Another delve into the archives, and this time I’m revamping a post that no-one who follows this blog has seen before, except Francis. Another outing with Sophie and the erstwhile Mike.
The castle is a ruined medieval English castle situated on the south bank of the River Tyne at Prudhoe, Northumberland, England. It is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and a Grade I listed building. That’s its credentials so let’s get on with
The History Bit ☕️ 🍪
The castle started life as a Norman motte and bailey built somewhere about the middle of the 11th Century.
Small digression ~ Back in the medieval Duchy of Normandy, Pesky French, Pesky Gallic-Romans and Pesky Norse Vikings got all jiggy together and intermingley which resulted in an ethnic and cultural “Pesky Norman” identity in the first half of the 10th century, an identity which continued to evolve over the centuries.
The Norman Conquest, led by the Duke of Normandy who then became William the Conqueror (a man far beyond pesky) happened, and after all that malarkey the wonderfully named Umfraville family took control of the Castle. Robert d’Umfraville was formally granted the barony of Prudhoe by Henry I, but had probably been granted Prudhoe in the closing years of the 11th century. The Umfravilles (probably Bob) initially replaced the wooden palisade with a massive rampart of clay and stones and subsequently constructed a stone curtain wall and gatehouse.
Now Bob, whilst holding the lordships of Prudhoe and Redesdale for King Henry I, also acquired interests in Scotland. He seems to have been pals with King David I and his son Henry, and was granted lands in Stirlingshire. Bob died around 1145 and his son Odinel I succeeded him, also being active in Scotland and being all pally with King David and his grandson who went on to be King Malcolm IV.
We’ll skip a couple of unimportant Umfs and move along to 1173 which is when William the Lion of Scotland, (a Pesky lion at that) invaded the North East to claim the earldom of Northumbria. Sigh. By this time Odinell II is head honcho of the Umfs.
I feel we should digress here, and have a quick look at William the Lion, who was actually a bloke. Willy became King of Scotland in December 1165 aged 25 and reigned for 48 years until 1214, the second longest reign in Scottish history. On the whole it seems he was a conscientious and good King, but, and this is a big but, he was stupidly obsessed with Northumbria. And he was an argumentative sort of chap to boot. We have to turn the clock back a bit here, to 1113 when King Henry I gave a defunct Earldom, that of Northumbria, to David I, Willy’s grandfather. More on that shortly. Ish. Willy spent time at King Henry II’s court, but quarrelled with him and in 1168 arranged a treaty of Scottish alliance with France, the first ever between the Main Peskies. In 1173/4 a revolt against Henry kicked off with Henry’s three sons and their mother against him with short lived assistance from Le Pesky Louis VII. That went on for 18 months, to no avail, but our Willy was a key player in the revolt. At the Battle of Alnwick the daft bugger recklessly charged the English troops by himself, shouting, “Now we shall see which of us are good knights!” As you do. Anyway at that point Ranulf de Glanvill and his troops unhorsed and captured him, took him in chains to Newcastle, then Northampton, and then to Falais in Normandy. Henry then sent an army into Scotland and occupied it. As ransom and to regain his kingdom, Willy had to acknowledge Henry as his feudal superior and agree to pay for the cost of the English army’s occupation of Scotland by taxing the Scots. The cost was equal to 40,000 Scottish marks (£26,000). I can’t find out how much that is in todays money, but it’s quite a sum as it is! The church of Scotland was also subjected to that of England. William acknowledged this by signing the Treaty of Falaise, and was then allowed to return to Scotland. In 1175 he swore fealty to Henry II at York Castle. If only he’d just stayed in the line…🤷♀️
Back to Prudhoe and back to 1173, I presume prior to joining or during the revolt, Willy decided to invade Northumberland and reclaim the Earldom. He was a busy chap. Odinell II refused to support him and so Willy and his Scottish Army attacked Prudhoe Castle, but failed to take it as they were not prepared for a lengthy siege. The following year he tried again, but Ody was a canny chap and had strengthened his garrison. The Pesky Scots tried a siege, but gave up after 3 days, and Ody further improved the defences of the castle by adding a stone keep and a great hall. I mean, what was Willy thinking? I can vouch for Northumbrians not wanting to be Scottish, they don’t even want to be English! They have their own flag and everything! Ody died in 1182 and was succeeded by his son Richard. By this time King John the lecherous was in charge of everything and he wasn’t well liked. Dicky came under suspicion of treachery, and in 1212 had to hand over to the king his sons and his castle of Prudhoe.The Baronial revolt kicked off in 1215-17,and in 1216 our Dicky joined the rebels fighting John and so then his lands were forfeit as well. They remained forfeited until 1217, the year after King John’s death. He later made peace with the government of King Henry III and died in 1226. He was succeeded by his son Gilbert II,and he in turn was succeded by his son Gilbert III in 1245. Gill 3 inherited the title of Earl of Angus with vast estates in Scotland, but he continued to spend some of his time at Prudhoe. It is believed that he carried out further improvements to the castle.
We are back to the Scottish Wars of Independence now, which we left behind in Lanercost Castle a couple of weeks ago, and though Gill 3 was Earl of Angus, he actually fought on the English side in the first war until his death in 1308. His heir and second son Robert de Umfraville IV came next and he also sided with the English but ended up surrendering to the pesky King Bobby the Bruce during the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. King Bobby did release Bob 4th who then treated with the Scots for peace with England. He was ultimately disinherited of his titles, no surprises there! In 1316 King Edward granted Bob 4th 700 marks to maintain a garrison of 40 men-at-arms and 80 light horsemen at Prudhoe. In 1325, Bob 4th died and his son another bliddy Gilbert IV took over the Barony, and was the last of the Umfravilles to do so. He’d married twice and had a son guess what they called him? hint- begins with R ends in T and has OBER in the middle. 🙄 Anyway, that Bob died, Gill didn’t have any more kids, and when he died in 1381 his 2nd wife remarried into the mighty Percy family, to Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland, (will definitely be digressing him!)and when she died in 1398 Prudhoe Castle went to him. So we will say goodbye to the Umfravilles, whose dynasty continued, but without our castle.
Oh My Days! how bliddy confusing all the Gilberts and Roberts and Odinells I had to make sense of. More Umfravilles than you can shake an Englebert at! What a nightmare. Any hoo, I’m going to leave you hanging in 1398 now, until next week, because there’s still a few hundred years until we get to the end, and you’ll need another cup of tea and more biscuits for that! Bet you can’t wait!! 😃
On with the pictures!!
The view from the road as you walk up to the castle.
Built in 1150, the Gatehouse also incorporated the chapel.
The Outer Bailey where lower service buildings and the great hall stood. The East Tower is to the right. People lived in it until the 1990’s!
The Inner Bailey was enclosed by the first stone curtain wall of the mid 12th century but had to be rebuilt in the 14th century after subsidence.
The Keep. The west wall of the keep shows the scar of the gable end of the Norman roof, indicating the great height of the open-roofed upper hall. Within the west wall a flight of stairs goes up to the battlement level walk. The south and east walls are no longer there so no other Norman features remain.
The remains of the base of the south drum tower (home to a huge conservatory in the early 1900s); and the north-west drum tower, which still dominates this end of the castle. The open grassy area to the south-west of the castle formed the pele yard, a service area for the castle which was also the site of St Mary’s Chapel, built in the 1200s but long gone.
So that’s it for this time, but we’ve more yet to see so
No apostrophies were harmed in the making of this post, but some may have gone out to play, and others could be playing somewhere they’re not supposed to be.