Can You Identify These British Castles From a Photo?

Zoe Samuel

Image: Mike Matthews Photography / Moment / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Britain is particularly famous for its beautiful stately homes, but these are mostly relatively recent in their construction. Before the stately home, the dominant way for a lord to impose himself on his manor was far more imposing — they would build a castle.

The shift from the one to the other is attributable to two reasons. Firstly, the rise of gunpowder and more modern weaponry made castles less and less relevant. Before this, castles were a great way to dominate a landscape, as they could generally hold out against sieges for years. However, there's not much point putting up an incredibly expensive and high-maintenance stone construction when someone can easily knock it down. After all, in a cloudy and chilly climate, large windows are far more preferable, and once the weapons outstripped the castles, there was simply no reason to build new ones. The other reason for the shift is that Great Britain has been internally peaceful since the Battle of Culloden in 1743, and peaceful within England, Wales and much of Scotland since 1660. This means that there is no need for a fortified manor, as there is nobody to fight!

The upshot of this is that castles inherently represent a more violent and primitive time. This means they are all replete with history, and much of it is bloody indeed. While they were not built primarily to be beautiful, they are also mostly stunning, and despite their age, many are in very good shape. Let's find out how many you can identify from a picture!

Which is this castle, the ancestral seat of the Dukes of Northumberland?

Alnwick Castle, pronounced "annick" is the ancestral seat of the Dukes of Northumberland. It is a magnificent fortified manor where these powerful dukes controlled the North and kept out the Scots. It features in "Harry Potter" and "Downton Abbey," and is noted for its exceptional water gardens.

What is this castle, that is centuries old, and was also a base from which Britain was defended against the Nazis?

Dover Castle is on the south coast overlooking the town with the same name. As this was the port that is closest to France, it was considered a key invasion point throughout history. As a result, Dover Castle has always been well fortified. Even during World War II, it was home to a unit tasked with protecting the coast. With the nearby White Cliffs, it is well worth a visit!

What is this fairyland castle, built by the Duke of Rutland?

Belvoir Castle is pronounced "beaver," and it is a relatively young castle compared to some; it is only a couple hundred years old. It is the residence of the Duke and Duchess of Rutland, which is the title of the Manners family. The 4th duke built the fairytale castle for his wife, and the place is not a "proper" castle as it has no real defenses; it was made in a time of peace just to look beautiful.

What is this 14th century castle in East Sussex?

A knight of Richard II, Sir Edward Dalyngrigge built this castle, probably to defend against French invasion. You may recognize Bodiam Castle from "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." It is the property of the National Trust and thus not inhabited by a family at present.

What is this castle, which is in Kent but sounds like it should be in a major industrial city of the north?

Leeds Castle is not actually in Leeds. It is in Kent, the wealthiest county in the UK. It belongs to itself; the late Lady Baillie left it in public trust. It is 900 years old but very easy to get to as it is right off the major train routes between London and Dover.

This castle is in a town on the Scottish borders. What is its name?

Carlisle Castle is in the town on the Scottish border that is just across from Gretna Green, where couples could marry without parental consent. It has been an active castle most of its almost thousand years in operation and was briefly home to its most famous prisoner: Mary, Queen of Scots.

What is the name of this castle in the second-biggest city in Scotland?

Edinburgh Castle is in the heart of the city and sits on an old volcanic "plug" — that is, a remnant of the core of a dormant volcano. It was built in the 12th century by David I of Scotland and was home to many Scottish monarchs.

What is this castle on an outcropping on the coast of Northumberland?

Bamburgh Castle is in Northumberland, the northern county whose duke was tasked with keeping the Scottish out of England. It is on an outcrop and fully reachable by public transport, and is still inhabited. It is also said to have several ghosts!

This castle enjoys the largest Norman-era keep in Europe. What is its name?

Colchester Castle features several Roman coins and a gladiator vase in its collection. It is not the biggest castle of all, but it is exceptional for having a roof on its battlements, and a very large keep. Visit to find out about its history with Matthew Hopkins, the sinister Witchfinder General!

What is this ruined castle that is the property of the Duke of Northumberland and is located in a village that shares its name?

