best northumberland castles

12 Must Visit Castles in Northumberland, England

Northumberland’s Castles are set in some of England’s most stunning countryside, guarding enters to harbours, and providing strongholds.  They look romantic and impregnable and despite the ravages of the centuries, skirmishes and an often vicious weather pattern they remain stunning to look at.  There are more than 70 castles in Northumberland, England’s most northerly county.  That there are so many is a testament to the geography of the county, on the border with Scotland and the east coast of England.  Many of Northumberland’s castles are in ruins, however, an incredible number retain their structures and are open to the public to visit.  We’ve selected 12 of the most stunning and historic Northumberland Castles that you should visit while in Northumberland.


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The Best Northumberland Castles to Visit

We’ve brought you a selection of the best castles in Northumberland.  Some of quite stunning in their location and overlook, like Bamburgh Castle, overlooking the North East coast from the most majestic of viewpoints.  There are those that many will recognize, like Alnwick Castle most recently famed from the Harry Potter movies, Downton Abbey and Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves.  Northumberland’s castles have hosted Kings, kept Viking and Scottish marauders at bay and they have inspired artists.  Here are the legendary and very, very beautiful castles of Northumberland.

If you need to rent a car in Northumberland, we recommend Discover Cars for car hire.  You can search, compare and save up to 70%, with no hidden fees and free cancellation, what have you got to lose? Get a price for a rental car in Northumberland here.

Map of Northumberland Castles

Map of Northumberland Castles

You can also see the Northumberland Castles map here.

Alnwick Castle Northumberland

For those outside the area, Alnwick is the most famous castle in Northumberland due to its starring role in the Harry Potter movies, Downton Abbey and Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves.  Today Alnwick Castle is the second largest castle in England (after Windsor Castle) and is still the family home of the Percy family, the Dukes of Northumberland.

Northumberlands best Alnwick Castle

A Brief History of Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle dates back to Norman times, was originally built in the 11th century and has been the home of the Percy Family since 1309.  Alnwick Castle was originally built as border protection, it lies just 30 kilometres (19 miles) from the England – Scotland border.  There have been periods when the castle fell into disrepair and times when the castle has been home to evacuees and refugees.   Alnwick Castle is currently home to both the Percy family and students from the St Cloud State University, Minnesota, USA.  Read more about Alnwick Castle history here.

What to See At Alnwick Castle

There are LOTS of things to do at Alnwick Castle, as well as a huge number of things to see.  You’ll want to plan for the full day visiting here and pre-booking tours if you have a specific interest in the film location tours, here are our top tips of what to see and do at Alnwick Castle.

  • Visit the double-level library of 14,000 books at Alnwick Castle.
  • Take a stateroom tour of Alnwick Castle and see the Italian Renaissance style staterooms with elaborately carved ceilings, silk walls and a stunning private art collection.
  • Take a film location tour of Alnwick Castle and visit where the flying car belonging to the Weasley Family of Harry Potter fame crashed.
  • Take a broomstick training class while in Alnwick
  • Visit the exhibitions of the history of Alnwick Castle’s previous residents and plotters.

Where is Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle is located in the centre of the town of Alnwick.  If you’re planning on visiting Alnwick Castle, then here’s our list of the best things to see and do in Alnwick while you’re there! Alnwick Castle, Alnwick, Northumberland, NE66 1NG.

How to Get to Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle is easy to reach by road, just a mile from the A1 – just follow the signposts.  The main car park is located on Denwick Lane, the B1340.  There’s a charge of £3 per vehicle for the car park for the day, and the car park is open from 1000, only cash is accepted.

If you’re visiting from Edinburgh, then there’s a fabulous trip that combines visiting Alnwick Castle and the best of Northumberland!

If you’re taking the train to Alnwick Castle, then alight off the East Coast mainline from London to Edinburgh at Alnmouth Station.  Take a taxi or a bus (the X18) from Alnmouth to Alnwick, it’s a distance of 4 miles and takes about 10 minutes. Check train times and buy tickets here.

