Timelines. (accessed November 11, 2009).

**photo by Gregg M. Erickson

Additional Reading:

Ordericus Vitalis on Henry I from the Ecclesiastical History describes the siege of Arundel castle by King Henry I against  Robert de Belleme.

Warwick Castle

Constructed around 914AD on the orders of Ethelfleda, daughter of Alfred the Great, Warwick Castle was at first only an earthen rampart on top of a hill built to protect the citizens of Warwick from Danish invaders. Over the centuries, several additions were made to strengthen the defenses and update the fortification.

  • 914 – Earthen rampart constructed by Ethelfleda
  • 1068 – William the Conqueror constructs a motte & bailey castle
  • 1088 – Henry de Beaumont becomes the1st Earl of Warwick
  • 1242 – The castle estate passes from Thomas (the last de Beaumont Earl of Warwick)to his sister, Margaret, and her husband John Du Plessis
  • 1260 – Stone is used in the castle construction in place of wood
  • 1264 – Simon de Montfort, the Earl of Leicester, and his rebel forces attack the castle during the Baron’s War
  • 1268 – On the death of William Mauduit, the castle passes to Mauduit’s nephew William de Beauchamp
  • 1312 – Piers Gaveston is tried and and sentenced to death for treason
  • 1395 – Guy’s Tower is completed
  • 1431 – Richard de Beauchamp, the Earl of Warwick, supervises the trial of Joan of Arc
  • 1445 – Henry de Beauchamp appointed as the first (and last) Duke of Warwick by King Henry VI
  • 1449 – Richard Neville, husband of Henry de Beauchamp’s sister, becomes the next Earl of Warwick. During his time as Earl, Richard managed to depose both Henry VI and Edward IV, effectively earning himself the title of “Kingmaker”
  • 1471 – Richard Neville dies as the Battle of Barnet


“Warwick Castle.” (accessed October 14, 2009).

“Warwick Castle.” TimeRef – History Timelines. (accessed October 14, 2009).

Additional Reading:

Brown, R. Allen ([2004] 1954). Allen Brown’s English Castles. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press.

Crouch, David (1982). “Geoffrey de Clinton and Roger, earl of Warwick: new men and magnates in the reign of Henry I”. Historical Research 60: 113–24.

Friar, Stephen (2003). The Sutton Companion to Castles. Sutton Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7509-3994-2.

Greville, Frances Evelyn Maynard (1903). Warwick Castle and its earls from Saxon times to the present day. Hutchinson.

Jacques, David (Summer 2001). “Warwick Castle Grounds and Park, 1743-60”. Garden History 29 (1): 48–63. doi:10.2307/1587354.  Retrieved on 19 June 2008.

Keightley, Thomas (1839). The History of England. Whittaker and co..,M1.

Liddiard, Robert (2005). Castles in Context: Power, Symbolism and Landscape, 1066 to 1500. Carnegie Publishing Ltd. ISBN 0-9545575-2-2.

The Top 100 Medieval Castles

Caerlaverock Castle - Medieval Scotland - Medieval History - Middle Ages HistoryFrom

“In Europe and Asia more than 10.000 medieval castles can be found. selected the most beautiful and interesting castles and ranked them in a top 100 list. You can contribute by voting on your favorite castles: find the castle, click on it and submit your rating. At the end of a year all ratings will be added to the top 100 list. The total list contains 976 castles. This makes it possible to show top lists per country or region.”

*image is of Caerlaverock Castle, retrieved from

Construction of a Medieval Castle in Arkansas

My friend Linda McCabe has posted an article about a medieval castle being built in Arkansas. It’s part of a project to reconstruct a castle based on the actual methods used in the Middle Ages. The project is called the Ozark Medieval Fortress, and it began in June 2009. By 2010, the construction site will be open for visitors. In twenty years, the actual castle will be complete.

