Castles are one of the biggest tourism draws in Scotland, with thousands flocking to these historic sites every year. From imposing hilltop fortresses and rugged coastal ruins to stumpy hidden remnants dotted throughout our country, there are thousands of castles which we wanted to learn more about.
We have gone back through history to find the UK’s oldest castle, tallest castle, most Instagrammed castle, the castle most seen on the big screen, the ones with the best visitor reviews and the ones with the worst. Yes, this blog is all about castles and you are going to love it! When collating our data from trusted sources like Wikipedia, IMDB and Tripadvisor, we came to some fascinating conclusions, some of which were completely unexpected.
Read on to discover fascinating facts about these wonderful UK castles and to see which region takes the crown as being ‘The King of the Castles’.
Which UK castle reigns as the oldest?
We delved into our research to discover that Pevensey Castle in east Sussex steals the title as the oldest castle in the UK. Built in the year 280CE, it is a medieval castle and former Roman Saxon Shore fort. Following closely behind in age, we have Portchester Castle in Hampshire (285 CE), Cardiff Castle in Cardiff (290CE), Norwich Castle in Norfolk (1067) and Lincoln Castle in Lincolnshire (1068).
Due to their expense, castles are rarely built anymore. The most recent castle built in the UK is Castle Drogo, located near Drewsteignton in Devon. Construction started on Castle Drogo in 1910, and was the brainchild of Julius Drewe, a self-made millionaire. Whilst it was not built as a fortress, it was very much built in the style of a castle but with the purpose of becoming a stately home.
Which UK castle stands as the tallest?
Edinburgh Castle comes up trumps standing a whopping 250ft high above the ground, a whole 102ft higher than the second tallest in the UK: Warwick Castle. On top of this, the impressive building sits atop a volcanic crag in the middle of the city making it even higher, at a total of 443ft above sea level! Rochester Castle in Kent, Caernarfon Castle in Wales and Tattershall Castle in Lincolnshire all stand as strong contenders but none of them can steal Edinburgh Castle’s crown.
We are proud of the Scottish feat of building the tallest castle in the UK and the most iconic city castle in Scottish history.
Which #ukcastle can go down in history as the most ‘hashtagged’ on Instagram?
If you are a snap-happy Instagrammer, you will already know that if you haven’t Instagrammed it, you haven’t been there! Nowadays, hashtags are vital for proving popularity and The Tower of London steals the show with a remarkable 586,000 tags to its name. People from all over the world have posed with this ancient citadel, admired its buildings, taken selfies within the walls and showed their pics off to all of their friends – but still isn't quite as popular as the Queen herself (1.1m+ hashtags)!
Following close behind, Edinburgh Castle (547k), Windsor Castle (352k), Hampton Court Castle (155k) and Warwick Castle (104k) continue to run the race for the most Instagrammed castle in the UK. Like everything social media, trends come and go, so the Tower of London should watch its back!
Fun fact: Our data shows that Warwick Castle stands in the top ten for oldest (6th), tallest (2nd) and most Instagrammed (5th) categories, scoring 50% in the overall top ten count!
Which UK castle steals the show as the most seen on screen?
UK castles and historic houses play an important role in film and TV, with many featuring in a variety of productions from small independent films and documentaries to worldwide blockbuster movies. But which castle has featured the most?
After researching over 1900 UK castles on IMDB, we can reveal that the Tower of London has featured the most on screen with an impressive count of 53 titles. Seen in iconic films such as Trainspotting (1996) and Elizabeth (2000), you may recognise its four-pointed turrets and impressive stone boundary wall.
Windsor Castle follows closely behind with 50 titles and Edinburgh Castle (45), Alnwick Castle (42) and Dover Castle (42) sit confidently in the top five! Hands up for more Harry Potter movies to bump Alnwick Castle up to the top…!
Fun fact: Edinburgh Castle has now turned up in the top ten for tallest (1st), most Instagrammed (2nd) and most seen on screen castle (3rd), competing with Warwick Castle for turning up in the top ten of three of our researched categories.
The best-rated UK castle
It is always fun to find out what fellow travellers and adventurers think of our different attractions across the UK, so we scoured Tripadvisor and collated data from the reviews section on each castle. After sourcing total numbers of Tripadvisor reviews, we then did the maths to find the highest percentage of good reviews for each castle. Here is what we found:
Castle Stuart came out on top with the highest percentage of good reviews scoring a brilliant 97.84%. Castle Stuart is a 17th-century Tower House in the Highlands of Scotland, just a short drive away from Inverness. Restored privately from a derelict ruin, it can now be hired as accommodation, a venue for intimate weddings and a host for special events. Recently described as ‘a dream come true’, a visit here would be classed as a unique experience and to make it truly memorable, you could always request to stay in the ‘haunted room’.
Following closely behind with the highest percentage of good reviews are Dunnottar Castle, Aberdeenshire (97.81%), Rowton Castle, Shropshire (96.97%), Kidwelly Castle, Carmarthenshire (96.93%) and Pembroke Castle, Pembrokeshire (96.8%).
Who takes the crown as King of the Castles?
After collating data for over 1900 castles across the UK including standing castles, ruins and castle sites (where a castle once stood and nothing now remains), we found that Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland takes the crown being home to 94 historic castle sites across the region. This bettered Northumberland, which is known to be home to the most castles in the UK, but our research shows that this north-east coastal haven actually comes in second with 81 castles!
Aberdeenshire takes third place with 78 castles followed closely by Cumbria (77) and the Highlands (70). As you can see from the map above, England has 5/10 of the regions with most castles in our top ten count, and Scotland has 4/10. Wales takes 1/10 of the top ten with 45 castle sites in Carmarthenshire.
With this wealth of information at your fingertips, you can now plan to visit some of these castles for yourself. Which one will you visit first – the tallest or the oldest? Or will you be rushing to post a photo on your Instagram account? Come and explore the 800+ castles in Scotland and stay at one of our self-catering cottages in Scotland which can offer a wonderful base for your explorations.
You could even stay in your very own castle for a week – if this takes your fancy browse our collection of Scottish castles which you can hire out and live like royalty during your trip to Scotland.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.