Buses run to Alnwick from surrounding towns as well as from the Haymarket bus station in Newcastle Upon Tyne (the X15 and the 18).  Alnwick’s bus station is just 5 minutes walk from Alnwick Castle.

Alnwick Castle Opening Times

Alnwick Castle is normally open from 0900 until 1730.  State Rooms close at 1630.   Last entrance to the castle is at 1545.

Alnwick Castle Entrance Fees

Entrance prices to Alnwick Castle are £18.50 for adults and £9.75 for children.  Combined tickets to visit Alnwick Castle and the Garden cost £30.25 for adults and £13.25 for children.

Aydon Castle Northumberland

Aydon Castle is to be found on the outskirts of the Roman town of Corbridge.  This 13th Century Fortified Manor House is virtually completely intact.  In its original form is was a simple Manor House, but following hostilities between the English and Scots, it was fortified and became known as a Castle.  Aydon Castle is recognised as one of the best examples of an unaltered 13th century Manor house.

Northumberlands best Aydon Castle

History of Aydon Castle

Aydon Castle was originally built as a manor house in the 13th century by Huge de Raymes, a wealthy merchant from Suffolk.  Hostilities between the English and the Scots commenced not long after it was built and it was almost immediately then fortified.  However, Aydon Castle was pillaged and then burnt by the Scots in 1315, reseized by English rebels in 1317 and seized again by the Scots in 1346.  Aydon Castle is just 50 miles from the England – Scotland border.  In the 17th century, Aydon Castle once again became a farmhouse and was lived in until 1966.  The property is now managed by English Heritage.  There’s more on the history of Aydon Castle here.

What to See At Aydon Castle

The surroundings at Aydon Castle are quite lovely, as it is positioned in secluded woodlands, be sure to take time to take a walk through them.  Be sure to see

  • The manor house
  • The walled orchard – it’s a great place for a picnic
  • Don’t miss the 13th century medieval carved fireplaces

Where is Aydon Castle

Aydon Castle is located off Aydon Road, Corbridge, Northumberland, NE45 5PJ.

How to Get to Aydon Castle

Aydon Castle is located off Aydon Road, Corbridge, Northumberland, NE45 5PJ.  Aydon Castle is 1 mile from Corbridge  There is a car park at Aydon Castle for 20 cars and parking is free for English Heritage members, there may be a charge for non-members.   The car park is 100 metres walk from the entrance to the castle.

To take the bus to Aydon Castle, take the Alba or Classic service AD122 between April and November.  Alternatively, take the bus to Corbridge and walk from there.

The closest train station to Aydon Castle is Corbridge you can walk to the castle from Corbridge Train station along a bridle path on the western side of Aydon Road, which you can access immediately to the north of Corbridge bypass. Check train times and buy tickets here.

Aydon Castle Opening Times

Aydon Castle is open every day apart from Monday and Tuesday.  The castle is open between 1000 and 1800.

Aydon Castle Entrance Fees

Aydon Castle is free to English Heritage members – check membership options here .  Non-members pay £5.90 for entry, £3.50 for children.

Bamburgh Castle Northumberland

Bamburgh Castle is found in the village of Bamburgh on the North East Coast.  It holds a stunning defensive position with glorious views over Northumberland and the coast to the Farne Islands and Holy Island.  Bamburgh Castle is a Grade I listed building that began life as a Celtic fort.  The Normans built what has become the current castle and ownership passed between various parties untilVictorian times when the castle was bought by William Armstrong, an (amongst other things) arms manufacturer.  Today Bamburgh Castle remains in the ownership of the Armstrong family.


A Brief History of Bamburgh Castle

Originally known as Din Guarie, the origins of Bamburgh Castle lie in a Celtic Fort, which may have been used to control the kingdom of Bernicia from 420 to 547.  The original fort passed between Celts and Anglo Saxons several times until 590 when it was taken by the Anglo Saxons.   It was destroyed by Vikings in 993 and the core of the current castle was built by the Normans after 1066.  Ownership of Bamburgh Castle passed to the King in 1095.  The castle changed hands several times and was bought by William Armstrong in 1894 and he began its restoration.  The Armstrong Family still own Bamburgh Castle and allow it to be opened to the public.  During the Second World War, pillboxes were built in the dunes below the castle to protect it   The castle has been a pharmacy, surgery, free school and private residence.  Bamburgh Castle features in one of the Northumberland detective novels by LJ Ross – just one of the books set in Northumberland that we recommend reading.

