Kenilworth Castle, one of England’s greatest medieval fortresses, has been rebuilt for the first time in Minecraft, the popular online block-building game.
English Heritage commissioned the Minecraft project by expert virtual builders, Blockworks, as part of the charity’s #LoveCastles campaign. It shows how the castle may have looked during the reign of Elizabeth I.
First built in the 1120s, Kenilworth was a royal castle for most of its history. It was expanded by King John, John of Gaunt and Henry V during its early existence, but it was improvements in the 16th century that had the greatest impact on the castle’s structure.
The castle’s eventual ruination came after it was taken by the Parliamentarian army during the Civil War in 1642. It was partly destroyed in a deliberate act of sabotage and now stands as an imposing and romantic ruin.
“Awesome though it remains, an intact Kenilworth Castle isn’t that easy to visualise,” says Jeremy Ashbee, English Heritage’s Head Properties Curator. “There are huge gaps where walls have been demolished, roofs and floors stolen, and the contents sold off or destroyed. This Minecraft model undoubtedly captures the essence of the castle that greeted Elizabeth I in 1575 – towering buildings, fashionable high Elizabethan windows, the huge lake surrounding it, and the magnificent privy garden. All of this will help the public to imagine what the castle was like in its heyday.”
To celebrate castles in all their various shapes and sizes, English Heritage is hosting Minecraft workshops at two of its most popular castles, Dover Castle on 19 August and Kenilworth Castle on 26 August.
Players who come along will have the opportunity to rebuild some of England’s most famous castles in the shadow of the real thing with YouTuber Amy Lee33 on-hand to help.
With computers provided, plus a VR headset to see your work in 3D, this is a unique opportunity to build with the professionals. Players will have up to 50 minutes to perfect their ultimate castle, placing blocks or using pre-made floorplans and components such as decorative turrets and strong walls.
The builder of the best castle will be entered into the #LoveCastles promotion to win a stay in an English Heritage holiday cottage. All builds will also be put onto a public server after the event so that players can continue their project at home.
See also: Minecraft and the Middle Ages