Mike Salter is the author of the Folly Publications series of books about medieval castles, parish churches and long distance walking trails in the United Kingdom. In addition to writing, Mike specialises in making the measured plan drawings of buildings that are an important feature of his books and can be used to compare the range of buildings his work covers.
In his mid fifties, Mike has now spent over forty years studying British castles and churches.
Mike is also available as a specialist guide and speaker on castles and churches.
Set on a hill are impressive ruins of a fortified palace begun by Sir William Thomas c1435. Much of it was built by his son, Sir William Herbert, who became Earl of Pembroke, but work continued on it until the mid 16th century. There are several hexagona…"
Built by the Marshal earls of Pembroke between 1190 and 1245 and delightfully set on a rocky coastal promontory, the castle has a triangular inner ward containing a fine circular keep covered by a dome vault and several domestic buildings and an impressi…"
"This is the most complete of the many small castles built by minor Norman knights in South Wales. A few years ago it was restored and refurnished in an authentic late medieval fashion and it is a delight to visit. Lying close to an old church, it has a…"
Building the spacious 13th century curtain wall which encloses the top of a ridge above the beach must have strained the modest financial resources of the de Barri family to the limit. Only later were they able to afford to heighten it. There are two ro…"
Perched on a rock is a rectangular court with round corner towers and a huge twin-towered gatehouse. They are closely surrounded by an outer wall and a deep dry ditch. The sea has receded away from the base of the rock so that the water gate reached by …"
The late 13th century castle of the de Chaworths has a small square inner ward with four tall round corner towers. The east side has remains of domestic buildings and a projecting chapel and backs onto a steep drop to a river. The other three sides are …"
There is free access at any time to this ruin in a delightful location on a coastal headland. The low and thin wall of the small 12th century inner ward is rather ruinous, and only the base remains of a round tower added on the east in the 13th century,…"
This is the largest and most impressive of the castles of the lordship of the Three Castles (the others are Skenfrith and Grosmont, both also worth a visit). The inner ward has a 12th century curtain wall and footings of a former square tower keep lying …"
This was the seat of the de Braose lords of the Gower peninsular , around the coast of which are several other interesting small castles. The domestic buildings here are unusually complete, and, except for the 14th century chapel high up in one block, ar…"
The outer walls are partly Roman, although much rebuilt in medieval times and again from the 1890s until the 1920s. On the west side are splendid apartments, partly 15th century, but much altered in later periods. Several lofty towers of various periods …"
This former seat of the princes of Deheubarth has only fairly recently been opened to the public after a long restoration. The most complete of the castles of the princes of South Wales, it is delightfully located within a National Trust estate near Llan…"
Built by order of Edward I in 1284-87, this castle is perched on a rock by the sea and has lofty curtain walls and eight huge circular towers. One end is walled off to make an inner ward with domestic buildings and four of the towers at its corners, one …"
This seat of the Carew family has a hall-block of c1300-25 on the west side with impressive round towers rising from square bases with pyramidal spurs. The east range of c1275-90 incorporates a 12th century gatehouse and has a chapel in a tower projectin…"
Picturesquely sited on a long rock in a remote valley not far from Towyn, this is the largest of the castles of the 13th century princes of Gwynedd, although no part of it remains as complete as the keeps at Dolbardarn and Dolwyddellan. The main court is…"
This is a fine example of a concentric castle within a wet moat filled from the sea, which also gave access to a dock for ships. Begun in 1295, it has an inner ward with two huge gatehouses and six round towers, one of which contains a remarkable vaulted…"
Perched on a limestone crag with a sheer drop of 85m down to the river at the back is a small square court built by John Giffard in the 1290s on the site of an older Welsh castle. A back door leads to a vaulted passage above the cliff to a cavern with a …"
This seat of the de Bohun earls of Hereford has an almost complete circuit of curtain walls, parts of which are 14th century, when the two gatehouses were added. In the main, however, the walls are 13th century, with three round or U-shaped towers of tha…"
Protected by an artificial lake held in by a long fortified dam with several towers and three twin-towered gatehouses, there is a rectangular inner ward with domestic buildings, round corner towers and two large gatehouses. There is a lower concentric o…"