What to See At Bamburgh Castle

One of the most magnificent things to see at Bamburgh Castle is the view.  That’s the view from the Castle itself over the Northumberland Coast, out to Holy Island and the Farne Islands and also the view of the castle from Bamburgh Beach.  The castle is a beacon from many miles away and is especially striking at dawn or sunset from the beach. Bamburgh beach is one of Northumberland’s Best beaches, read about the others here.

There’s a lot to see at Bamburgh and we recommend arriving early (book your tickets online here.  It’s possible to buy tickets in person on the day, but buying online saves lining up) bringing a picnic, or planning to visit the onsite tea room and spending most of the day here. It’s our top thing to do in Bamburgh.

Make time to see these highlights of Bamburgh Castle

  • The Bamburgh Castle State Rooms
  • The Kings Hall
  • The Armoury
  • The Keep at Bamburgh Castle
  • The Archaeology Room
  • The Armstrong Aviation Museum (you’ll need at least an hour along for this!)
  • The Cross Hall
  • The Library
  • The Faire Chamber
  • The Keep Hall
  • The Battery Terrace (recommended for picnics)

Where is Bamburgh Castle

Bamburgh Castle is located at the edge of the town of Bamburgh in Northumberland, it holds a stunning location overlooking the north east coast and has views to Holy Island and the Farne Islands.  Bamburgh is in the county of Northumberland – halfway between Alnwick and Berwick upon Tweed.  The town of Bamburgh is set next to the North East Coast and is 39 miles (62 kilometres) from the closest airport, Newcastle Upon Tyne.

How to Get to Bamburgh Castle

Bamburgh is accessible by local bus services, by a train to Berwick Upon Tweed or Alnwick and it is also easy to drive to Bamburgh.

To travel by car to Bamburgh take the A1 north until the B1341 junction. Bamburgh is 5 miles (8 kilometres) from the A1.  If you are travelling from the north, take the B1342 junction from the A1.  If you have more time then the B1340 coastal road provides lovely views.  Parking is available at Bamburgh Castle for £3 per car per day and this car park is a great place to leave your car to explore the rest of Bamburgh.

The closest train station to Bamburgh is Chathill, but not many trains stop at this station.  The more regular train station to use to get to Bamburgh is either Berwick or Alnmouth.  Both Berwick and Alnmouth are on the East Coast Mainline. Check train times and buy tickets here.

In summer there are hourly local buses that go from Newcastle to Berwick.  The best planner to use in order to travel by bus to Bamburgh is here.

Bamburgh Castle Opening Times

Bamburgh Castle is open every day.  The castle is open between 1000 and 1700, last entry is at 1600.

Bamburgh Castle Entrance Fees

Entry to Bamburgh Castle costs  £11.75 for Adults and £5.75 for Children (aged 5-18).  A family day pass for 2 adults and up to 3 children costs £29.95. Bamburgh Castle is operating a cashless system for entry tickets at this time.  You can prebook your Bamburgh Castle tickets here and get a 5% discount.

Looking for other things to do in Northumberland?  Here’s our top 10 of the best of Northumberland.

Belsay Hall and Belsay Castle, Northumberland

You’re in for a treat if you visit Belsay Hall as you’ll get a medieval castle and a regency style country house at the location.  Belsay Castle was built in the 14th century and comes complete with a rectangular pele tower with later additions, but the entire structure was largely abandoned in the early 19th century when Belsay Hall was built as a residence.  Belsay Hall is a regency style country house in Northumberland.  Both Belsay Hall and Belsay Castle are managed today by English Heritage and you can visit both on the same ticket (members get in for free).


History of Belsay Castle

Belsay Castle was built in the 14th century and is a three-storey pele tower with rounded turrets.  A manor house was added in1614 and a further west wing in 1711, but much of this was demolished in 1872.  The Castle was largely abandoned as a residence when Belsay Hall was built from 1810 to 1817.  Both Belsay Hall and Belsay Castle are Grade I listed buildings.