Each stone will be cut by using hammers and chisels and then hewn by hand to an exact shape dictated by the masons. Currently, the project is hiring stone cutters and masons. Details can be found on the Web site. The project is also in need of volunteers. Many volunteers who helped out on a similar project in France used their holiday time to take part in the construction. Likely, the Ozark project will need volunteer blacksmiths, carpenters, tile makers, rope makers, tree cutters, etc.  You may contact the project on its Web site with any questions.

Linda has posted some nice photos of the project on her Web site, so check them out, and if you can help out in any way with this socio-historic project, please do so.

Medieval Castles: Old Wardour Castle

Old Wardour Castle - English Heritage - Medieval Castles - Middle Ages History - Medieval History - Medieval EnglandOld Wardour Castle, located near Tisbury in the English county of Wiltshire, sits on a slight rise above a lake and was once the home of Baron John Lovell, the fifth Baron Lovell. John Lovell acquired the land from the St. Martin family when Sir Lawrence de St. Martin died in 1385, and John built the home, with the permission of King Richard II, more as a luxurious residence than a fortified castle. Constructed of locally quarried greensand, with master mason William Wynford overseeing the project, the castle was fashioned after the hexagonal style then popular on the Continent, particularly in France, making its architecture unique to Britain.

In the 16th century, the residence passed from the Lovell family to the Arundell family, purchased by Sir Thomas Arundell of Lanherne in 1544. Under the ownership of a strong Roman Catholic family, Wardour Castle witnessed many battles during the English Civil War. In 1643, the Parliamentarian Army forced Lady Blanche Arundell to surrender the castle. In turn, Lady Blanche’s son, Henry 3rd with his Royalist Army beseiged the castle, destroyed a good portion of it, and in March 1644, the Parliamentarian garrison surrended, returning the castle to the Arundell family.

Today, English Heritage manages the castle, a ruinous shell of its once former glory. Still, much of the castle remains intact and is open to the public. Old Wardour Castle was one of the filming locations used for the 1991 Kevin Costner film Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.

*image retrieved from

Kilchurn Castle

The morning mist hovers over Loch Awe, and across the lake, on the northeastern edge, Kilchurn Castle and the mountains beyond reflect in the still waters, transporting visitors back to a time when the Campbells of Glenorchy ruled this region. All that stands today are the castle ruins, but Kilchurn was once the site of a great fortress, a testament to the power and wealth of the Campbells (later to be known as the Breadalbane family).

Sir Colin Campbell of Glenorchy constructed the original keep in the mid-15th century, and at the time, the castle stood on an island. Today, Kilchurn sits on a peninsula surrounded by water and marsh; the water level of the lake was lowered sometime in the 19th century, creating a causeway out to the island. Over the centuries, the Campbells added additional buildings, towers, and walls to the castle complex.

The entrance to the keep is located along the north wall, on the ground floor, with stairs to the upper stories on the opposite corner of that floor. Bedrooms are located on each side of the stairwell at the east end of the keep. Adjacent to the keep are a storeroom and a kitchen, and beyond that is the courtyard surrounded by walls and flanking towers.

After 400 years, the castle outlived its usefulness: the Campbells had finally defeated their hated rivals the McGregors, and they had pacified the surrounding Highland clans. The family moved to Taymouth Castle in Perthshire, leaving Kilchurn to age beneath the Scottish sun, weathered by rain and wind and snow and time.

Photos of Kilchurn Castle


“Kilchurn Castle.” (accessed July 7, 2009).

“Kilchurn Castle.”  Historic Scotland. (accessed July 7, 2009).

MacGibbon, David. The castellated and domestic architecture of Scotland from the twelfth to the eighteenth century. Mercat Press, 1977.

Castles Around the World

Beautiful photos of castles from around the world, not all of them medieval (like Neuschwanstein). The colors and compositions are really nice, even though they have been edited in post or are HDR images. The section has been split into three parts:

The reflection of Kilchurn Castle (Scotland) in the lake is one of my favorites (found in part 2). Kilchurn Castle, built in the 15th century, was the ancestral home of the Campbells of Glenorchy, who later became the Earls of Breadalbane. Today, the castle lies in ruins. More on Kilchurn Castle later.

