Remaking History

Blockworks and English Heritage team up to save real castles!

We’ve featured loads of great castle builds on this site. Here’s one. Ooh, here’s another. And another. Is that enough? Nope, here’s one more! Sorry, we just love your castle builds a lot. So many builders put tons of effort into making creative, detailed, and simply gorgeous fortresses. Here, have a BONUS CASTLE.

These brilliant Minecraft projects don’t have the same upkeep needs as real castles. Hooray! However, real castles all over Britain and other parts of the world do need regular upkeep – a task that’s sadly a lot harder than just switching to Creative Mode or turning the cheats on.

That’s where English Heritage comes in.

English Heritage is a charity dedicated to preserving over 400 monuments. They’re now working with the educational and community-focused Blockworks collective to get people interested in their work and all the real castles that they look after.

“Minecraft aligns well with our ambitions,” says Eric Winbolt, Head of Digital Innovation at English Heritage. “It has a large audience, castles are already a popular theme, and by bringing it into our properties we can blend the new and old, the real and the virtual.”

English Heritage and Blockworks have been working hard on a number of projects relating to some of England’s most famous buildings. At Dover and Kenilworth castles, visitors were invited to try recreating the monuments, complete with all their ancient walls, towers, and details, in Minecraft.

“It was an engaging way to playfully inform younger audiences about the heritage behind the fictional castles they already know,” Eric explains. “The workshops were hugely over-subscribed, with places fully booked up within minutes of the sites opening.

“Even if you were unable to attend, we had YouTuber AmyLee sat in her replica throne, snapping selfies and swapping tips on castle construction. And after that, you still have a real castle to explore!” But if you missed out on these exciting workshops, don’t worry; they’re looking into how they can do more in the future, as well as thinking about how they can integrate Minecraft into other experiences.

One way you can get involved right now is by building something yourself. English Heritage are currently running a competition to find the very best castle creator, and the winner will get to stay in one of the actual castles for three nights – so what are you waiting for? Click this line of green text to learn more!

You’ll have to do something really impressive to top Blockworks’ build though. The castle image that made you click on this article in the first place (unless you clicked on it because you really liked the title ‘REMAKING HISTORY’ – in which case, thanks!) is of Kenilworth Castle. It’s a terrific recreation, one designed to teach people about the amazing construction of this real life monument.

Blockworks’ managing director James Delaney explains: “We worked with the historians at English Heritage to recreate the castle exactly as it was in 1575, including all of the interiors and furnishings. We had to consult historical sources, plans, and illustrations to work out what would still have been there in 1575.

“The site underwent significant changes in the 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th centuries – so working out what was there in 1575 was like solving a huge ancient jigsaw puzzle!”

Soon, the recreation will be made available to all Minecraft Java users, so you can take a virtual tour of the property, but for now, take a peek at the videos made for English Heritage by YouTuber GeminiTay.

GeminiTay’s first video covers the castle’s excellent exterior!

GeminiTay points out some really neat details about the castle, like how it uses a red and orange colour scheme to imitate the sandstone construction of the real thing, and how it’s set high up on the hill for self-defence purposes.

There are also spots for outdoor activities, like the stables and hedge maze, but it’s the interiors where James and the Blockworks builders had to work really hard. “We had to map out the correct function and use of every single room so as to give it appropriate decoration and furnishing – this took even more time than creating the exterior structure of the castle,” he tells me.

GeminiTay’s second video covers the incredibly detailed interior!

That’s not very surprising, as there are so many rooms inside! Bedrooms, storage rooms full of chests, a huge basement, and a grand hall perfect for feasts and dances. For me, the best detail has to be the suits of armour that stand guard over the corridors, though I like the fireplaces too. These would have been indispensable in the real castles, since they didn’t have central heating back then. Did they even have fire in 1575? Probably not.

If it seems like it must have been hard work for the builders to think about all these little things, imagine what it would have been like to make the real thing all the way back in medieval times! Creative Mode, I’m never taking you for granted again.

“The build captured the imagination of everyone from young Minecrafters to young at heart English Heritage staffers,” Eric enthused. “It vividly offers a fresh lens with which to view this much loved property.”

If you’re thinking of making your own castle for the competition, GeminiTay also has plenty of tips to help you out, so be sure to check out her videos. And even if you’re not a builder, there’s inspirations of all kinds to be found at English Heritage sites, so have a look to see what’s nearby and plan a fun day out!

Will visiting real castles inspire you lot to build another 732,998,000 Minecraft castle builds for us to cover? We hope so!

Thanks to: Blockbuilders and AmyLee for facilitating the workshops, GeminiTay for her videos, and Blockworks as the project managers and builders of the Kenilworth castle model.

Written By
Jay Castello