Belsay Hall is the first Greek Revival style building to be built in the country.  It replaces the original Belsay Castle as a residence on the property.  Belsay Hall was built for Sir Charles Monck (who was at the time residing at Belsay Castle), with a finely dressed stone known as Ashlar and finished with a Lakeland slate roof.  From the outside it looks as though the hall has two stories, although there are actually three stories – the third being a level for servants in the roof.

Both properties are maintained by English Heritage (free entry to members) and set within stunning grounds which are maintained superbly.  The house is maintained more or less in a state of arrested decay after the house was badly affected by dry rot in the 1970’s – the building has been secured against the elements to protect the style of the architecture with only necessary structural maintenance undertaken.  It is however still a stunning building.

Belsay Hall Gardens are in themselves a Grade I listed property and are beautiful – a mixture of formal and natural gardens, through which a walk is essential – we love the Quarry Garden on the walking route to Belsay Castle!

What to See At Belsay Castle

There are lots of things to see at Belsay Hall and Belsay Castle.  Be sure to allow plenty of time to visit and try and pick a nice day as the gardens here are truly glorious.

  • Belsay Hall Gardens are stunning, The gift shop will provide you with a map of the walking route through the gardens with explanatory notes on each element.
  • Visit the exterior of Belsay Hall. It’s the architecture that’s interesting here – as well as understanding the issues that the dry rot of the 1970s caused.  Check when and if the interior of Belsay Hall will be open.
  • Walk to Belsay Castle and explore the exterior of the original medieval castle.

Where is Belsay Castle

Belsay Castle and Hall is located in the village of Belsay, Northumberland, 14 miles from Newcastle Upon Tyne.

How to Get to Belsay Castle

It is difficult to get to Belsay Castle by public transport.  The closest train station is Morpeth, which is about 10 miles from Belsay.  To drive to Belsay Castle take the A696 North West from Newcastle Upon Tyne.  Free parking is available for visitors.

Belsay Castle Opening Times

Belsay Hall and castle can be visited by timed appointment with English Heritage.  You can book your tickets here – members get access for free but still need to book tickets.

Belsay Castle Entrance Fees

Entry to Belsay Castle costs £10 for adults and £6 for children (5-15 years).  Family tickets cost from £16.  Membership to English Heritage is quick and easy and members get in for free to this and hundreds of other historic buildings and properties in England.  Join now and save!

Berwick Castle Northumberland

Berwick Castle is the most northerly of the castles of Northumberland.  It was built in the 12th century by the Scottish King David, the English King Edward rebuilt it in 1296 and then it was returned to Scotland.  From this early history, it’s easy to understand that the castle is located on the border with Scotland!   The castle has also been sold – by the English to the Scottish to raise funds for the Third Crusade.  There is little that remains of the castle today, it has been in decline since the 16th century.  Stones from the castle have been used in the Holy Trinity Church and part of the Great Hall was demolished to create Berwick Railway Station – which you should visit to see a plaque detailing where King Edward took oaths of allegiance from Scottish nobles in 1296.  Check out other things to do in Berwick with our guide here.


History of Berwick Castle

Berwick Castle is unique amongst the castles in our top Northumberland Castles.  It was the only castle built originally by the Scots rather than the English.  In 1296 the English King Edward I rebuilt the castle, fortified the town of Berwick Upon Tweed and the castle was then returned to the Scots.  The castle changed hands – between the Scots and the English many, many times over the centuries, and the castle fell into disrepair and ruin from around 1590 onwards.  The primary remaining part of the castle itself is that of the White Wall – and a set of steep stairs known as the Breakneck Stairs.  The castle is maintained by English Heritage and entry is free.

What to See At Berwick Castle

It’s worth taking time to see the plaque at the Railway station in Berwick as we’ve mentioned and we recommend seeing the following

  • Walk a full circuit of the ramparts – there are interpretation boards which explain the defences and history.
  • Access the ramparts at the Berwick Upon Tweed Barracks – they’re well worth a visit in themselves and are also managed by English Heritage. (Entry is free for members – join here)

Where is Berwick Castle

Berwick Castle is next to the Berwick railway station and the ramparts are accessible at various points in the town.

