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The unexpected sight of a stark ruin, perhaps a once formidable fortress clinging to a high summit or a crenellated residence with fading remnants of former affluence, always evokes a mix of strong emotions. It might generate a thirst for a deeper understanding of its history and why it was allowed to decay, and of the bloody battles that may have been fought for control over its strategic location. We may wonder what historically significant events may have taken place within, which powerful Kings and knights bestrode its battlemented walls, or what mysteries lie hidden beneath the rubble. Do we stand in awe of the absolute power over life and death once held by kings and noblemen, or are we fascinated by our occasionally chivalrous, but more often bloody, past? Are we ourselves pacing the broken battlements fully armed and unflinching to repel imagined raiders? Those of us with more romantic notions may associate the ragged stone structures rising on isolated islands with gallant knights, damsels in distress and broken hearts. Whatever we may see in the many ruins that have defiantly overseen our green and pleasant land for nearly one thousand years, it is certain that each of us will take something of personal interest from a visit. If nothing else, it has to be an appreciation of the skills of the medieval master builders and sheer amazement that so much of their work has survived at all. &nbsp,While I have focused intensively on the text, both in evaluating the remains and providing brief histories, my good friend and collaborator, Graham Hobster, has applied his considerable photographic and layout skills to create what we modestly consider a major work on this extensive subject and one that has been designed to encourage the reader to learn about these numerous ancient survivals. These range from the great castles of the Tower of London, Alnwick, Bamburgh, Dover, Warkworth, Warwick, Windsor, Caernarfon, Caerphilly, Conwy, Harlech and Pembroke
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