The castle today is a popular tourist attraction and attracts tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world.
Legend has it that the first fortifications of significance at Warwick castle were erected by Ethelfleda, daughter of king Alfred the Great in the year 914. And these almost certailly replaced even older wooden fortifications, which had proven innefective against marauding Danes who had sacked the town in the reign of her father. They were part of a network of fortifications built to protect the Kingdom of Mercia.
The remains of these ancient fortifications can still be seen on top of a large mound at the southern end of the castle's courtyard which is known as Ethelfleda's mound. Although most of these remains date from the Norman period.
After the Norman conquest of England in the 11th century William the Conquerer appointed Henry de Newburgh as earl of Warwick, and he proceeded to enlarge the mound and created a Norman motte-and bailey[?] castle.
In the year 1264 the castle was sacked by the forces of Simon de Montford and he imprisoned the then Earl and his countess at Kenilworth (They were supporters of the king against the barons) until a ransom was paid. After the death of this earl the title and the castle was passed to the Beauchamp family, who over the next 180 years were largely responsible for most of the fortifications that can be seen today.