Carisbrooke Castle has always been the most important stronghold on the Isle of Wight, thanks to its superb defensive position. It crowns a hilltop with commanding views, at the point where the river Medina cuts into east-west chalk ridge that forms the backbone of the island. Because of the island's location it has also been of great significance in the defence of the realm.
Charles I was held prisoner here during the Civil War, shortly before his execution. Since then it has remained a symbolic centre for the island, not least as the residence of its governor.