It’s almost six months since the first part in the series on Britain’s Beautiful Castles and seeing as it seems to have been a popular topic I thought I would take you on another trip to see a few more. I’ll start in northeast England on Holy Island and Lindisfarne Castle. Sited atop the volcanic mound known as Beblowe Crag, Lindisfarne Castle is one of the most distinct and picturesque features of Holy Island and can be seen from many miles around. The castle was built in the 1550’s using stones from the demolished Priory and in 1901 it was purchased and created into the Edwardian country house you see today.
Across the border now into Scotland and over on my favourite west coast, we find Castle Stalker. Built around 1540 by Duncan Stewart of Appin, it was gifted by him to James IV for use as a hunting lodge. In fact, its Gaelic name Caisteal Stalcair translates literally as ‘Castle of the Hunter’. It sits at the mouth of Loch Laich, by Loch Linnhe on a rocky islet known as the Rock of the Cormorants which is also the battle cry of the Stewarts of Appin. In the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Castle Stalker appeared as Castle Aaaargh.
Still in Scotland and over to the wonderful Western Isles or the Outer Hebrides and the Isle of Barra in particular. Kisimul (or Caisteal Chiosmuil) Castle sits on a rocky islet in the bay just off the coast of in Castlebay. Legend has it that this has been the stronghold of the MacNeils since the 11th century. The castle gets its name from the Gaelic words cios, (tax or tribute) and mul (mound), meaning “The place where taxes are paid.”
Travelling right down the coast to South Wales and Pennard Castle. Pennard Castle’s situation is dramatic and beautiful. It is perched on the edge of the valley of the Pennard Pill, with a sheer drop below to the north and west. From it, there is a sweeping view out towards Three Cliffs Bay, and across the valley to Penmaen Burrows.
Finally, I move back into England and visit the south coast at Hurst Castle with a rather mysterious image. Hurst Castle, viewed here over Keyhaven Mudflats, is one of Henry VIII’s Device Forts, built at the end of a long shingle spit at the west end of the Solent to guard the approaches to Southampton. Hurst Castle was sited at the narrow entrance to the Solent where the ebb and flow of the tides create strong currents, putting would-be invaders at its mercy. Also known as a Henrician Castle, Hurst was built as part of Henry’s chain of coastal defences to protect England during the turbulent times of his reign.
So that completes this second journey around some of Britain’s Beautiful Castles which I hope you have enjoyed. I still have more castles to share in this series and hopefully, next time will not be as long a wait as it was for this second selection.
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