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Bamburgh Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Bamborough; Bambrough; Bebanburgh; Bebbanburgh; Bamborrow; Baanburgo

In the civil parish of Bamburgh.
In the historic county of Northumberland.
Modern Authority of Northumberland.
1974 county of Northumberland.
Medieval County of Northumberland.

OS Map Grid Reference: NU18323508
Latitude 55.60913° Longitude -1.71050°

Bamburgh Castle has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are major building remains.

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law*.

Description

Castle, divided into apartments. C12; ruinous when acquired by Lord Crewe in 1704 and made habitable after his death by Dr. Sharpe, the trustee of the charitable trust endowed by his will. Acquired by Lord Armstrong, who had extensive restoration and rebuilding of high quality by C.J. Ferguson, 1894- 1904. Squared sandstone and ashlar.
A huge castle, about a quarter of a mile long and covering 8 acres on a volcanic outcrop in extremely dramatic-situation. It has C12 keep and 3 wards.
Main entrance on east side is largely C12 with rounded towers flanking tunnel- vaulted archway. Inside, high walls protect approach to inner gateway which has C12 vault but is largely C19 above.
East ward: Extensive buildings by Ferguson on south side, incorporating medieval masonry (cf interior); these include Captain's Lodge and King's Hall in elaborate Perpendicular style. Buildings left of these, also by Ferguson in more restrained early Tudor style. In centre, ruins of C12 chapel with apse.
Keep, between east and west wards: high, multi-moulded plinth; C12 ground- floor doorway with 2 round arches and 2 orders of renewed columns. Broad angle pilasters rise as higher turrets; battlemented parapet; many round- headed windows, mainly of the C18.
West ward has 2 gatehouses; the Smith Gate on north-east is largely C19; the Neville tower on north-west incorporates medieval vault and masonry. Extensive C19 apartments along south side in Tudor style, ending on right in round clock tower which is medieval in lower parts. West side has late C19 stables, 5 bays with octagonal corner towers.
Outer ward to west contains the windmill and extensive fragments of medieval curtain wall.
Interior: Keep; ground floor vaulted with 2 parallel tunnel vaults on huge square piers; mural stair to 1st floor; armoury, possibly originally a chapel with vaulted apse on east side; groin-vaulted ceiling. Captain's Lodge: C14 barrel-vaulted basement (now the shop) with 10 chamfered transverse ribs; all work above by Ferguson, including vaulted lobby and staircase and fine cantilevered stair with Art Nouveau balusters. Kings Hall and Cross Hall, on site of medieval hall, the 3 service doors of which remain: Perpendicular style with 2 large oriels, huge fireplace with joggled lintel, panelled overmantel and stone tracery above. 6-bay false hammerbeam roof, elaborately carved in teak. Much Arts and Crafts detail including window recesses down sides of hall; screens passage and musicians' gallery. Former pantry, buttery and kitchen remain. Pantry and buttery have high, pointed tunnel vaults. The kitchen has 3 huge segmental-arched fireplaces and 4 pointed-arched medieval doorways, 2 now blocked. (Listed Building Report)

Very large C12 royal castle atop a volcanic outcrop, overlying prehistoric and Roman occupation. Limited excavation in 1960 and the late 1960s/early 1970s revealed that the naturally defensive site, well placed for coastal control, was continuously occupied from the first century BC until the end of the Middle Ages. Use of the site began in the pre Roman Iron Age, and Roman activity, included a possible beacon site on the seaward terminal of the rock. By 547 AD the site was a royal centre, Din Guyardi, the capital of the royal dynasty of Northumbria, where remains of St Oswald were preserved in the Basilica of St Peter. A castle was built in C12. Ruinous by 1704 it was extensively restored between 1894 and 1904 and divided into apartments. Original C12 remains include the keep, the main entrance and inner gateway with a vault, and a chapel. In 1464, Bamburgh became the first English castle to succumb to artillery assault. Despite its history there has been little investigation of the site. The Bamburgh Project, under the aegis of The Archaeological Practice, began in 1997 to investigate the site and its environs. Resistivity and magnetometry survey revealed possible Anglo Saxon features underlying the Inner and West Wards and the Chapel of St Peter. The Project continues. (PastScape)
Built on the site of a Northumbrian defended site in 1095. Keep mentioned in 1164, building work done 1220-37. Besieged unsuccessfully by the Scots in 1138,1328 and 1333. Taken by Yorkists in 1462 (twice) and by French and Scots on behalf of the Lancastrians in 1463. Finally captured by the Yorkists using guns in 1464. In bad repair by the 16th century. Modern alterations (King 1983).
Bamburgh, formerly the citadel of the Kings of Bernicia, became a royal fortress in 1095 when captured from the Earl of Northumberland. Except for a short period when it was in the possession of the Earl of Huntingdon, King David of Scotland's son, it remained an important royal fortress until the unification of the English and Scottish Crowns. During the struggle between Henry III and Simon de Montfort, it was the only royal castle to remain consistently loyal to the King (HKW). (PastScape)
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

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Sources of information, references and further reading
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*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated 02/02/2017 13:45:49

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