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castles in northumbria

The story of Northumbria’s turbulent past is best told by a visit to one of the many Castles that dominate the landscape in these parts. If you are enjoying a Northumberland Holiday why not take the time to learn how Norman life has shaped the county that lies before you now. Today we pick our three favourite castles and give you a taste of the history that awaits you.

Bamburgh Castle is perhaps the most famous castle along the Northumberland coastline and you are sure to see it featured on postcards in the area. The site, a volcanic outcrop, was first used to site a Castle in the 6th Century when it was the capital of the kingdom of Bernicia. The Norman castle was subject to a protracted siege by William II who eventually forced a surrender when Robert de Mowbray was captured and William threatened to tear out Robert’s eyes.

The castle was in a state of disrepair following the War of the Roses where it was breached by gunfire. The castle was then restored in the 19th Century.

Today’s visitor are greeted by one of the finest examples of a Norman Gatehouse in the country.

Alnwick Castle may be a little grander than your Northumberland Accommodation but it’s function is the same. Since 1309 it has been the family home of the Percy Family, Dukes of Northumberland, who developed the Castle over hundreds of years making it one of the most fortified in the Country. The Percy family were engaged in a long  battle against the Scots and so were forced to expand it’s defences to the point that we see today, as it looms over the market town of Alnwick.

More recently in the 18th & 19th Century the castle was renovated into the Italian Renaissance style we see today.

Belsay Castle is very different in character to the previous two but explores another interesting facet of the story of Britain in the Middle Ages. Consisting of only a 14th Century Tower House. It features 9 foot think walls and French style angle turrets. Belsay Castle was built solely to protect it’s owner from the warfare taking part in the region and was not a base for a fighting force. Here we really do see the truth to the phrase ‘An Englishman’s home is his castle’. In the 17th Century a house was attached to the castle to form a mansion. Although the house is dwarfed by the Castle so that it appears to be a mere Northumbria Cottage in comparison!

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