Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Historic Sites - Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland, UK

Whenever anyone tells me they have been on a tour of the UK it seems that London, the Cotswolds, the Lake District or Edinburgh are the most common destinations on their itinerary. Some might venture into Wales, Cornwall or the Scottish Highlands, but it's rare to hear of the northeast of England being included. Which is a shame, because it offers magnificent scenery and a wealth of history that rivals other more popular tourist areas.

Take Bamburgh Castle for example. One of the largest still-inhabited castles in the country, it is impressive not only for its size but also for its location on a rocky outcrop right beside the sea. I've been to visit it several times but had never appreciated the extent of its history.

the view on approach to the village of Bamburgh 

The castle was originally home to the Kings of Northumbria, at a time when Northumbria was the most powerful of the seven kingdoms of Anglo Saxon England. Bamburgh was known as 'the very foundation stone of England'.  Between AD 700 and AD 1000  attacks by rival kingdoms and the subsequent invasion by the Vikings led to the eventual dissolution of the Northumbrian Kingdom and the castle fell into disrepair.

view from the village

With the arrival of William the Conqueror the Normans used the castle as a base for invading Scotland and it was rebuilt. A Great Tower constructed  in 1164 still stands today. Over the years the castle was extended and fortified until the War of the Roses in 1464 when the castle garnered the distinction of becoming the first English castle to be defeated by gunpowder artillery.

By 1610 the castle was abandoned by James I and gifted to Claudius Forster, the castle's royal keeper whose family had held that post for generations.

In 1894 it was purchased by Lord William Armstrong, a wealthy industrialist who was also an inventor and philanthropist. He oversaw the restoration of the castle with the intention that it should be used as a home for retired gentlemen, but he passed away before it was complete. His great nephew inherited the title and the castle and completed the work, but decided to make it a family residence. Today it is still the family's private home but parts of the castle are now open to visitors.

The castle has been used in several movies including Macbeth (1971 and 2015 versions) and Elizabeth (1998). Scenes from The BFG were filmed on the beach and more recently 'Transformers: The Last Knight',which will be released later this year, was on location at the castle.

view to the south

view to the north

The day we visited was cold and windy so we almost had the beach to ourselves, but even in good weather you never have to worry about crowds.

There are miles and miles of beautiful sandy beaches along the northeast coast, mostly undeveloped thanks to the changeable climate which has deterred tourism, but this one with the castle looming over the dunes and sand is one of my favorites.

The village of Bamburgh is small but has plenty of places to eat and drink, including The Copper Kettle Tea Rooms which offers a wonderful cream tea.

Mel Parish writes contemporary fiction with a twist of mystery and suspense.

Her latest novel Trust No One  is currently entered into the Kindle Scout competition which lets readers check out the first few chapters of an unpublished novel and decide whether it is worthy of nomination for an Amazon publishing contract. If a book is selected all those who nominated the book get a free copy when it’s published!
You can check out the campaign page at https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/3F2P5G8A4YVW3.

Please take a look  and, if you like what you see, nominate Trust No One before 10 March 2017


  1. Excellent - a castle and beach. Makes me want to travel there :)

    1. Yes, a perfect combination. And there is a lot more to see in the area too. You just have to be prepared for all weathers!

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