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Top 10 Medieval Ruins in England

Haunting and beautiful, the ruined sites of England offer a way for people to see the Middle Ages in a raw way, revealing how centuries of abandonment have changed these castles and churches. Here is our list of the ten medieval ruins worth a visit:

Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire

After King Henry VIII ordered the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century, many of the monastic sites throughout England were abandoned and gradually fell into ruin. Fountains Abbey in Ripon, which dates back to the 12th is one of the largest and best preserved monastic ruins. For more details visit http://www.fountainsabbey.org.uk/

Bodiam Castle, East Sussex

Built at the end of the 14th century, Bodiam Castle was designed more to impress visitors than be defend the countryside. Surrounded by an imposing moat, the castle looks intact from the outside. However, the facade hides the fact that the interior of the castle is in ruins. For more details visit http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bodiam-castle/

Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire

Founded in the 1120s, Kenilworth Castle has been the site of several important events in England’s history, including a long siege in 1266, until it was partly demolished during the English Civil War. By the 18th century the ruins were becoming a tourist attraction. For more details, please visit http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/kenilworth-castle/

Glastonbury Abbey, Somerset

Over a 100,000 visitors come each year to the grounds of Glastonbury Abbey, another of the great monastic houses that dates back to the seventh century. This was also the site where in the 12th century they ‘discovered’ the grave of King Arthur. For more details, please visit: http://www.glastonburyabbey.com/

Middleham Castle, North Yorkshire

Once the home of King Richard III, Middleham Castle is a densely built fortress that once stood over 20 metres tall. The ruins still have high walls, giving the castle a maze-like feel. For more details, please visit http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/middleham-castle/

Rochester Castle, Kent

One of the tallest keeps in England, Rochester Castle rises to 38 metres (125 feet). Like the White Tower in London, this castle was built in the 11th century, and served as an important military stronghold. It’s most famous moment might be King John’s siege of the barons inside the castle in the year in 1215, which one chronicler commented: “Our age has not known a siege so hard pressed nor so strongly resisted.” For more details, please visit https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/rochester-castle/

Whitby Abbey, North Yorkshire

Standing atop steep cliffs overlooking the village of Whitby, this was one of the most important monastic sites in England during the Anglo-Saxon period. Viking raiders destroyed the monastery in the 9th century, and it would take 200 years before a new abbey was built. The second monastery would last until the Dissolution of the Monasteries. For more details, please visit http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/whitby-abbey/

Tynemouth Priory and Castle, Tyne and Wear

Overlooking the North Sea and the River Tyne, this site is surrounded by 14th century walls that walls which are 975 metres (3200 feet) in length. While the monastery was dismantled after the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the castle was used by the end of the 19th century. For more details, please visit http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/tynemouth-priory-and-castle/

Portchester Castle, Hampshire

Overlooking the English Channel, Portchester Castle was built on the site of a Roman fort. For more details, please visit http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/portchester-castle/

Wingfield Manor, Derbyshire

Built in the mid-15th century, this manor house was a symbol of wealth for late medieval and Tudor England. Mary, Queen of Scots was among its guests. Officially, the only public access to the manor is through guided tours, which take place on the first Saturday of the month during the summer. For more details, please visit http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/properties/wingfield-manor/

See also:

Top 10 Medieval Castles in England

10 Things to See at Southwark Cathedral

Exploring abandoned castles in France

Top 10 Medieval Ruins in England

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