Uncovering Northumberland’s castle heritage
The majestic and magical castles of Northumberland are a beautiful reminder of its past. Dotted along the coastline – some bold and brave on the rocky cliffs above the beach, others reinvented for the modern world through blockbuster films – they all have a rich history to explore and any from the list below are well-worth a visit.
Alnwick Castle is the second largest inhabited castle in England and home to the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, whose ancestors have lived here since 1309. Now renowned as the magical setting for Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films, you can relive some of those scenes with a spot of broomstick training, see how the other half lives in the State Rooms and try your hand at some medieval arts and crafts. Alnwick is open to the public from March to October and holds regular seasonal events including summer concerts.
The position of Bamburgh Castle makes it one of the most breathtaking places to visit. Set on the rocky plateau above Bamburgh beach, it has far-reaching sea views and provides a dramatic back drop to the beach. This 11th century Norman castle was saved from ruin by Lord Armstrong’s late Victorian restoration and it still provides a home to the Armstrong family today.
This quirky castle has ghost tours, curses, curious weapons and a torture chamber. It’s not all gruesome – there are woodland and lake walks and the chance to get up close with the only wild cattle in the world.
Dating back to 1313, this massive ruined castle dominates this lonely stretch of coastline, reached by delightful walks along the rocky shoreline from Craster or over the dunes and beach from Embleton. Catch it at sunrise or sunset for some truly sublime views.
This striking 16th century castle was originally built as a Tudor fort. It stands dramatically on a prominent rocky outcrop on Holy Island, which is cut off twice a day by the tide. The thrill here is making sure you know your tide times beforehand or you could get caught out as many have done before. Lindisfarne Castle and Priory are steeped in medieval history and some 650,000 people visit every year.
Warkworth Castle’s main feature is a very impressive cross-shaped keep that rises steeply above the River Coquet and dominates one of the largest and strongest fortresses in Northern England. The keep is virtually complete and overlooks the remains of a great hall, chapel and gatehouse.