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Castle: A History of the Buildings that Shaped Medieval Britain
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Castle: A History of the Buildings that Shaped Medieval Britain

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  236 ratings  ·  28 reviews
As Marc Morris shows, there is more to castles than drawbridges and battlements, portcullises and arrow-loops. Be it ever so grand or ever so humble, a castle is first and foremost a home. It may look tough and defensible on the outside, but on the inside, a castle is all about luxury and creature comforts. To understand castles—who built them, who lived in them, and why— ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 1st 2004 by Pan Macmillan (first published 2003)
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 ·  236 ratings  ·  28 reviews

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T.O. Munro
Apr 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
I got this as a christmas present, but only recently got down to the starting it and then finished it fairly quickly. It is divided into six chunky chapters which make for comfortable reading portions. I also suspect that - since it was tied into a BBC series - that each chapter corresponds to an episode in the TV show.

I have a fondness for castles having dragged my long suffering family around quite a few (but not as many as I'd like to have). The cover illustration is a view of Rochester
Vicky Tazzyman
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliantly readable history.
Tom Oldale
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For anyone fascinated by Castles as I am this book is a fantastic summary of the role these buildings played throughout history and how their usefulness and purpose changed.

The book mainly focuses on the UK with vague mentions of European castles also. It basically outlines the history from the first castles, right up to the ultimate abandonment of most of them.

Marc Morris has a way of weaving human stories into the history of castles with such ease and the result is a book in which the words
Nicholas George Setford
This book is aimed at a younger audience but that does not stop it from being good for adults! Also Morris is a bit opinionated, but he readily points that out and it works well with his case studies of the various castles even if you don't fully agree with his point of view! I really enjoyed it, especially with google beside the book to further the research. I will at the next opportunity will retrace my youthful steps and revisit many of the castles he mentions and again I could see that a a ...more
Jul 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who loved castles as a kid.
Shelves: history
By looking at a selection of individual castles from different periods, Marc Morris attempts to wrestle with the question of "What is a Castle?" By looking at different castles and their different uses (from defence to stately home), and the history of those specific castles, he really brings them to life.

Fascinating and readable.
May 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Morris looks at various castles around Britain, their history and their uses. Very interesting and not at all stuffy in the way that some historians can be.
Katie (wife of book)
I had a few worries about this book: I thought it might be a bit dry and long winded, it might involve a lot of referencing to the TV show. I didn't need to worry about either as this book was well-written, informative, informal and generally a joy to read. Morris has a style that's like Dan Jones crossed with Bill Bryson.
I have read Morris' other book on Edward I but this one was a mush more general overview of castles and their history. He has included a good reading list at the end so you can
April Munday
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There can't be many books about the history of the English castle that make the reader smile. Marc Morris' writing is as readable as it is informative, but it's also entertaining. I didn't even mind reading the chapters on Scottish castles and the fate of castles during the Civil Wars of the 1640s, which don't really interest me.

Nov 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Pacy and readable history of British Castles from the Norman Conquest to the slightings that followed the Civil War. Morris makes occasional deductive leaps which appear to based on limited evidence which as a historian is a bit annoying but forgiveable.
Aurel Mihai
Jun 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good history of castles in the British Isles and the stories behind them. I enjoyed reading about the particular castles selected by the author. Highly readable. A few small areas don't translate well from TV. Usually the parts that try to be humorous. This is only a minor distraction.
Rich Gibbons
Jul 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely brilliant. I love castles and this book only furthers that feeling! Full of great information and a fun writing style, it paints evocative and interesting pictures of a wide number of historical incidents and locations.
Juliet Smith
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a somewhat dry, but fairly informative book on castles, and their various purposes. There are some illustrations and photos that provide additional details.
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very well written made the castles and their history come alive.
S. D. Howarth
A fascinating series and accompanying book to bring added life to a highly interesting subject. Detailed, well researched and comprehensively covered, it is a highly recommended book for anyone interested in the middle ages; this aspect of archaeology/history, or just wishing to know a bit more about the impressive lumps of rock dotted around the landscape.
Marcus Pailing
Nov 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I did consider giving this five stars, but ended up going for four. This was simply because I had been hoping the book would be a little more substantial than it actually was.

It was great, though. The discussion of Bodiam Castle and the reasons for building it were excellent, and demonstrate again that Marc Morris is an excellent historian, with a shrewd mind for interpreting evidence.

This would be particularly good for 'lay' readers, although it is by no means 'dumbed down' ... it just wasn't
Oct 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Good piece of popular history by excellent Marc Moriss (check out his history of the Norman Conquest). If you live in Wales, like me, castles are a ubiquitous feature of the landscape & Morriss provides a clear account of their origins, development & functions. His book helps the lay person understand what they are seeing on a visit to a castle. The book ends with the civil war and there is a good account of the siege and slighting of Raglan in Monmouthshire, one of the most beautiful in ...more
Oct 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Another excellent history book about Medieval England, this one through the perspective of castles. Why they were built, how their architecture changed, why they went into decline -- all told in a clear, engaging style, and hooked to the personalities and politics of the times. The BBC TV series that accompanies the books is quite good too (available on YouTube!)
Brian Turner
Aug 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A good look at the history of castles. Explains their introduction to England, the different types, and how they changed over the ages.

Told in an engaging and drily humorous way, it informs and manages to keep you reading to see what the next stage will be.

Broken into sections that progress logically to the final days of castles during the English Civil War.
Nov 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
I know that a lot of history books read like tedious encyclopedias, but not this one. This one is funny and easy to read. It's a good introduction for people who are interested in castle, but have no idea where to start. The documentary is also recommended.
Florence Barrett
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is an excellent book. I found it fascinating, and especially enjoyed the amusing style it is written in. Definitely recommend.
Brian Durfee
Sep 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Loved it cuz I've visited most of the castles he talks about here.
Morag Gray
Jul 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well-written, entertaining account of the various stages of castle building in Britain.
Review to come. Great book
Apr 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Coming at this topic knowing nothing about castles, I really appreciated how clearly everything was explained. A really interesting book that I'm sure will make my next visit to a castle richer.
Jul 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
A fascinating history of British castles.
Jun 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book took me longer to read than it should have. It's witty, well written for laymen(i.e. not professional historians)and it's very informative.
James Welfare
Feb 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
Informative, funny and interesting; an excellent history book. Perfectly pitched for a casual reader of history like me.
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