Warkworth Castle is a ruin, but a very impressive one. It's near Newcastle, so easy to reach by public transport. It's also near the coast of the North Sea, for a blustery day at the beach!

What is this castle that was built by William the Conqueror?

Lincoln Castle is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, the document that served as the precursor to British democracy. It was a small but necessary step. The castle goes back to 1068, though the site has been inhabited since the Roman age.

Can you name this charming little castle that is on the Isle of Man?

Peel Castle is a charming 15th-century castle in the little town of Peel, on the Isle of Man. The original building was built by Norse settlers who invaded in 1098. The castle is on St. Patrick's Isle and joined to the mainland by a causeway, making it highly defensible.

Do you know the name of this castle in South Yorkshire?

This castle inspired Sir Walter Scott's bestselling novel "Ivanhoe." It was built by William de Warenne in the 11th century and was later lived in by Hamelin Plantagenet, the half-brother of Henry II.

What is this castle that was home to some very famous illuminated gospels that share its name?

Lindisfarne was once home to a monastery where some absolutely gorgeous medieval manuscripts were created. The Lindisfarne Gospels now live in London at the British museum, but Lindisfarne is still worth a visit. It's on an island in the North Sea, near the town of Berwick, and is reachable by a causeway.

Built by the powerful Nevill family, what is this castle near Durham?

This 14th-century fortress was built by the Nevill family, who were mostly based at Warwick as the family title is Earl of Warwick. The family is currently home to the Vane family, and the current heir, 12th Lord Barnard, is still in residence. It is one of the best-preserved medieval castles in England.

Do you know the name of this castle that stands astride the River Medway?

Rochester Castle is a Norman building that has a thousand-year history dating back to its construction by Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester, during the 1080s. It has survived being besieged multiple times, including by King John himself.

What is this castle in the North that is very near an old Norman cathedral that shares its name?

Durham Castle is in the city center and thus very easy to reach, including by train. Like the nearby cathedral, it is nearly 1,000 years old. Currently, students of Durham University live in it, as they have for 180 years!

Can you remember the name of this castle in Cornwall that is a thousand years old?

This castle was built in the 1060s by Robert, Count of Mortain. In the 16th century, it was a prison called "Castle Terrible," and it was also once home to a mint. However, all the coins have since been removed!

Do you know the name of this enormous Welsh castle?

This castle is a World Heritage Site, as it is considered exceptionally well-preserved. It stands on the site of an earlier Norman castle, and before that, a Roman one. Unlike older castles, Caernarfon Castle was built with polygonal towers, designed to deflect cannonballs.

This castle is one of the Queen's residences. Do you know its name?

Windsor Castle is just a short train ride and then a little walk from London. It's a particularly beautiful castle and the second-largest inhabited castle in the world! Fortunately, it was not too badly damaged by a severe fire in 1992 and has since been restored.

This Shropshire castle is a ruin AND a hotel. What is its name?

Ludlow Castle was first built by the Lacy family, who were in service to a lord in William the Conqueror's army. The castle was where the elder brother of Henry VIII, Prince Arthur, passed away, an event that altered the course of British history.

This unusual round castle was built in the 13th century. Do you know its name?

Restormel Castle is an unusual round fortress that was built in the 11th century. It didn't spend very long in use, by normal castle standards, falling into disrepair for a period before it was owned by The Black Prince, son of Edward III. Once he passed away, the castle was left to ruin, and except for a period of use during the English Civil War, it has been thus ever since.

What is the name of this ruined castle at Embleton Bay?

This castle was huge but is now a ruin that features on one of the most popular hiking routes in Britain. It is on the coast of Northumberland. One of the walking options includes the official Dunstanburgh ghost walk, where you can potentially see some of the castle's restless spirits.

Formerly known as Bray Castle, what is this castle in East Sussex?

This castle is one of the oldest stone keeps in the UK. It was built right after the Norman invasion and designed to send a message to rowdy Saxons that rising up was not permitted. Construction began in 1067 under the auspices of Odo, Bishop of Bayeux (as in the tapestry).

What is this castle named for the town it overlooks in Yorkshire?

