Dogeared Lit

Kieron Connolly’s Latest Book is ‘Abandoned Castles’

Spis Castle, Kosice, Slovakia (Photo: Wikipedia)
Written by JoAnn Chateau

“Abandoned Castles” by Kieron-Connolly

Castles are defensive fortifications. In their day, they were considered high-tech. Look at them now. Kieron Connolly‘s latest book is Abandoned Castles.

In the end, isn’t war futile?

“An ancient hilltop fortress. A crusader citadel in the West Bank. A fairytale medieval castle fallen into ruin. From ancient times to the end of the nineteenth century, Abandoned Castles explores more than 100 forts, castles and defensive strongholds from all around the globe. From medieval Japanese castles to Spanish colonial forts in West Africa to Norman stone keeps, the book ranges widely across history. Many have long ceased to serve a purpose, but then, like the crusader castle Krak de Chevaliers in Syria today, their impenetrable walls become the site of more fighting centuries later. Others, such as the Cathar Château de Queribus in southern France, stand high above peaceful coastlines, testament to the wars of the past. Some are beautiful, others brutal, but each tells a story about the way we fought and defended ourselves, and how the building has survived and aged, long after the people it was built by are gone. With 150 outstanding color photographs, Abandoned Castles is a brilliant pictorial examination of castles, forts, keeps, and defensive fortifications from the ancient world to the end of the nineteenth century. ~ Amazon Books

Find some of the featured castles from the book below. (Photographs in the book are more spectacular!)

“The best laid schemes of Mice and Men
oft go awry…”

~ Robert Burns, 1785

Castles are History


About the author

JoAnn Chateau

JoAnn Chateau likes progressive politics and loves the canines. She sometimes writes fiction about Chester (the Alpha Bichon) and his friends -- with a dash of humor and dab of Poli-Sci. JoAnn's views and insights are tinted by her past profession in Counseling, Christian theological studies, and Library and Information Science training. Retired now, JoAnn enjoys the creative life.


  • The aesthetic imagery of castles is obvious. Their angularity and massiveness project strength, an ego-feeding defiance of gravity, and security. People are naturally and understandably fascinated by castles, and that’s why they remain popular tourist attractions.

    But, from a purely military perspective, the effectiveness of castles and forts is also just imagery. During WWII, American general George S. Patton Jr. reportedly said: “Fixed fortifications are monuments to man’s stupidity.”

    Castles were intended to protect civilian areas (i.e. towns) from invasion. In Medieval times, they were built on defensible terrain with the commoners living and working around it. If attacked, the townspeople would take refuge behind the castle’s thick walls and soldiers would protect it with weaponry. However, siege warfare was developed soon after the advent of castles which could either starve out its inhabitants through encirclement or overtop its walls using mobile towers and other mechanical devices. Later, the arrival of more powerful artillery (i.e. cannons, gunpowder) made even the thick rocks walls of castles vulnerable.

    Forts, on the other hand, were intended to protect military assets (i.e. bases, personnel, harbors, industry, and other tactical or strategic assets); and, they were generally more effective than castles. Forts were also built in a wide range of shapes and sizes, specifically structured for the task at hand. However, they too proved vulnerable to evolving counter-techniques and technologies as correctly observed by Gen. Patton. Perhaps the greatest fixed fortification in history was the Maginot Line, a state-of-the-art defense system which was simply and embarrassingly – for France – outflanked by Germany in 1940.

    I think the lesson here is that we crave security intensely because the world has always been such a dangerous place. But, security – in the form of impregnable fortifications – is only an illusion.

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