Castles of North Northumberland

Bamburgh

bamburgh-castle.jpgBamburgh Castle is one of the most important in Northumberland. Once thought to be the capital of the British kingdom of this area and first mentioned in writing in 420AD, the original structure was destroyed in 993 by the Vikings and then rebuilt on the same site by the Normans which forms the core of the castle today. Although it was left to deteriorate over subsequent centuries and attempts made to restore parts of the structure, it wasn't until it was purchased by William Armstrong the Victorian industrialist that it was restored to its current state. Bamburgh Castle is open to the public and is one of North Northumberlands major attractions with stunning views of the Northumberland coast from the walls, tours of the various rooms inside the castle and a small war museum with a history of Lord Armstrongs progression from industrialist to design and manufacture of ordinance used in both world wars. His country house of Cragside is also a major attraction for this area. Bamburgh is an excellent example of a castle through the ages and a must for everyone visiting this area. Website

Alnwick

alnwick-castle.jpgFirst constructed in 1096 Alnwick Castle has had a suitably turbulent history and was even ordered to be demolished by King John in 2012. The Percy family, after gaining notoriety from military accomplishments bought the Barony of Alnwick and has owned both the castle and title of Dukes of Northumberland ever since. Alnwick Castle is a must when visiting Northumberland and has something for everyone. The history is abundant and the size of the structure and area covered is considerable. This allows the castle to house many attractions such as a museum for the North Northumberland Fusiliers and an exhibition of the Dukes interests in archaeology. The state rooms are magnificent and just walking around the grounds gives an impression of how it must have been to live there. There are of course attractions for all the family, some of which revolves around the castle featuring in the early Harry Potter films as many of the exterior shots were done there. Also the Alwick Gardens, the construction of which has been overseen by the Duchess herself are not to be missed. The cascade in the centre is a truly stunning sight. Alnwick Castle Website Alnwick Garden Website

Warkworth Castle

warkworth-castle.jpgFirst documented in 1157, Warkworth Castle is another excellent example of a castle built in Northumberland to defend against Scotland and although originally considered feeble (as it was made of wood) it was improved over the years to the imposing structure seen today. Once again owned by the Percy family, they refurbished the castle and restored the keep in the 19th century and have since passed stewardship to English Heritage who now care for the site. Warkworth Castle is now one of Northumberlands Scheduled Ancient Monuments. Website

Lindisfarne Castle

lindisfarne-castle.jpgSituated on the beautiful island of Lindesfarne, the castle sits atop a base of solid whinstone rock making it a small but striking sight. Because of its location it was very vulnerable to attack from the sea including the Vikings and the Scots and was strengthened using the stone from the original Lindesfarne Priory which had become disused. In 1901 it was refurbished including the walled garden which was designed by Gertrude Jekyell. Lindesfarne Castle is well worth a visit when on the island and provides a beautiful view from the upper battery towards Bamburgh and across the island. Website

Dunstanburgh Castle

dunstanburgh-castle.jpgBuilt in the 14th century on the site of an Iron Age fort, Dunstanburgh took advantage of a natural defensive position on the Northumberland coast. It was the largest castle built in Northumberland covering an area of almost 10 acres. During The War of the Roses, it was a strategic northern stronghold and changed hands between Yorkists and Lancastrians numerous times and as the Scottish border became more stable, its importance diminished and the damage from the various sieges was never repaired. Hence the condition of the structure today. It is a very popular destination for visitors to the small harbour village of Craster and is a 1.25 mile walk along the coast. Dunstanburgh is now owned by the National Trust and run by English Heritage and is on a Site of Special Scientific Interest for birds and amphibians. Website

Chillingham

chillingham-castle.jpgOriginally a monastery, Chillingham then became a strategic location in the conflict between England and Scotland serving as a staging point for English soldiers heading north but was also repeatedly attacked by the Scots. Over the centuries the castles military significance declined and it was gradually transformed into its current state. Now owned by Sir Humphrey Wakefield, the castle has been painstakingly restored and sections are now open to the public. There is also the added attraction of The Chillingham Cattle which is a small herd of extremely rare breed cattle.



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