Richmond Castle is a thousand years old and in exceptional shape. It was constructed by a Norman lord known as Alan the Red and is unusual for being a Norman keep as far north as Yorkshire that was still built soon after the Conquest.

This castle was built by Henry VIII to defend Cornwall. What is it called?

Pendennis Castle was constructed by Henry VIII, but it has been in military use as recently as World War II when it was a secret base. It defends Falmouth, a Cornish town. It was an artillery fort, meaning it has substantial battlements where Tudor guns were placed.

Henry VIII married a member of a family that built this castle. Can you remember its name?

Castle Howard is home of the Howard family, and it is an unusual castle because it is actually a stately home. Typically a castle is fortified, but this one is not, as it began construction in 1699, in a time of peace. It is one of the Treasure Houses, the 10 stately homes in England laying claim to the finest art collections.

What is the name of this castle, located in the same town as the home of the leading Archbishop in the Church of England?

Canterbury Castle was built very quickly after the Norman Conquest. Originally a wooden castle was built, later replaced by stone. Canterbury is in a key strategic position guarding the Wantsum Channel, which means that it controls access to London by ship. The keep is the third-largest in England.

First known as Ewias Lacey Castle, what is this fortified ruin in Herefordshire?

This castle is the second on the site; the previous one was a wooden one. It was built to protect the English from Welsh raiders, during the 11th century. The baron in charge of constructing it was one Walter de Lacy, though he decided to waste not and reused earthworks left over from an earlier Roman fortification.

This Norman castle on the River Tyne was occupied for nine centuries. What is its name?

Prudhoe Castle is a thousand years old and was built to stop the Scots invading England. It was besieged twice but did not fall. From 1381, it was the property of the Dukes of Northumberland.

Can you tell the name of this castle in this market town in the Yorkshire Dales?

Built by Robert de Romille, this castle is very well-preserved for its age. It was built after the Harrying of the North, a period of retribution against rebels against Norman rule. The castle was in trouble in the 17th century, but Lady Anne Clifford renovated it.

What is the name of this castle, named for the county in which it stands?

Records about Lancaster Castle's history are unclear. It is probably an 11th-century castle. Some notorious trials occurred there, including those of the Pendle Witches. Until 2011, it was a working prison. George Fox, the founder of the Quakers, was locked up there!

This castle shares its town with a notable university. What is its name?

Considering how old and beautiful most of central Oxford is, this castle fits right in. It began life in 1071, though the main tower may be older. After its life as a military castle, it became an administrative center and a prison.

What is the name of this castle in the capital of Wales?

This castle is on the site of a Roman fort, on a spot that has been fortified for 2,000 years! It has been constantly updated and includes the old Norman construction and a Gothic revival mansion.

Built over 700 years ago, which is this Welsh castle?

Architecturally, Conwy Castle is the platonic ideal of a castle. It was built under Edward I during the conquest of Wales, and is simply flawless as an example of castles of the period.

What is the name of this single brick tower in Lincolnshire?

This castle in Lincolnshire shares its name with a floating pub in London. Property of the National Trust, Tattershall Castle is a single tower made out of brick, making it that rare thing: a castle that is not fortified.

Recently restored, this castle is located in the county of Devon. What is its name?

This is a real place, built by an eccentric millionaire, Julius Drewe, in the early 1900s. It's named for a probably mythical Norman baron of the name of Drogo de Teign, which Drewe claimed was an ancestor. It is known as "the last castle built in England."

Can you name this castle in a town known for its notorious sheriff?

Nottingham Castle has undergone a very pricey restoration and is now in particularly great shape. It's not the castle from the time of Robin Hood and is instead a more recent construction that is nonetheless worth a visit.

What is this once-magnificent ruin with a terrifying history?

Pontefract Castle has a somewhat dark history, as a lot of people have been executed there. It is also the location of Catherine Howard's affair with Thomas Culpepper. The fifth wife of Henry VIII, Catherine was 30 years younger than her husband and was beheaded for cheating on him. Pontefract is also where Richard II was killed.

Not much is left of this castle near Oxford. What is the name of it?

Wallingford is a little town near Oxford, and its castle is in disrepair these days. The Normans built Wallingford Castle on the site of a Saxon fortress, and it was home to the Black Prince himself.

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