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Ten of the most beautiful castles in the UK
  • This spectacular artifice has wonderful coastal views. Although the building as it stands is relatively recent - much of it dates back to late Victorian times - the castle boasts a long history: it was once home to the kings of ancient Northumbria, and archaeological digs have unearthed some spectacular prehistoric finds. Don't miss: live archeology during July and August, complete with children's dig pit.

  • OK, so this one isn't exactly a secret castle - it's one of the most iconic images of Scotland - but we love it too much not to include it. Sitting on an island at the point where three lochs meet, this amazing sixth century castle is surrounded by majestic scenery. Open every day from March 1 - October 31. Don't miss: seeing the castle at dusk when the views of the reflected castle in the water are beautiful.

  • The sheer scale of this castle gives it a rather overwhelming presence and majestic persona. It was designed to echo the walls of Constantinople, and has remained unchanged ever since. Open all year. Don't miss: The wonderful views from the towers. You'll have to be fit to climb all the steps but it's worth it!

  • Perched on a rocky crag and only accessible via a three-mile causeway at low tide, Lindisfarne was originally a Tudor fort that was part of the national defence for more than 300 years. Open: selected dates March - October, plus certain weekends in winter. Visit nationaltrust.org for more details. Don't miss: The castle's own internal wind indicator, which is still in working order.

  • Built on a rock in the 13th century, this beautiful castle has been well preserved. Although it is privately owned, there are a number of private tours available each year. Don't miss: a stroll up the hill above the castle to see best views of the structure as well as the surrounding countryside.

  • For 600 years, Mont Orgueil Castle did a rather good job of protecting Jersey from French invasion. Today, lifesize wooden soldiers guard the castle from attack to give the visitor a taste of its past life. Open all year. Don't miss: The 'witchcraft' exhibit in the cellar.

  • You can't do a roundup of castles without including this one. Did you know that tn 1588, it was on St Michael's Mount that the first beacon was lit to warn of the arrival of the Spanish Armada? Open 26 March - 28 September, and selected dates during winter. Don't miss: the new Bronze Age Hoard exhibition.

  • Set in peaceful countryside near the Welsh border, this manor house dates back to the 11th century with a great hall that has remained unaltered since 1291. Open all year round. Don't miss: The timber-framed gatehouse, and the original medieval tiled roof in the north tower.

  • A Tudor fan's paradise, this double-moated castle was once the childhood home of Anne Boleyn and dates back to 1270. The long gallery features costumed figures of Henry VIII . Open all year.  Don't miss: The two huge Books of Hours (prayer books) signed by Anne Boleyn.

  • This late-13th century gem is simply majestic: appears to grow organically out of the rock on which it perches. Gazing out across the landscape, it keeps a watchful eye on Snowdonia. Its fascinating history includes a long seige her during the Wars of the Roses. Open all year. Don't miss: The small exhibition telling the story of the castle and the history of the rooms.

  • Built by the English monarch Edward I to establish his authority over Wales, this unfinished masterpiece is regarded by many as the finest of all Edwardian castles in Wales. It has been acclaimed as a technical and architectural masterpiece for its nigh-on perfect symmetry. Overlooking mountains and sea, this is a spectacular World Heritage site well worth a visit. Open all year. Don't miss: The hundreds of cleverly positioned 'murder holes' - one of the many reasons enemies would have found the castle impossible to penetrate.