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Explore Dorset’s Majestic Castles: Top 9 Historic Sites for Your Next Adventure

Dorset, with its rolling hills and dramatic coastline, is not just a haven for campers seeking the perfect spot to pitch their family camping tents.

It’s also a treasure trove of history, home to some of the most fascinating castles in the UK.

From ruins steeped in legend to stately homes with lush gardens, here are the nine best castles to visit in Dorset.

1. Corfe Castle

Perched atop a hill in the Isle of Purbeck, Corfe Castle’s ruins are a symbol of medieval England.

Built in 1086, its rich history includes a role in the English Civil War, leading to its destruction in 1646.

Today, the castle offers breathtaking views and a glimpse into a turbulent past.

The village of Corfe Castle, with its quaint stone cottages, adds to the charm, making it a perfect day out for history enthusiasts.

2. Highcliffe Castle

Overlooking the English Channel, Highcliffe Castle is a striking example of Romantic and Picturesque architecture.

Built between 1831 and 1836, it features French masonry and Gothic revival elements.

The castle’s interiors, adorned with antique furniture and paintings, reflect its grandeur.

The surrounding gardens and access to the beach make Highcliffe a delightful spot for a family outing.

3. Lulworth Castle

Originally a hunting lodge, Lulworth Castle is an architectural gem from the 17th century.

Despite suffering a devastating fire in 1929, it has been beautifully restored.

The castle’s symmetrical design and crenellated turrets are iconic.

Visitors can explore the interior, enjoy the parkland, and attend events like Camp Bestival held on the estate.

4. Portland Castle

Built by Henry VIII in the 1540s, Portland Castle is one of the best-preserved coastal forts from the Tudor period.

It played a crucial role in defending against French and Spanish invasions.

Today, visitors can explore the armoury, enjoy the herb gardens, and learn about the castle’s military history.

5. Sherborne Castle

Sherborne Castle, a 16th-century Tudor mansion built by Sir Walter Raleigh, is set in a stunning 1,200-acre park.

The castle’s state rooms, Raleigh’s kitchen, and Civil War relics are open to the public.

The landscaped gardens, designed by Capability Brown, offer a peaceful retreat.

6. Sherborne Old Castle

Nearby lies the ruins of Sherborne Old Castle, a 12th-century fortified palace.

It played a significant role in the English Civil War and now stands as a romantic ruin amidst beautiful grounds, offering a serene spot for wildlife enthusiasts.

7. Maiden Castle

Maiden Castle, one of Europe’s largest and most complex Iron Age hillforts, covers an area as large as 50 football pitches.

Its multiple ramparts and fascinating history make it a must-visit for those interested in ancient civilisations.

8. Christchurch Castle

The remains of Christchurch Castle, a Motte and Bailey castle from the 12th to 14th century, sit atop a hill.

Its historical significance and the scenic views it offers make it a worthwhile visit for those exploring Dorset’s heritage.

9. Sandsfoot Castle

Built by Henry VIII, the ruins of Sandsfoot Castle, a 16th-century artillery fort, overlook Weymouth Bay.

Its strategic importance and picturesque setting make it a popular spot for visitors.

These castles, each with their unique stories and stunning settings, offer a journey through time and a chance to explore England’s rich heritage.

Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or just looking for a unique experience, Dorset’s castles provide the perfect backdrop.

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