How to Get to Berwick Castle

Follow directions to Berwick Upon Tweed Railways Station.

Berwick Castle Opening Times

Berwick Castle is open 24 hours a day.  We caution against visiting at dusk as the ground can be uneven.

Berwick Castle Entrance Fees

Entrance to Berwick Castle and the ramparts at Berwick is free.

Chillingham Castle Northumberland

Located in the village of Chillingham in Northumberland Chillingham Castle dates from medieval times.  Chillingham Castle is a Grade I listed building and is the home of Sir Edward Humphry Tyrell Wakefield, who married into the Grey family, who have held the castle since the 15th century.  The Castle remains in private ownership and visiting includes access to the grounds which are home to a rare breed of white cattle, the Chillingham cattle.


History of Chillingham Castle

The medieval Chillingham Castle was built in the 12th century and was fully fortified in 1344 when a “license to crenellate” was issued by the English king (so battlements were added at this point).  Chillingham was used often as a staging post for battles with the Scots, but as times changed and relations between the Scots and the English became more peaceful the use of the castle changed.  The moat was filled in, the battlements were converted to residential use, a library and banquet hall was built and the grounds were landscaped. The garden here is truly magnificent and it’s included in our guide to Northumberland’s Best Gardens.

During World War II Chillingham Castle was used as an army barracks and following the war the castle fell into disrepair until it was purchased by Sir Humphrey Wakefield in 1982.  Areas of the Castle are now open to the public and there are also holiday rentals available here too, so yes you can stay in parts of the castle.

What to See At Chillingham Castle

Visit Chillingham Castle’s gardens, grounds and woodland walks, which are open all year.  The design of the garden dates from 1828.

Inside Chillingham Castle, there are a huge range of things to see – from the dungeons to the armoury, the torture chamber to rooms designed as they were in the 13th century.  The highlights of Chillingham Castle are:we

  • The Armoury
  • The Still Room
  • The Medieval Courtyard
  • The Great Hall
  • The Roof Garden Lookout
  • The Edward I Room
  • The King James I Room
  • The Plaque Room Library
  • The Minstrel’s Hall

Where is Chillingham Castle

Chillingham Castle is in the village of Chillingham.  Chillingham Village is 3.7 miles east of Wooler.

How to Get to Chillingham Castle

Chillingham Castle is signposted from the A1 and is best reached by taking the Chatton/Wooler road, just north of the Purdy Lodge – Bamburgh junction.

Chillingham Castle Opening Times

Chillingham Castle is open from 25th July until 1st November.  The castle is open from 12 noon until 1700.  Prebooking entrance is not necessary.

Chillingham Castle Entrance Fees

Ticket prices to Chillingham Castle are £10.50 for adults, £6.50 for children under 16.  Family tickets for 2 adults and up to 3 children cost £26.00.

Dunstanburgh Castle, Northumberland

Dunstanburgh Castle was built in the 14th century as a fortification on the Northumberland Coast by the Earl of Lancaster primarily as a statement of wealth and influence.  It is a unique property in that the castle is built on land managed by the National Trust but the ruins themselves are managed by English Heritage.  This means, happily, that members of both organizations get in for free.  Dunstanburgh Castle played a key role in the Wars of the Roses and was maintained until the 15th century.  It was reported from the 16th century that it had fallen into decay.  Today little remains, several towers, and the outline of the castle provides for an excellent walk on the Northumberland Coast from the villages of Craster and Embleton.


History of Dunstanburgh Castle

There was originally an Iron Age fort on the site that Dunstanburgh Castle now occupies, although the current castle is the remains of a 14th-century building.  Built by the Earl of Lancaster it’s likely that he only ever visited once – he was opposed to King Edward II, ended up being captured at the Battle of Boroughbridge and was then executed and Dunstanburgh Castle passed to the Crown and then into the ownership of the Duchy of Lancaster.

