Why not pay a visit to Uhtred (the lead character in the Lost Kingdom - from the excellent Bernard Corwell series). 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 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 unsuccessfully besieged it in 1095 during a revolt supported by its owner, Robert de Mowbray, Earl of Northumbria. After Robert was captured, his wife 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. As an important English outpost, the castle was the target of occasional raids from Scotland. 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 (not the most auspicious of achievements), 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 - the founder of Armstrong Whitworth - who completed the restoration. For a much fuller (and very fascinating) history and timeline of the castle, click here.
Since 1996, the Bamburgh Research Project has been investigating the archaeology and history of the Castle and Bamburgh area. The project has concentrated on the fortress site and the early medieval burial ground at the Bowl Hole, to the south of the castle. Archaeological excavations were started in the 1960s by Dr. Brian Hope-Taylor, who discovered the gold plaque known as the Bamburgh Beast as well as the Bamburgh Sword. The project runs a training dig for eight weeks every summer for students to learn more about archaeological techniques and to further research into the Castle. The castle's laundry rooms feature the Armstrong and Aviation Artefacts Museum, with exhibits about William Armstrong and Armstrong Whitworth, the manufacturing company he founded. Displays include engines, artillery and weaponry, and aviation artefacts from two world wars. Bamburgh Castle has 14 public rooms and more than 2,000 artefacts, including arms and armour, porcelain, furniture and artwork. A wheelchair is available for visitors to use. The main entrance is not accessible by wheel chair due to the width of the medieval doorway. A separate entrance 10 metres before the main entrance provides access to the building and inside of the main entrance point. The first five castle rooms are accessible by wheel chair with a ramp (1:6) leading into the Kings Hall. For those visitors that have some independence from the wheelchair it may be possible to access further areas of the castle. All areas of the castle, with the exception of the dungeon are well lit. The majority of the current interpretation is in large print, black on a white background. The handbook is available in a large print format. Situated in the main hall an audio-visual presentation continues the tour of the house for those who are un-able to continue. There are two wheelchair accessible toilets in the grounds. Audio tour available.
Location : Bamburgh Castle, Bamburgh, Northumberland NE69 7DF
Transport: Chathill (National Rail) then bus. Bus routes 500, 501, 505, 515, 401 and 411 stops nearby.
Opening Times: Daily 10:00 to 17:00
Tickets: Adults £10.50 Concesssions £10.00 Children £5.00
Tel: 01668 214515