Begun the 1290s, and left incomplete in the 1330s, this is the finest of Edward I’s castles in North Wales, and is accompanied by a small but almost complete circuit of town walls with many D-shaped towers and two gateways. The castle has very lofty cur…"
The Scottish kings had a castle on this volcanic crag from early times, but only one rear gateway now predates the rebuilding by James IV and James V in the first half of the 16th century, when an impressive wall with towers at either end and a central g…"
There are several castles in Scotland called Newark, all of them spectacular and interesting. This one belonged to the Maxwells and lies on the south side of the Clyde estuary. It consists of a large mansion of the 1590s added to the north side of a late…"
In the 1390s Sir William Keith built a small L-plan tower house overlooking the approach from the shore up onto a very large flat-topped rock by the coast. The steep winding passage leading up onto the site has very large 16th century gunloops commanding…"
Set on one edge of an island in the River Dee (crossed by a ferry service when the site is open ) is a large ruined late 14th century tower house which is comparatively complete and unaltered. During their war against James II in the 1450s the Doug…"
One of the most picturesque Scottish tower houses on account of its corbelled out upper storey with a fine array of turrets or bartizans added c1615-25 by the Forbes family to a tower probably begun in the 1590s by the Mortimer family. The interior is a …"
"A 15th century court with four corner turrets with corbelled parapets backs onto a cliff on the south side, where there is an L-plan tower house with two levels of vaults and many mural rooms. The east range with vaulted cellars is 16th century, and the …"
On the western side of Scotland are a number of small 13th century castles of enclosure. This one built by the Stewarts is unusual in that the site is low lying rather than a rock outcrop, and there is a surrounding water-filled moat. Later in the 13th c…"
A small square tower house of three storeys and a lozenge-shaped court containing a hall, kitchen, chapel and other rooms entirely fill a small islet in Castle Bay, Isle of Barra. There is access by ferry when the castle is open. Much of the castle was b…"
A fine L-plan tower house of c1500-20 with gunloops and a staircase in the wing lies at the southern corner of a late 16th century courtyard with remains of chambers and service buildings on all four sides. The tower has a parapet on chequered corbelling…"
"Seat of the Maxwells, created Earls of Nithsdale in 1620, this late 13th century castle has an unusual triangular plan and a water-filled moat. The north corner has a twin towered gatehouse, the other corners single round towers. There has been much rebu…"
This fragmentary ruin is delightfully placed beside Loch Ness and is the castle depicted on the monster postcards and cartoons. The upper court forming a keep on the highest part of the site is 13th century and parts of the apartments and the base of the…"
A very impressive curtain wall 3.6m thick and 15m high with a tall round tower at each end and a gatehouse in the middle closes off a court of c1370 on a sheer-sided coastal promontory from which the Bass Rock (another fortress) is clearly visible. A hal…"
This pink coloured ruin is attractively located above a bend of the River Clyde. It was intended be a large pentagonal court with a huge circular keep and four other towers and a twin-towered gatehouse but was left incomplete when the Wars of Independenc…"
"In the mid 15th century the Campbell Earls of Argyll built a four storey tower on an older mound in a delightful location between two burns in Dollar Glen. It stands at the NE corner of a small court with walls and a gatehouse of c1600, when the tower w…"
This is a very fine example of a Scottish tower house of c1600, built by Patrick, Earl of Orkney. A wing with the main staircase and doorway projects from one corner, and the corner diagonally opposite has a corbelled turret containing a secondary stairc…"
Set on a mound at the confluence of the Teith and a tributary burn is a small but high walled court built by the Duke of Albany c1390-1400 and little altered since. A hall-block and a very lofty keep-gatehouse with a circular corner tower close off the l…"
The original 13th century castle of the de Vaux family had a small court set on a rock, with large round towers at three corners, one of them forming part of a keep complex with two other smaller towers. This part has its own tiny court and a range of th…"
This castle has a very picturesque site, a rocky promontory (once an Island) at the north end of Loch Awe, surrounded by mountains. It belonged to the Campbells of Glenorchy, later Earls of Breadalbane. The pentagonal court has three corner turrets with …"
Now named after the Fraser family and maintained by the Scottish National Trust, this castle, originally called Muchall, began as a 15th century tower house. In the 1570s it was updated into a Z-plan by adding a round tower at one corner and a square ki…"
