Welcome To Wessex

Wessex is so richly endowed with magnificent country houses, major historic sites and religious foundations that it is easy to overlook its castles and forts. Particularly well known, in part thanks to its macabre history, is Corfe Castle, a property owned and managed by the National Trust, and located in a coastal area of outstanding scenic beauty, Dorset's so-called Isle of Purbeck. Most of the other properties included in our list are owned by English Heritage.

The castles in Wessex cover Britain's entire historic range from iron age sites such as the massive earth ramparts of Maiden Castle, just outside the attractive country town of Dorchester, to coastal forts built to defend Britain's shores not only in Tudor and Napoleonic times but as recently as World War Two.

Not included in our list, on account of their relative inaccessibility, are several ancient fortifications which deserve the attention of the more energetic visitor. For example, high on the western escarpment of Salisbury plain, overlooking the Wiltshire town of Westbury, is the iron age fort of Bratton Camp, immediately above the newly restored White Horse of Westbury. Further east lies the massive stone surrounding Roman wall of Silchester (its little museum alone deserves a visit). And along the crest of the Wessex Downs there are the remains of Wansdyke, the fortified earth wall built by the ancient Britons to provide protection from the advancing Saxons (the best preserved and most spectacular section lies just to the north of Devizes).

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Notes

  1. Open - Except where there is unrestricted access, castles that are open in the winter, will be closed on Christmas Day and New Yeas Day. Last admissions for these castles is usually 30 minutes before closure.
  2. Entrance fees - Where fees are charged, they are quoted for adults. Discounts are available for groups, children and sometimes for seniors and families. Please check the attraction website.for details.
  3. Groups - These should be booked in advance. Many castles will open for groups at times outside their standard opening schedule. Some castles have limited parking space for coaches and parking should be discussed when making a booking.
  4. Disabled access - Some castles can be accessed by disabled visitors but, in general, they are not the most access friendly places. Please check on the website shown in the listing for details.
  5. Parking - All parking mentioned in the listings is free.
  6. Telephone Numbers - When calling from outside Britain, after the country code 44, omit the 0 in front of the telephone number.
  7. Destination Wessex - Please contact us at info@destinationwesex.org.uk if more information is needed.

 

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Bath Devizes Taunton SherbourneSalisbury Winchester Dorchester