Great Britain is part of Europe. It is made up of the counties of England, Scotland and Wales. The country has a long military history. Since the 11th century, Great Britain had been involved in wars with troops from various parts of continental Europe. Many of these wars were fought on home ground, with armies arriving by sea in attempts to conquer various parts of its land.
Castles were important forms of defence against these invaders. As the home of the king, these castles were very well fortified. They were made from stone so as to withstand enemy fire or even accidental household fires. They were built on high ground so that guards could see enemies approaching from a distance. Their walls were high and steep to discourage climbers. On top of these walls were walkways for patrolling guards. During an invasion, these guards would line up on the walkways to fire upon their approaching enemies. Most castles were also surrounded by moats, which are wide drains filled with water to make it difficult for enemies to reach the castle walls.
During times of peace, castles also played important economic and social roles for the commoners living nearby. Castles often formed the administrative centre for the nearby villages. Here, taxes would be collected and justice served. Castles also served as storage for grains and wine for use during times of need. Public festivals and celebrations were also held in castles.
Nowadays, many of these ancient castles have deteriorated and are no longer fit for residence. The British Royal Family no longer lives in a castle but instead lives in Buckingham Palace in London. Buckingham does not look like a traditional castle at all!
Nonetheless, castles still play a very important heritage role for the people of Great Britain. The British are very proud of their castles as a symbol of historical strength and grandeur. Many of these castles have now been turned into tourist attractions. Two of the most popular castles that are open for visitors in Great Britain are the Tower of London and Edinburgh Castle.
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