UK Travel Guide


Bamburgh Castle

Description: Bamburgh Castle is probably the finest castle in England. It is perched on a basalt outcrop on the very edge of the North Sea at Bamburgh, Northumberland. It commands stunning views of the Farne Islands, Holy Island and landward to the Cheviot hills. There have been settlements on this site since the Iron Age but there are few records until Norman times. The Anglo-Saxon earls took a major part in the northern rebellions against William the Conqueror and so subsequently lost their grip on power in the region, being replaced by Normans. The history of the earldom in Norman hands was somewhat short because in 1095 Earl Robert de Mowbray joined a conspiracy against King William Rufus as a result of which he was deposed and imprisoned following his capture during a siege at Bamburgh. The earldom was suppressed and the county of Northumberland administered by the sheriff. The earldom was revived for a short time in the 12th century and given to Henry the son of David I of Scotland, at a time when Northumberland lay within the orbit of the Kingdom of the Scots. Bamburgh remained a royal castle, the administrative centre for the sheriff in the north of Northumberland. When Henry Percy was made Earl of Northumberland by Edward III (ruled 1327-77) the relationship between the earldom and Bamburgh had been severed and the new political centre lay at the Percy castle at Alnwick. The immense strength of the castle prevented it from ever falling into obscurity and it appears again and again as a place of defence, refuge and at times of imprisonment. The castle was badly damaged by gunfire during a siege in 1464 and left in a ruinous state. After the union of the crowns, having lost its military role, the castle was sold into private hands. Dr John Sharp began the restoration process in the 18th century. At the end of the 19th century Lord Armstrong purchased the castle and rebuilt the living quarter of the castle on a lavish scale. Today as it has always done, the castle rock and the structures on it have an impressive brooding presence over the surrounding landscape, perhaps the most recognizable structure in the Northumbrian landscape.
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Notes: The castle is open to the public 11am to 5pm (last entry 4:30pm) from April to October. The castle museum contains many objects of great interest including gold strapends excavated from the West Ward. One object of particular rarity is a fragment of an Anglo-Saxon stone throne.