Historically, building a castle could take many long years of hard labour and money – not to mention the tons of materials needed for construction. It was not an easy feat for even the most skilled builders who worked tirelessly to create some of England’s most loved castles.
Today English Heritage looks after 66 of these castles – more than any organisation in England – and this summer we’re celebrating them all. Some have their origins in Roman times, many were built in the years after 1066 to help the Normans impose their rule on the Saxons, and some were designed by Henry VIII to defend the coast from invasion.
The glory days of castles might be long gone, but our country’s proud tradition of fortress-building is alive and well on beaches and in sandpits up and down the country. Now’s your chance to put your castle-building skills to the test and get involved in our #LoveCastles summer season.
We’re holding sandcastle-building workshops at eight of our castles around the country on Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 July. Everyone’s welcome to join in, no matter their age or castle-building ability.
Discover the best sand to water mix, have a go at making a large castle with expert help and learn new skills to take your castles to the next level. The workshops will be held at Dover Castle in Kent, Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight, Pendennis Castle in Cornwall, Kenilworth Castle and Elizabethan Garden in Warwickshire, Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire, Framlingham Castle in Suffolk, Scarborough Castle in North Yorkshire, and Warkworth Castle and Hermitage in Northumberland.
Do you #LoveCastles too? Win with our sandcastle competition
Whether or not you can make it to a workshop, you can still enter our competition to become this summer’s sandcastle champion. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the beach in Margate or Magaluf or in your back garden with a sandpit, you just need to pop one of our #LoveCastle flags on top of your castle and share it with us to be in the running to win a stay in one of our historic holiday cottages. .
You can pick up a flag for a £1 donation to our Castle Appeal at one of our staffed sites across the country.
Before you get started, have a look at some top tips from the experts at Sand in Your Eye to help you build the perfect sandcastle.
What you’ll need:
- Ruler or spatula
- Firstly, make sure the sand is wet – you can’t add too much water! The best place to find wet sand is below the tide line, but you can also have a bucket of water nearby to help you get the texture right. It’s important to have moist sand so that your castle holds its shape.
- Make a big mound in the shape of a volcano with a flat top. If you have a bucket or castle mould, you can fill it with moist sand and carefully tip it upside down on the top. If you’d rather make the castle from scratch, create a rim on the top of your mound and pour a bucket of water in the middle. This will make it easier to work with.
- Use your hands to compact and sculpt your design until you’re happy with the shape.
- Clean up any loose sand by gently scraping a ruler or spatula to smooth the edges.
- Now for the rest of the defences. Outside of your main tower, push the sand together between your hands to form a wall around your castle.
- Build towers along the wall to defend your castle. You can start with a mud pie-like shape and sculpt it as you like. Shave the edges to neaten it with the ruler until you get the desired shape.
- For the battlements, put some very wet sand on the back of your spade. Pat this with your hand and add a little dry sand to help it harden. Cut out small cubes with a ruler and put these on the top of your castle.
- Now for the detail! Working from top to bottom (to prevent sand falling and ruining your creation), smooth the castle walls once more with a ruler or spatula. Use your spoon to cut shapes like arrow loops, doors and windows. Check out our website for inspiration from our real-life castles.
- Decorate your castle with shells, pebbles and other finds, then top off your creation with an English Heritage #LoveCastles flag.
Find a sandcastle workshop near you (Sat 21 – Sun 22 July)
The workshops are available on a first come, first served basis. Tickets cost £2, and all money raised will go towards the #LoveCastles appeal. Buckets and spades will be provided.
- Dover Castle, Kent
- Carisbrooke Castle, Isle of Wight
- Pendennis Castle, Cornwall
- Kenilworth Castle and Elizabethan Garden, Warwickshire
- Bolsover Castle, Derbyshire
- Framlingham Castle, Suffolk
- Scarborough Castle, North Yorkshire
- Warkworth Castle and Hermitage, Northumberland
Seek inspiration from our sand sculpture at Dover Castle
Visit Dover Castle from 13 July until mid-August to see our ‘ultimate sandcastle’ built by the experts from Sand in Your Eye.
The castle has been inspired by elements from some of the castles in our care. Made from 29 tonnes of sand, the castle stands more than 2m tall and about 5m square. It features outer walls, an inner bailey, a great tower, gatehouse and a ditch and bank.