The Unfinished Castles & Their Fate

People have begun to build castles for a variety of reasons throughout history. Some saw them as the ideal present for their loved ones. Others anticipated spending their golden years in the comfort of a personal masonry wonder.

The construction of these six castles was halted for unknown reasons after its original owner died. Few were left to rot for centuries, and even fewer were reconstructed virtually from scratch. Without further ado, let us start on a time-traveling adventure to discover why these six castles were abandoned.

The Falkenstein Castle or Castrum Pfronten, Germany

The ruin of Castrum Pfronten. Its German name Burg Falkenstein translates to “Castle Falcon Stone” photo credit Dark Avenger CC BY-SA 3.0

The Falkenstein Castle, located in the Bavarian Alps near the southern German city of Pfronten, was erected on the limits of Count Meinhard II of Tyrol’s property between 1270 and 1280. The building’s location was historically viewed as a sign of hostility to the Duchy of Bavaria. The castle’s high altitude of 1,286 meters above sea level rendered it unusable during the winter. The location was much degraded until the 17th century.

The remains were bought in 1883 by King Ludwig II of Bavaria. The monarch was already well-known for ordering the magnificent Neuschwanstein Castle, which was intended to be both his retreat and a tribute to Richard Wagner. He also had an excellent vision for the Pfronten Castle, replacing the current construction with a lovely castle. He employed several architects, including Christian Jank, who had previously worked on the Neuschwanstein Castle. Jank finally designed the Pfronten castle in a fairly High Gothic style.

Jank’s plan for the castle

The project included many prominent architects. Max Schultze, a well-known architect associated with the Prince Thurn und Taxis, came up with some rather original remodeling options on his own. He envisioned the castle in robber baron style, with secular Byzantine interior design and paintings. Ludwig’s bedroom was intended to resemble a large church. Road and water lines were delivered to the site in 1884, and a papier-mâché model of Schultze’s proposal was also made.

Schultze, on the other hand, left the project in 1885, a year before the monarch died. At the time, it was evident that this project would never be completed. The castle’s construction did not begin effectively, and once Ludwig died, the project was completely abandoned. Since then, only the remains of Castrum Pfronten have remained on the site.

Boldt Castle, United States

Alexandria, USA – August 20, 2016: Boldt Castle is a major landmark and tourist attraction in the Thousand Islands region of the U.S. state of New York. It is located on Heart Island in the Saint Lawrence River. Heart Island is part of the Town of Alexandria, in Jefferson County.

The Boldt Castle, located on Heart Island in the Saint Lawrence River, is now a notable landmark and tourist destination in the Thousand Islands area of New York. The location was formerly a private residence, and building was begun by American businessman George Boldt.

George was born in Prussia and served as the general manager of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York and the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia. Boldt and his family spent numerous summers on Heart Island, where they lived in a frame cabin. He made the decision to dramatically extend the site at one time.

Boldt began an ambitious project in 1900 to create a vast house that would be one of the largest private mansions in the United States. He engaged prominent architects and hundreds of employees to construct a six-story “castle” as a gift for his wife. The island’s subsequent projects included four more magnificent structures and a neighboring boat house.

The Boldt Castle’s development was unexpectedly halted in 1904 owing to the death of Boldt’s wife. He left the estate after the sad tragedy and never returned. The castle and the surrounding structures were abandoned for 73 years until being purchased by the Thousand Island Bridge Authority in 1977 for one dollar. When the building was halted decades ago, the new owners vowed to restore the island to its former glory. With fresh modern interventions in the design, the original purpose was accomplished and even exceeded.

The majority of the rooms on the castle’s first and second floors are now modernly furnished. The basement, while not finished, contains a pool, bowling, a long to the hallway to the Power House, and other rooms. Some chambers in the castle have been kept empty in order enable tourists to picture how the castle appeared before the current upgrades.

Morgraig Castle, Wales

The Morgan Castle, located in the county of Caerphilly and quite near to the boundary with Cardiff, was found in 1895 by a group of archaeologists from the Cardiff Museum.

The company was commanded by John Ward, who had heard rumors about an ancient British fort.

Ruins of Castell Morgraig, Caerphilly, Wales  photo credit John Lord CC BY-SA 2.0

He was curious about the location because he had seen maps that showed a weird rectangular form. Excavations began in 1903, and the ruins were discovered two years later. The scientists estimated that the castle was begun in the 13th century, but the lack of roofing materials showed that it was never finished or occupied.