Hedingham Castle

Hedingham Castle - Medieval Castle - Medieval England - Aubrey de Vere Family - Middlesex - Essex - Medieval History - Middle Ages HistoryThe 110-foot tall keep of Hedingham Castle still towers above the landscape of modern day England. Surrounded by trees and an open green stretching away from the main entrance stairway, the Norman keep stands as the last remnant of a once magnificent medieval castle.

Home to the de Vere family for five centuries, Aubrey II first built the castle in 1140. Aubrey’s father, Aubrey de Vere, was one of William the Conqueror’s most loyal knights, and he fought with William at the Battle of Hastings. In return for his service, William granted Aubrey lands in several counties, including Middlesex. The de Veres were a rich and powerful family in medieval England, and Hedingham had the privilege of entertaining royal guests over the years such as King Henry VII, King Henry VIII, and Queen Elizabeth I.

Queen Matilda dubbed Aubrey III the 1st Earl of Oxford. The 2nd Earl, also Aubrey, fought with Richard the Lionheart, and Robert, the 3rd Earl, sided with the barons against King John, eventually forcing him to sign the Magna Carta in 1215.

The de Veres fought at other important battles throughout history, including: the siege of Caerlaverock, the Battle of Crecy, the Battle of Poitiers, the Battle of Agincourt, and Bosworth.

The Archbishop of Canterbury served as the architect of Hedingham Castle, and to this day, a member of the de Vere family still owns it.

Sources (text):

“Explore the History: The de Vere Family.” Hedingham Castle. (accessed June 25, 2009).

“Castle Hedingham: Keep.” Ancient and Medieval History Online. Facts On File, Inc.
ItemID=WE49&iPin=AMH278&SingleRecord=True (accessed June 25, 2009).

Source (image):

*image retrieved from

Review of Castles of Europe: From Charlemagne to the Renaissance

Castles of Europe - William Anderson - Medieval Castles - Medieval Europe - Middle Ages History - Medieval HistoryCastles of Europe: From Charlemagne to the Renaissance
By William Anderson, Photographs by Wim Swaan
Copyright 1970 – Paul Elek Productions, London; Random House, USA

Castles of Europe: From Charlemagne to the Renaissance is an older book — at least the edition I own — and you’ll likely have to find a used copy if you want to buy it. While nearly forty years old, this book really has some wonderful photographs of medieval castles throughout Europe. The pages are large, and some of the photographs take up the entire page in sharp detail. There are also plenty of illuminations and castle diagrams to study.

The book is broken out into ten chapters, spanning various regional architectural designs of castles down through the centuries of middle ages history. These chapters include:

  1. The Origins of the European Castle (e.g. – Byzantium, the knights of Charlemagne, the Vikings)
  2. Castles in an Age of Conquest (the Normans conquest of England, the motte-and-bailey castle, German castles in the 11th century, the first Crusade)
  3. Castles of the 12th and 13th Centuries — Soldiers, Masons, Ladies, and Lovers (the knights, arms and armor, day-to-day life)
  4. Capetians and Angevins (Castles in the Holy Land, Henry II, Castles in 13th century England, Spain and Portugal)
  5. Hohenstaufens and Communes — German, Austrian, Swiss, and Italian Castles of the 12th and 13th Centuries)
  6. Warfare, Courts, and Castles in the 14th and 15th Centuries (the castle in a changing world, towns and technology)
  7. French, English, Spanish, and Portuguese Castles of the 14th and 15th Centuries (includes The Hundred Years War)
  8. Castles of Eastern, Central, and Mediterranean Europe in the 14th and 15th Centuries (Teutonic Knights, the Hussite wars, castles of the Netherlands)
  9. Kings, Cannons, and Gunpowder
  10. Changes and Transformations – the Later History of the Castle

In addition to photographs, illuminations, and diagrams, Castles of Europe also has plenty of middle ages history text surrounding the life of a castle : people, events, battles, etc. It is a thick volume of work, some 302 pages including the notes at the end. Its physical size is approximately half an arm in length.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars