Bamburgh Castle

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Other/Unknown), and also as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are major building remains

NameBamburgh Castle
Alternative NamesBamborough; Bambrough; Bebanburgh; Bebbanburgh; Bamborrow; Baanburgo
Historic CountryNorthumberland
Modern AuthorityNorthumberland
1974 AuthorityNorthumberland
Civil ParishBamburgh

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)

Not scheduled

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNU183350
Latitude55.609130859375
Longitude-1.71050000190735
Eastings418320
Northings635080
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Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
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Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
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Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
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Books

  • Dixon, Philip, 2015, 'Steps to Lordship' in T.A. Heslop and Helen E. Lunnon (eds), Norwich Medieval and Early Modern Art, Architecture and Archaeology (The British Archaeological Association Conference Transactions 38) p. 118-134
  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) passim
  • Beckensall, Stan, 2010, Coastal Castles of Northumberland (Amberley) p. 12-13, 65-96
  • Geldard, Ed, 2009, Northumberland Strongholds (London: Frances Lincoln) p. 54
  • Purton, P.F., 2010, A History of the Late Medieval Siege: 1200-1500 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press) p. 300 (1464 siege)
  • Graeme Young, Paul Gething (eds), 2003, Bamburgh Castle (The Bamburgh Research Project)
  • Dodds, John F., 1999, Bastions and Belligerents (Newcastle upon Tyne: Keepdate Publishing) p. 136-142
  • Salter, Mike, 1997, The Castles and Tower Houses of Northumberland (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 18-21
  • Emery, Anthony, 1996, Greater Medieval Houses of England and Wales Vol. 1 Northern England (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) p. 42-4
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 174-5
  • Jackson, M.J.,1992, Castles of Northumbria (Carlisle) p. 18-21 (plan)
  • Pevsner, N., 1992 (revised by Grundy, John et al), Buildings of England: Northumberland (London, Penguin) p. 154-7
  • Brown, R.Allen, 1989, Castles from the Air (Cambridge University Press) p. 41-44
  • Rowland, T.H., 1987 (reprint1994), Medieval Castles, Towers, Peles and Bastles of Northumberland (Sandhill Press) p. 5, 7, 8, 10, 24-6
  • Cramp, R., 1984, Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Stone Sculpture in England: Northumberland and County Durham (London) p. 162-3
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 326
  • Fry, P.S., 1980, Castles of the British Isles (David and Charles) p. 182-3
  • Graham, Frank, 1976, The Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Frank Graham) p. 43-52
  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 98, 99
  • Long, B., 1967, Castles of Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) p. 56-57
  • Colvin, H.M., Brown, R.Allen and Taylor, A.J., 1963, The history of the King's Works Vol. 2: the Middle Ages (London: HMSO) p. 554-8
  • Pevsner, N., 1957, Buildings of England: Northumberland (London, Penguin) p. 80-1
  • Hugill, R.,1939, Borderland Castles and Peles (1970 Reprint by Frank Graham) p. 34-9
  • Oman, Charles W.C., 1926, Castles (1978 edn Beetham House: New York) p. 22
  • Tipping, H.A., 1921, English Homes, period 1 Vol. 1 (London) p. 41-54
  • Armitage, Ella, 1912, The Early Norman Castles of the British Isles (London: John Murray) p. 100-1 online copy
  • Evans, Herbert A., 1912, Castles of England and Wales (London) p. 43-57
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 2 p. 363-7 online copy
  • Tomlinson, W.W., 1897, Comprehensive Guide to Northumberland (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) p. 427-35
  • Bates, C.J., 1893, 'Bamburgh Castle' in Bateson, Edward (ed), Northumberland County History (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) Vol. 1 p. 17-70 online copy
  • Bates, C.J., 1891, Border Holds of Northumberland (London and Newcastle: Andrew Reid) p. 223-82, 426-7 (Also published as the whole of volume 14 (series 2) of Archaeologia Aeliana view online)
  • Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 3 (London) p. 357-59 online copy
  • Gibson, W., 1850, Northumbrian Castles, Churches and Antiquities part 2 p. 175- online copy
  • Hodgson, J., 1820-58, History of Northumberland Vol. 1 Part 1 p. 179, 183, 186
  • Scott, W., 1814, Border Antiquities of England and Scotland p. 51-3 online copy
  • Hodgson, J. and Laird, F., 1813, Beauties of England and Wales; Northumberland Vol. 12 p. 203-6
  • King, Edward, 1804, Munimenta antiqua or Observations on antient castles (W.Bulmer and Co) Vol. 3 p. 208n, 220-9 online copy
  • Grose, Francis, 1785 (new edn orig 1756), Antiquities of England and Wales (London) Vol. 4 p. 49-59
  • Hutchinson, Wm, 1776, A View of Northumberland (Newcastle) Vol. 2 p. 154-68 online copy
  • Buck, Samuel and Nathaniel, 1774, Buck's Antiquities (London) Vol. 1 p. 214

Antiquarian

  • Camden, Wm, 1607, Britannia hypertext critical edition by Dana F. Sutton (2004)
  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England (Sutton Publishing) p. 343
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1910, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 5 p. 64 online copy

Journals

  • Goodall, J.G., 2015, 'Glory of the north: Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland, part I' Country Life Vol. 209:27 p. 68-73
  • Young, G., 2011, ‘At the heart of Bamburgh Castle’ British Archaeology Vol. 118 p. 44-47
  • Wood, P.N., 2005, 'Geophysical survey at Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 49 p. 305-10 download copy
  • Young, G., 2005, 'The Bamburgh Research Project' Archaeology in Northumberland Vol. 15 p. 10-1 (brief project update) download from Northumberland CC
  • Bradley, J and Gaimster, M. (eds), 2004, 'Medieval Britain and Ireland in 2003' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 48 p. 281-2 download copy
  • Wood, Phil, 2004, 'Exciting finds from Bamburgh Castle' Archaeology in Northumberland Vol. 14 p. 17 download from Northumberland CC
  • Speight, Sarah, 2004, ''Religion in the Bailey: Charters, Chapels and the Clergy' Cha^teau Gaillard Vol. 21 p. 271-80
  • Young, Graeme and Wood, Phil, 2001-2002, 'Bamburgh Castle research Project' Castle Studies Group Newsletter No. 15 p. 38-41 online copy
  • 2001-02, Archaeology in Northumberland Vol. 12 p. 17-8
  • 2000-01, Archaeology in Northumberland Vol. 11 p. 11
  • Wood, P. and Young, G., 1997-98, Archaeology in Northumberland Vol. 8 p. 32-3 (anglo-saxon settlement)
  • Thompson, M.W., 1992 Nov, 'A suggested dual origin for keeps'' Fortress: The castles and fortifications quarterly Vol. 15 p. 3-15
  • Thompson, M.W., 1986, 'Associated monasteries and castles in the Middle Ages: a tentative list' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 143 p. 311
  • 1972, CBA Group 3 Newsbulletin Vol. 1 p. 9
  • 1960, Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 23 p. 9-10, 12
  • Brown, R. Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 p. 249-280 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 90-121) view online copy (subscription required)
  • Brown, R. Allen, 1955, 'Royal Castle-building in England 1154-1216' English Historical Review Vol. 70 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press)) p. 19-64
  • St Joseph, J.K., 1950, 'Castles of Northumberland from the air' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser4) Vol. 28 p. 7-17 esp 11-12
  • Brewis, 1925, The Archaeological Journal Vol. 82 p. 245-8 online copy
  • Hodgson, J.C., 1916, 'List of Ruined Towers, Chapels, etc., in Northumberland; compiled about 1715 by John Warburton, Somerset Herald, aided by John Horsley' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser3) Vol. 13 p. 4 abridged transcription
  • Tipping, H.A., 1908, Country Life Vol. 24 p. 160-71
  • 1898, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (ser2) Vol. 8 p. 233-8 online copy
  • 1894, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (ser2) Vol. 6 p. 193-7
  • Bates, C.J., 1891, 'Border Holds of Northumberland' Archaeologia Aeliana (ser2) Vol. 14 p. 223-82, 426-7 online copy
  • 1891, The Monthly Chronicle of North Country Lore and Legend p. 165-73
  • Clark, G.T., 1889, 'Bamburgh Castle' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 93-113 online copy
  • 1887, The Antiquary Vol. 16 p. 209-10 (slight)
  • Clark, G.T., 1883-4, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (ser2) Vol. 1 p. 245-7

