Bamburgh Castle

Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland

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Bamburgh Castle (6)
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Bamburgh Castle (8)
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~ History ~

651 - Penda, pagan king of Mercia attacks King Oswald's seat at Bamburgh. Only a change in wind direction prevents the palisades from being destroyed by fire.

700's -  Bamburgh is besieged by the boy king Osred.

1069 - Gospatrick, Earl of Northumberland submits to William I. After his submission William gives him the earldom of Walcher, Bishop of Durham.

1086 - Bamburgh is given to Robert de Mowbray.

1095 - De Mowbray rebels after being summoned by William II on a charge of plundering four Norwegian ships. The King besieges the castle but it is only surrendered after William threatens to gouge out Mowbray's eyes in front of the defenders after capturing him in a vain attempt to escape to Newcastle. He is then imprisoned for thirty years in Windsor Castle.

1100's - Henry I gives Bamburgh castle to Eustace Fitz-John. A record 35 shillings is paid by the baron to the master-mason to re-fortify in stone.

King Stephen confiscates the castle and hands it to Henry, Earl of Huntingdon, who begins the building of the keep.

1160's - Henry II completes the keep and retains it as a royal fortress.

1201 - King John visits the castle. Twenty years later the young Henry III also pays a visit to Bamburgh.

1261 - Edward I summons John Balliol, King of Scots, to meet him at Bamburgh.

1307 - Edward II grants Bamburgh to Isabel de Vesci, a descendant of Eustace Fitz-John.

1312 - A survey shows the castle to be in decay. Despite this a constable names Roger de Horsley is installed to terrorise the surrounding area.

1328 - Bamburgh withstands a three month siege by the Scots.

1330 - A second survey records the keep, towers and apartments as all roofless.

1333 - Edward III leaves his Queen Philippa at the repaired castle for the summer whilst he besieges Berwick. A Scottish force under Archibald Douglas makes an unsuccessful diversionary attack on Bamburgh castle.

1346 - After his defeat at Neville's Cross the Scottish King David II is brought to Bamburgh, two barber-surgeons are sent from York to cure him of an arrow wound. The following year David is moved to London.

1372 - An enquiry finds the constable, Richard de Pembridge, has allowed the well to be polluted with offal from slaughtered cattle and many furnishings had been stolen by the steward.

1380's - Richard II orders the castle to be repaired.

1461 - Although Bamburgh is surrendered to Edward IV after the battle of Towton, a Lancastrian force manages to gain possession. Henry VI's spouse Margaret of Anjou arrives at the castle but makes her escape with the aid of a French fleet after the Earl of Warwick arrives to besiege the castle. The garrison are soon reduced to eating their horses and, after a fortnight's siege, surrender on Christmas Eve on terms allowing the noble's to retain their lands. Sir Ralph Percy is allowed to remain in command of the castle but then allows Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou to return. Warwick returns but is not strong enough to make the castle submit, leaving the deposed Lancastrian king to rule the surrounding area for a further nine months.

1446 - Warwick defeats the Lancastrians at Hexham, and, after Henry escapes, Bamburgh is besieged. Edward IV is keen for the castle to be taken undamaged but Sir Ralph Grey refuses to surrender, having been told he would be executed whether he submits or not. Edward's large cannons pound the walls until Grey is injured by the collapse of a tower, and the castle finally taken. Grey is taken to Edward IV and is executed.

1538 - The ruinous castle is considered having "neither lodging for man or horse". For the next two hundred years various owners allow further decay.


16 miles north of Bamburgh


B1340 off A1


NE69 7DF

Bamburgh Castle's location, standing proud on a rocky volcanic crag on the rugged Northumberland coast, makes it one of the most spectacular of all the English castles. It is built high on a cliff, 150 feet above the North Sea. Its landward sides are protected by a forbidding display of strong walls.

There have been fortifications on the site for thousands of years. There was an Iron Age fort here, and the Romans, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings all left their marks.

A visit to Bamburgh Castle for anyone interested in castles and beautiful scenery and history is an absolute must. With its fabulous beach and rolling sand dunes, with views out toward Lindisfarne and Holy Island, this ancient site has everything you could want. The castle itself is intact with plenty to explore inside and outside, from deep dungeons to stunning hall full of historic paintings, armour and weapons. Look at for the fabulous painting of King Charles I.