The fortress would have stood on the boundary between the Welsh Lordship of Senghyndd and the English Lordship of Glamorgan in the 13th century. The design of the tower walls and the presence of support columns hinted at a spiral staircase rising from the first level, which was unusual for a Welsh castle site. The carved stones used for gateways and windows showed that this was an English castle.

A 2009 research undertaken by Brain Davies of the Gelligaer Historical Society, on the other hand, suggests that the castle’s keep and simple entry are both characteristics of a Welsh castle. His study also indicates that the castle was once burned down, following which fresh works on the site began.

The fortress was most likely abandoned after 1271, as it had little strategic relevance among connected lords who had emerged from a civil war between 1264 and 1267. Since its discovery, it has been a source of contention as to who precisely built and held this property. Regardless, the remains of Morgraig Castle are now recognized and conserved as a nationally significant historic monument.

Barnes Castle, Scotland

Barnes Castle, East Lothian, Scotland  photo credit Calum McRoberts CC BY-SA 2.0

The scattered ruins of the Barnes Castle may be seen on the slope of the Garleton Hills, just a few kilometers from Haddington and near to Athelstanefored in East Lothian, Scotland. The Barney Vaults are another name for this location.

During the 16th century, Sir John Seton of Barnes was a prominent Scottish diplomat, courtier, and judge. He came to Spain at an early age and worked at the court of Phillip II of Spain, who appointed him Knight of the Military Order of Santiago and head of the household. When he returned home, he was appointed as the manager of James VI of Scotland’s stable and also served as an envoy. In 1588, he also chose the title Lord Barns, an exceptional lord of session in Scotland’s Court of Session.

Barnes finally began construction on his castle, beginning with the entry gate in the southwest well. The structure was remarkably contemporary and symmetrical for its period, but following his death in 1594, the site remained abandoned.

Kellie’s Castle, Malaysia

Kellie’s Castle was built in 1915 at Batu Gajah, Kinta District, Perak, Malaysia.

The incomplete palace was started by William Kellie Smith, a Scottish landowner who came to Malaysia (then Malaya) in 1900 to work as a civil engineer.

Kellie’s Castle, located near Batu Gajah, in Perak, Malaysia photo credit Kulshrax CC BY 3.0

William’s circumstances improved in a matter of years, and he chose to stay in the Asian country. In 1903, he was joined by his love, Agnes, a Scottish woman, and the pair started a family. By 1909, Smith had completed his first home, known as the “Kellas House,” which was so unusual that it made headlines. The couple already had an 11-year-old daughter when they had a boy in 1915. It was during this time that William began designing a massive castle combining Scottish, Moorish, and Tamilvanan Indian architecture, mostly as a present for his wife or a home for his newborn son.

Smith brought in 70 Tamilvanan craftsmen and imported marble and bricks from India to complete the project, which was massive. The concept was for a 6-story tower, as well as Malay’s first elevator, a tennis court, and a rooftop entertainment plaza. Spanish Flu attacked the workers during the castle’s construction, and they contacted him at one point to seek the construction of a nearby temple. Smith was gracious and agreed to their request. In exchange, the laborers constructed a statue of him with the other deities on the temple wall. According to legend, a tunnel was created to connect the temple to the castle.

Unfortunately, William Kellie Smith died of pneumonia during a brief visit to Portugal in 1926. His bereaved wife chose to return to Scotland. Construction of the castle, which had not yet been completed, came to a halt. The estate was soon sold to a British corporation. Today, Kellie’s Castle is a popular tourist attraction, with some claiming it is haunted.

Drochil Castle, Scotland

Traveling back in time to Scotland, we can see the Drochil Castle, which belonged to James Douglas 4th Earl of Morton. He was the last of the four Regents of Scotland during Monarch James VI’s minority and began construction on his castle only three years before he was killed by the king. The castle remained unfinished until his death.

When the Earl retired, he planned to live at the castle. The property, which consists of four floors and a garret, is of particular importance due to its “double-tenement” architecture. It features a large central corridor that runs from end to end on each floor. Apartment buildings open on both sides of the corridors, and a large hall on the first floor is 15.2 by 6.7 meters in size.

The ruins of Drochil Castle, located south of West Linton, Scotland  photo credit Paul Hermans 
CC BY-SA 3.0

The castle towers feature gun loops strategically placed to prevent adversaries from entering the castle’s defenses. The outside walls are made of Whetstone rubble and are clad in red sandstone.

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