Fraggle Report ~ Bamburgh Castle ~ Part 1

Well we’re cracking on through 2016, May done and onto June. Back in June 2015 Sophie and I had our first trip to the Farne Islands to see the puffins, and of course we wanted to do that again in 2016, so booked a trip for our weekend outing. Unfortunately when we got there the weather was so awful that the boat trips were cancelled. A bit disappointing after a 1&1/2hr drive, but Bamburgh Castle is only a mile up the road so a quick change of plan and off we went.

THE HISTORY BIT, mostly from wiki with added extras

There is archaeological evidence of people living in this are from 10,000BC, along with Bronze Age (2,400 -700BC) burials nearby and bits of pottery dating to the Iron Age (700 BC – 43AD). Built on a dolerite outcrop, the location was previously home to a fort of the native Britons known as Din Guarie and may have been the capital of the British kingdom of the region from the realm’s foundation in c.420 until 547, the year of the first written reference to the castle. In that year the citadel was captured by the Anglo-Saxon ruler Ida of Bernicia (Beornice) and became Ida’s seat. It was briefly retaken by the Britons from his son Hussa during the war of 590 before being relieved later the same year.

His grandson Æðelfriþ (I mean, who thought up these names!!??) passed it on to his wife Bebba, from whom the early name Bebbanburgh was derived. The Vikings destroyed the original fortification in 993.

The Normans built a new castle on the site, which forms the core of the present one. William II (a badass old bugger) unsuccessfully besieged it in 1095 during a revolt supported by its owner, Robert de Mowbray, Earl of Northumbria. After Robert was captured, his wife (a bit of a girl by all accounts),continued the defence until coerced to surrender by the king’s threat to blind her husband.

Bamburgh then became the property of the reigning English monarch. Henry II probably built the keep. (The Castles own website says the keep is Norman) As an important English outpost, the castle was the target of occasional raids from the pesky Scots. During the civil wars at the end of King John’s reign, it was under the control of Philip of Oldcoates. In 1464 during the Wars of the Roses, it became the first castle in England to be defeated by artillery, at the end of a nine-month siege by Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick.

The Forster family of Northumberland provided the Crown with twelve successive governors of the castle for some 400 years until the Crown granted ownership to Sir John Forster. The family retained ownership until Sir William Forster (d. 1700) was posthumously declared bankrupt, and his estates, including the castle, were sold to Lord Crew, Bishop of Durham (husband of his sister Dorothy) under an Act of Parliament to settle the debts.

The castle deteriorated but was restored by various owners during the 18th and 19th centuries. It was finally bought by the Victorian industrialist William Armstrong, who completed the restoration.

The castle still belongs to the Armstrong family, and is opened to the public. It also hosts weddings and corporate events. It has been used as a film location since the 1920s, featuring in films such as Ivanhoe (1982), El Cid (1961), Mary, Queen of Scots (1971), Elizabeth (1998) and both the 1971 and 2015 adaptions of Macbeth.

Rear Aspect

The grounds

View over to the Farne Islands

Ready to repel borders

The Castle Front

The Norman keep

Entrance

There are still archaeological digs going on around there, and as they have found bones from the Bronze Age we were there on the day that they were being re buried, they had a proper funeral for them.

View over Bamburgh village, standing on the ramparts,

Where we should have been!

More to come so stay tuned 🙂

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