Prudhoe Castle, Northumberland
Prudhoe Castle began as a Norman motte castle in the late eleventh century situated on a natural rocky spur high on the south bank of the Tyne. It was well defended by a deep ravine on the south and east sides, with ditches to the south and west. When the keep was raised in the late twelfth century it was one of the first great towers to be built in Northumberland. The timber outer defences were soon replaced with strong stone walls and gatehouse.
During the thirteenth century a moat and drawbridge with two barbicans were added to further strengthen this already impressive fortress. In the late fourteenth century the castle passed to the influential Percy family, who were at this time still very much rivals of the other great family in the north, the Nevilles. Being so close to the Scottish border meant Prudhoe played an active role in both the fortunes of England and Scotland.
On firt impressions this is a really impressive castle, and walking round the outside of the castle walls it is every inch impressive. However, we found that exploring the inside of the castle it felt very small with little of interest to see, which felt somewhat disappointing.
Access to this castle is easy from the car park provided and it is well sign-posted.
~ History ~
1066 - Robert d'Amfreville, kinsman of William the Conqueror, is victorious at the Battle of Hastings.
1100's - King Henry I grants the manor of Prudhoe to Robert's son, also named Robert, who builds a timber motte castle.
1145 - The death of Robert at the age of 75 sees his son Odinell become Baron of Prudhoe. Odinell having been brought up in the home of Earl Henry, father of the Scottish King, William the Lion.
1153 - Odinell witnesses his second Scottish charter, having land in both Scotland and England.
1160's - Odinel begins the rebuilding of Prudhoe in stone, including the great Keep.
1173 - The Scots army of William invades England and besieges the near completed Prudhoe. Odinell's son and heir receives a grant of £20 out of the rental of the mines of Carlisle to retain Knights at Prudhoe on the account of the Scottish raids.
1174 - William returns and takes Harbottle Castle and again unsuccessfully lays siege to Prudhoe.
1215 - Richard De Umfreville joins the Barons rebellion against King John who is forced to sign Magna Carta at Runymead.
1328 - The De Umfrevilles Scottish Earldom of Angus is confiscated by Robert Bruce.
1381 - The male line of the De Umfrevilles comes to an end when Gilbert III dies childless. His widow remarries Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland. On her death seventeen years later the castle passes to the Percy family.
1384 - Nearbv Ford Castle is taken by the Scots. Durham and Cumberland are raided.
1388 - The Scots return under William Douglas, attacking nearby Newcastle Castle. English forces under Harry 'Hotspur' Percy remain safe behind the walls of the castle. Two weeks later as the Scots return to Scotland, Harry Hotspur heads north from Newcastle to attack them.
Hot-headed Hotsput does not wait for the Bishop of Durham's troops to join him. In the darkness, his troops attack Scottish servants by mistake, who in-turn fight back, alerting the main army of the Scots. Hotspur loses 1,000 troops in the battle compared 200 Scots. Hotspur's men flee but Douglas is killed despite the victory. Hotspur and his brother Ralph Percy are taken prisoner by the Scots but are later released on ransom.
1399 - King Richard II, criticised for 'favouritism', is imprisoned by Parliament and is later moved to Pontefract Castle where he is starved to death. King Henry IV, son of John of Gaunt takes the throne with the support of Henry Percy. Together they raid Scotland.
1402 - Scots under Earl Archibold Douglas attack Newcastle. They are defeated in the Battle of Humbleton Hill by Earl Percy. The Percy's fall into disagreement with the English King over Scottish prisoners taken in the battle and rebel.
1403 - Harry Hotspur Percy is killed in battle at Shrewsbury fighting against Henry IV. Hotspur had raised a rebellion in Cheshire but the King intercepts him before he can join forces with his father, the Earl of Northumberland. King Henry orders that Hotspur's head be sent to his widow. Three weeks later Hotspur's father, Henry Percy, submits to the King at York.
1405 - Earl Henry Percy joins a rebellion against the King organised by Richard Scrope, Archbisop of York. Scrope is captured at York and Percy is forced to take refuge in Scotland after the rebellion is defeated and Prudhoe, together with other Percy castles, are captured.
1408 - Percy is killed at Bramham Moor fighting Kenry IV. His limbs are placed on the Tyne Bridge as a warning to rebels.
1417 - Henry V appoints the Percy's as Wardens of the East and Middle Marches with responsibility for maintaining control of the Northumberland section of the Scottish border.
1436 - Scots under William Douglas, Earl of Angus, defeat the English under Henry Percy in a minor skirmish.
1455 - Henry's son, another Henry, is killed in battle at St Alban's fighting for the Lancastrian cause.
1461 - Yorkists are victorious in a heavy snowstorm at the Battle of Towton. Edward of York is crowned King Edward IV. Lancastrian supporter Earl Henry Percy is among those killed.
1460's - After a long siege, the Lancastrian Margaret of Anjou, queen of the deposed King Henry IV, captures Bamburgh and Alnwick Castle with the support of the French and Scots. The Yorkists led by Richard Neville besiege the Lancastrians in Alnwick Castle until they eventually retreat despite their Scottish reinforcements.
The first Battle of Hexham takes place between Yorkists under John Neville and the Lancastrian supporters of Margaret.
Ralph Percy switches allegiance to the Lancastrians who are defeated and flee to Scotland. The Yorkist John Neville is attacked by Lancastrians who include Ralph Percy and Sir Ralph Grey. Neville is victorious.
The Lancastrian held castles of Bamburgh, Dunstanburgh and Alnwick surrender to King Edward VI. King James III of Scotland retreats after the arrival of John Neville and Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick.
King James had invaded England to support the Lancastrians.
Exiled King Henry IV is captured at Clitheroe by the Yorkists.
Richard Neville falls out with King Edward IV over foreign policy and switches to the Lancastrian side. The king dismisses Richard’s brother George Neville as Archbishop of York. King Edward is imprisoned at Middleham Castle by Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick.
Richard Neville allows Edward to escape.
1470's - Richard 'the Kingmaker' Neville is killed. The former King Henry VI is killed during imprisonment in the Tower of London.
Prudhoe is restored to the Percy's.
1537 - Sir Thomas Percy is hanged at Tyburn.
1557 - Prudhoe is restored to the the Percy's.
1605 - The Percy's and Prudhoe castle are involved in the gunpowder plot.
The castle gradually falls into ruin following the Union with Scotland.