Guide Books

  • Cleary, Byran, c. 2005, Bamburgh Castle: 'the finest castle in England' (Derby: Heritage House Group)
  • Lady Armstrong (parts revised and edited by Hope-Taylor, B.), 1994, Bamburgh Castle (Norwick, Jerrold)
  • Hope-Taylor, B., 1968, Bamburgh Castle Official Guide (London)

Primary Sources

  • Ingram, James, (ed) 1912, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (Everyman Press, London) Laud Chronicle AD547; Laud AD1095 view online transcription (Ingram's translation and notes date from 1823. More recent translations of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles should be consulted for serious study)
  • Chibnall, Majorie (ed), 1973, Orderic Vitalis, Historia Ecclesiastica book VIII (Oxford: Clarendon Press) Vol. 4
  • Coxe, H. (ed), 1841, Rogeri de Wendover, Chronica sive Flores Historiarum (London) Vol. 2 p. 46 online copy
  • Pipe Roll 1211-12 (see Pipe Roll Society for published references)
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 348-51
  • 1415, Nomina Castrorum et Fortaliciorum infra Comitatum Northumbrie online transcription
  • Sir Robert Bowes, 1550, A Book of the State of the Frontiers and Marches betwixt England and Scotland taken from Brit. Mus. Cotton. MS. Titus, F.13, a copy of the original (see Bates, 51, n185). Printed in Hodgson, [pt.3, ii, 187, 206 > http://archive.org/stream/historyofnortpt302hodguoft#page/206/mode/1up]
  • 1584, Report of the Commissioners on the Borders (1584) under Lord Hunsdon; largely the work of Christopher Dacre. Online transcription
  • C145/21 (1) The National Archives reference (survey c. 1248) (in [NCH p. 32 > http://archive.org/stream/historyofnorthum01nort#page/32/mode/1up])
  • C47/3/51(15) The National Archives reference (survey temp Edw III)
  • C145/114(8) (survey 1330) The National Archives reference (in NCH p. 39) (in Maxwell Lyte, H.C., 1916, Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous (Chancery), preserved in the Public Record Office (H.M.S.O.) Vol. 2 p. 286 No. 1165 [online copy > https://archive.org/stream/calendarofinqu02grea#page/286/mode/2up])
  • C145/202(5) (survey 1372) The National Archives reference (in Stamp. A.E. (ed), 1937, Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous (Chancery), preserved in the Public Record Office (H.M.S.O.) Vol. 3 p. 327 No. 854 [online copy > http://hdl.handle.net/2027/inu.30000095331645?urlappend=%3Bseq=339])
  • C145/202(15) (survey 1372) The National Archives reference (in Stamp. A.E. (ed), 1937, Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous (Chancery), preserved in the Public Record Office (H.M.S.O.) Vol. 3 p. 331 No. 864 [online copy > http://hdl.handle.net/2027/inu.30000095331645?urlappend=%3Bseq=343])
  • C145/207(15) (survey 1376) The National Archives reference (in Stamp. A.E. (ed), 1937, Calendar of Inquisitions Miscellaneous (Chancery), preserved in the Public Record Office (H.M.S.O.) Vol. 3 p. 374 No. 979 [online copy > http://hdl.handle.net/2027/inu.30000095331645?urlappend=%3Bseq=386])
  • E36/173, ff. 53-9 (survey 29 Hen VIII)The National Archives reference (in [NCH p. 49-51 > http://archive.org/stream/historyofnorthum01nort#page/49/mode/1up])
  • E173/1729 (survey 17 Eliz) (in NCH p. 52-4)
  • SP15/28/95 (survey 1584) The National Archives reference

Other

  • Time Team (Mike Aston et al), 2011, April 24 (1st broadcast), 'Castle of the Saxon Kings' Time Team TV Programme (Time Team, a Videotext/Picture House production for Channel 4)
  • Cornell, David, 2006, English castle garrisons in the Anglo-Scottish wars of the fourteenth century (Doctoral thesis, Durham University) online copy
  • Constable, Christopher, 2003, Aspects of the archaeology of the castle in the north of England C 1066-1216 (Doctoral thesis, Durham University) Available at Durham E-Theses Online