The defensive works now visible on edges of the summit of this precipitous volcanic crag are mostly 18th century, but facing the east approach is a large 16th century artillery bastion built over the vaulted lower parts of Kind David II¹s large L-plan …"
This ruined seat of the Macdonnells, originally held by the MacQuillans, has one of the strongest and most spectacular coastal promontory sites of any castle in Britain. The large hall and its ancillary chambers date from the 1620s, when Sir Randal Macdo…"
Much of this huge restored tower house with four square corner turrets was built in the mid 15th century by the MacNamaras. The O¹Brien earls of Thomond added extra rooms on high arches between the turrets at each end c1600-25. However the main block low…"
"Very ingeniously positioned gunloops command the square pyramidal base of this late 16th century circular tower house which has recently been re-roofed and opened to the public. There are dome vaults over the first and third of five storeys and machicola…"
This is the finest medieval castle in Ireland, built by the de Lacy earls of Ulster, and later held by the Mortimers. On the south side of the Boyne is a wedge-shaped court 150m by 100m with two gatehouses, one of them circular (very rare). Parts of thre…"
One of the very few castles in County Leitrim, this is an interesting of where the original late 15th century tower house of the O’Rourke family has been reduced to its footings, but the pentagonal surrounding bawn or court on the shore of Lough Gill rem…"
A recently restored early 16th century tower of four storeys is delightfully located on a low rock on a promontory by Lough Leane. As is usual for towers in this part of Ireland one end contains a spiral staircase and a tier of small chambers over the en…"
"Standing in ruins in a field (free access any time) is a fine example of a round-cornered 15th century tower house with a big adjoining early 17th century four storey house with projecting wings at the NW corner and on the east side. The tower has mural…"
This is the most complete of the tower-and-bawn type castles of the native Irish chiefs of Ulster and has a delightful location on the rocky shore of Sheep Haven Bay. The small early 16th century tower has been somewhat altered, a house having been added…"
In fields north of the town lie impressive ruins of a rectangular royal castle of c1270 with U-shaped towers at the corners and on either side of the gateway passage. The plan resembles that of the slightly later castle of Harlech in North Wales. The Eli…"
Set on the end of a low rocky promontory are John de Courcy’s inner ward and square four storey keep of the 1180s. The keep is the best preserved of its type in Ireland and stands 27m high. King John built the middle ward in 1210-14, and Hugh de Lacy, Ea…"
This castle is typical of those built by families of English origin in the eastern parts of Ireland and there are many similar buildings throughout County Wexford, and also in Counties Dublin, Kildare, Louth and Meath. An inhabited house lies within the …"
This is the most complete of several ruined stronghouse-and-bawn type castles built by English and Scottish plantation families in County Fermanagh in the early 17th century. The design reflects the Scottish origin of its Hamilton builder. It had a hall …"
"Delightfully set on a natural mound by Kinvarra Bay is a four storey tower built by the O’Hynes in the 16th century, still privately owned and now used as the setting for medieval banquets. The tower lies on the seaward side of a very well preserved hexa…"
Set on a rock in the middle of the River Suir is a small square 13th century court with rectangular towers at three corners, a small round tower at the fourth corner, and on the south side a rectangular gatehouse later converted into a tower house, a new…"
Strangely overlooked by the cathedral west front not far to the east, this castle has an unusually complete curtain wall of c1100-20 around a single large rectangular court. There is access to the wall-walk for most of the circuit. Prison buildings of t…"
Only two long fragments remain of the original late 11th century wall around the oval bailey beside the River Medway, together with three rectangular 14th century towers, and nothing remains of the domestic apartments, but at the south end lies the very…"
Much of the splendid royal apartments in the upper ward date from the reigns of George III and George IV, with recent rebuilding after a fire, but parts of the outer walls and several square towers go back to the time of Henry II in the 1160s, as does t…"
This castle has two very fine show fronts, although some of the battlements are actually probably post-medieval. Palatial apartments rise high above the River Avon on the SE side, and on the NE is a lofty 14th century wall with a central gatehouse and …"
Set beside the north bank of the River Thames, with a wide moat around the other sides, this is a concentric fortress with a lofty inner wall with twelve towers overlooking a lower outer wall with corner bastions later made into gun emplacements. Most o…"