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Castle: A History of the Buildings that Shaped Medieval Britain

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  268 ratings  ·  36 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—i ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 1st 2004 by Pan Macmillan (first published 2003)
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Average rating 4.08  · 
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 ·  268 ratings  ·  36 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 Castl
Sep 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book employs a type of historical overview that I find very interesting. It tells the history of British castles by telling the story of how a handful of castles came to be. I listened to the audio version on Scribd (Loved the narrator a lot).
This book was easy to read and even funny at parts, but also fairly informative.
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 c ...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
K.J. Charles
A terrific overview of castles, from their arrival in England at the Norman conquest to the end of the castle building trend after the Civil War. This is really informative about design and utility, as well as revelatory about the cultural exchange going on: the architect of Caenarfon in Wales came from the Savoy (Switzerland basically) and this was under Edward I.

Really interesting with lots of human stories, and also extremely funny. I didn't expect laugh out loud lines in a book on medieval a
Mar 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very enjoyable tour through highlights of six centuries of British history from the Norman Conquest to the English Civil War as reflected in the architecture, purposes, proprietors and destiny of Britain's great castles. Like Marc Morris's other works, this one is lucidly written with a quick pace that keeps the reader engaged in the cultural, military and technological tales these castles tell through the centuries. In my opinion, the chapter on Edward I's castle-building craze is the book's ...more
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. ...more
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.
Kirsten Tancred
Oct 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absolutely brilliant read. So many little tidbit facts that I didn't know. The books flows well and doesn't get too bogged down with technical terminology. A great way to learn about castles and what constitutes a castle; whilst also learning a little bit of background history at the same time. ...more
Tom Sims
Mar 13, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, reference
A running romp through the history of castles. With a background of the political landscape that led to the development and some particular castles at various times this is an easy, mildly amusing and informative read.
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.
Tim Haynes
Mar 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
A insightful book of an important part of British history. Marc Morris has constructed a great book with enough information to want you to go visit all of these great castles.
May 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Well styled non-fiction with great history, lively prose and tales. Learned much.
Jun 16, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
informative and interesting. Not dry but not hugely entertaining. could wish the pictures were better matched up with the chapters where they talk about those specific castles.
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.
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 Wales. ...more
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 q
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.
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!)
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. ...more
Jul 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
A fascinating history of British castles.
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. ...more
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