I have a love of history, however, I’m not heavily into reading about history. I prefer to see and feel it. Living in the UK gives me plenty of opportunities to explore history without having to travel huge distances. Whether it is the historic port of Liverpool with his vibrant music culture and more infamous connection to the slave trade, or a stately home or two, the remains of Roman conquerors or the castles of feudal England, I’m lucky to have seen a great deal of my country’s past as it stands today.
The nearest castle to where I live is less than ten miles away. Situated on top of a hill and largely hidden by woods, it is nothing but a shell. It existed for less than a hundred years before being abandoned and it represents the legacy of the wars fought between the Celtic people of Wales and the English barons who sought be their overlords. While the walls may have crumbled, the interior overgrown and inaccessible in places, the relics of a once mighty structure speak of an age of chivalry. Castles represent a blueprint of a bygone time and with the exception of those which have survived the ravages of time and maintained as grand homes (Windsor and Alnwick, to name a few), they are as such fertile places to be rebuilt into something new.
As a child, my brother and I ran about many castle ruins pretending to be knights and barons, fighting each other with imaginary swords and hiding in towers or underground cellars. What little remained of the massive keeps and their outer baileys, we treated as a huge playground and barring climbing the walls, castles were great for expending a mountain of energy. I merrily conjured up legions of dastardly lords, heroic squires and captured maidens in high towers. All jolly good fun for a child.
Years later, I’m still at it. My love of castles is now shaping into a novel, nothing like my childhood adventures, but a story of somebody else’s journey into history.
So, my castles have remained an inspiration to me and it’s never too late to return to an old passion and make it a new one.
Castles: A History of the Buildings that Shaped Medieval Britain.
by Marc Morris