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


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 🙂

37 thoughts on “Fraggle Report ~ Bamburgh Castle ~ Part 1

  1. I think you were better off missing the boat! Honestly, what a gorgeous castle and grounds. The history, oh my! Have you seen the television series ‘The Last Kingdom’ based on the Saxon Stories novels by Bernard Cornwell? Well, it’s great, and this castle could well have been used for location filming. Stunning.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. At the top of my blog you will see “Map of photography locations” if you click on it you’ll be taken to my interactive map of all the places I’ve photographed. There’s a little 4 corner square at top right of map which will take you to a bigger version.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Somewhere I have been a few times, and always enjoyed. I recall a long night with a tripod there, trying to get shots of the castle when it is illuminated Shame about the weather, but looking forward to more.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. looks like you made the best of drizzly day. how kool so see, castles fascinate me. and that you go to see a funeral procession for the older that old bones.. way kool Fraggy. awesome pics, felt like I was right there

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I can imagine the disappointment when you understood the ferry was cancelled. But Bamburgh Castle looks like a lovely place to hang out, even if it’s not Farne Islands. You sure did show some good spirit and turning bad into good. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That castle has been the main character for a long history… interesting that the known one was mostly about wars. Happy that the owners opened to the public and among them skilled photographers as yourself. ^_^

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Turning lemons onto lemonade! Beautiful setting. Love the view of the little village and that funeral procession is amazing! How interesting to go through the ceremony so many years later.

    Liked by 1 person

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