Northumberland Castle Series

Bamburgh Castle

Once the royal seat of the Kings of Northumbria, Bamburgh Castle has stood guard over this beautiful coastline for over one thousand, four hundred years. Spanning nine acres of land, Bamburgh Castle is one of the largest inhabited castles in the country.

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Bamburgh Castle dominates the Northumberland countryside and coastline sitting 150 feet above sea level. It sits on a natural throne of volcanic dolerite, known as whinstone for the sound it makes when hit by a stonemason’s hammer.  An iconic building which has more than its fair share of legends and myths, with dragons and ghosts it’s also believed to be the site of Sir Lancelot’s fictitious castle, Joyous Garde.

The Castles past comes to life with dark tales of royal rebellion, bloody battles and spell-binding legends. This magnificent castle stands proudly on the coast with breath-taking views out to The Farne Islands and Lindisfarne. It’s little surprise it has been designated an area of outstanding natural beauty.

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Bamburgh’s written history begins in the times of the Anglo-Saxons with one chronicler citing Bamburgh as probably the most important place in all of England. Even before this there were people living at Bamburgh with archaeological evidence as early as 10,000 BC There are Bronze Age (2,400 -700BC) burials nearby and pottery sherds dating to the Iron Age (700 BC – 43AD), with little evidence of their occupation only the name Din Guayrdi gives us a hint that Romans were sometime between 43AD and 410AD.

It was during the early medieval period between 411AD and 1066AD that Bamburgh Castle grew in stature and importance. The Saxons created an important Christian site which was visited by a number of saints including Oswald, Aidan and Cuthbert.  The Normans were the next to arrival at Bamburgh and they construction the Great Tower which were used to defend the castle during the Wars of the Roses siege of 1464.

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The Foster family, were then gifted the ruins by James 1 with the subsequent acquisition by Lord Crewe and the formation of the Crewe Trustees.  A resurgence in stature for the castle under the guidance of John Sharpe the castle became a leading surgery for the poor and sick.  Finally the castle passed into the hands of the First Lord Armstrong, with the intention of creating a respite home, sadly he passed away before its restoration and it became the Armstrong family home.  It is still owned by the Armstrong Family today and they opened the castle to visitors in the mid 1900’s and remains to this day an icon of the North East of England.

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Bamburgh Castle has been in high demand and appeared everywhere from Countryfile’s Christmas Special to blockbusters including Transformers 5, The BFG and Macbeth.

Richard Burton came to Bamburgh to shoot scenes for “Becket” with Peter O’Toole in 1964, bringing screen idol Elizabeth Taylor on location. The castle’s harsh beauty and history has captivated directors like Roman Polanski who filmed William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” at the castle in 1971. Acclaimed director Ken Russell chose Bamburgh as the backdrop for cult film, “The Devils” starring Oliver Reed & Vanessa Redgrave.

the-devils

Over the years the castle has starred in many a historical epic including the 1952 adaption “Ivanhoe” starring Elizabeth Taylor, “El Cid” with Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren in 1961, the 1972 film “Mary Queen of Scots” with Glenda Jackson and recently “Elizabeth” with Cate Blanchett and Joseph Fiennes in 1998.

The castle’s archaeological and historical discoveries have featured in the recent BBC of “How the Celts Saved Britain”, “Coast”, “Meet the Ancestors” and “Time Team” as well as appearing on the Discovery Channel.

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