What little girl hasn’t dreamed of one day being swept away by a dashing prince to a fairy tale castle. However, an elegant castle is a rare find these days except of course in fairy tales.The remnants of a true medieval castles, basically all that remains today, would hardly fit the bill.
By true castle I refer to those dreary looking gray block buildings you may have seen in a history book or on a post card from England, Scotland or Ireland. They often have large round towers with chapel shaped windows. They look a bit like a crown upon each tower. The tower or turret provided safer quarters for the watch guards in their hey days.
Yes there are a few disintegrating castles, whose claim to royalty stopped short of deference to a family name sake. Most castles however, were built as forts to protect land rights among the royals and their peasants. They were designed to confuse the onslaught of arrows or enemy warriors whom might try to scale the walls. They were built on high mounds of land called a motte. The idea was to create a summit upon which the mainframe of the small castle would perch. Some of the larger castles had drawbridges over large bodies of water called a moat, to keep the enemy away. To transcend a moat one would have to have a boat. Instead most of the foe would build large catapults to assault their nemesis and pelting them with large boulders.
Today a visit to a historical castle will often require a strenuous walk up hillsides and along narrow dirt paths. You can get a feel for what it must have been like for medieval travelers all those years ago. Inside the moss covered castle you would find a large central hall and many chambers leading to the towers. Most of the old castles today forbid climbing the block stairs to higher floors simply because they are no longer considered safe. The musty smell of fungus and rotting wood wafts throughout the cool rooms. You can close your eyes and almost sense ghost of bygone eras still lingering among the ruins.
Why so many have been given over to nature rather than lovingly cared for, lies mostly in the ancient history that surrounds each castle and the many feuds that fueled them. The blood of so many ancestors has seeped into the very ground upon which they crumble. Seeped into the memories that need to be forgiven. Many of the families would rather forget the cruel and troubled medieval times.Yet the ruins stand as a harsh daily reminder.