While the castle was maintained and even reinforced up until the 15th century, as it was a strategic stronghold during the Wars of the Roses, it fell into disrepair by the 16th century.  As relations between the Scots and the English became more peaceful Dunstanburgh Castle was sold.  The Grey Family owned it for a few centuries, as it became increasingly ruined and it passed into the ownership of the state.  During World War II Dunstanburgh Castle was used as an observation post.  Today the castle is owned by the National Trust and managed by English Heritage, which means that members of both organizations get in for free.

What to See At Dunstanburgh Castle

One of the best things to see at Dunstanburgh Castle is the coastal walk to get there.  The castle is only accessible by footpath from the nearby villages of Craster or Embleton.  Most visit from Craster.  The trail is easy and the terrain is flat, but not particularly even.  The twin-towered keep is a magnificent entrance to the castle and affords excellent views from the top.  There are composting toilets at Dunstanburgh Castle, but no facilities apart from a very small gift shop.  Buy drinks and food in the village at Craster, including the famous smoked kippers.

Where is Dunstanburgh Castle

Dunstanburgh Castle can be found at Dunstanburgh Road, Craster, Alnwick, Northumberland, NE66 3TT.

How to Get to Dunstanburgh Castle

Dunstanburgh Castle is found 8 miles north-east of Alnwick and on footpaths from Craster or Embleton.Park in the Council Car Park in Craster (chargeable, take coins).  Buses to Dunstanburgh are the Arriva service X18 Travelsure 418. Take the bus to Craster and take the coast walk for 1.3 miles. The nearest train stations to Dunstanburgh are Chathill, not Sunday, 5 miles from Embleton, 7 miles from Castle; Alnmouth, 7 miles from Craster, 8 1⁄4 miles from Castle. Check train times and buy tickets here.

Dunstanburgh Castle Opening Times

Dunstanburgh Castle entrances MUST be pre-booked. You can do this here. 

Dunstanburgh Castle Entrance Fees

Entry to Dunstanburgh Castle costs £5.90 for adults and £3.50 for children up to the age of 17.  Family tickets from £15.30.  English Heritage members get access for free – join here. National Trust members also get free entry to Dunstanburgh Castle – join the National Trust here.

Etal Castle Northumberland

Etal Castle Northumberland was built about 1341 by Robert Manners.  It originally comprised a gatehouse, corner tower and a residential tower protected by a curtain wall.  Etal Castle has a long history of being involved in the border wars of Scotland and England.  It became part of the border defences in 1547 but then was abandoned as a military fortification in 1603.  Etal was used as a domestic dwelling until the 18th century and then fell into ruin.  Today, Etal Castle is owned by the Joicey family but is managed by English Heritage.


A Brief History of Etal Castle

Although the Manners family had owned the manor in Etal since 1232 a license to crenellate – or fortify was not granted until 1341 when Robert Manners began to build defences against the threat from Scotland.  The oldest part of the structure of Etal Castle was the residential tower and by 1350 the tower was surrounded by a manor, mills, lime kilns and coal mines.  In the 16th century, the Manners family moved away and left the castle in the stewardship of the Collingwood family.   1513 saw King James I of Scotland taking the castle, and its restoration to the English following the Battle of Flodden the following month.  Over the next 30 years, the castle fell into ruin and was purchased by the English Crown in 1547.  By the time King James VI of Scotland inherited the English crown in 1603 the castle had lost military value and became a private residence.  By the 18th century, it ceased to be a residence and was simply a picturesque ruin.  Today Etal Castle is managed by English Heritage and is a Grade I listed monument.

What to See At Etal Castle

You’ll gain the most from visiting the exhibition here that details the Battle of Flodden (before you visit Flodden) – the grounds of Etal Castle are a pleasant place to have a picnic too.

Where is Etal Castle

Etal Castle is in the village of Etal, Northumberland, which is 10 miles south-west of Berwick.

How to Get to Etal Castle

Follow signs from Berwick, or drive to the village of Etal Northumberland.  There is parking at the entrance. The closest train station to Etal is Berwick, which is 10 miles away.  Bus services are run by Glen Valley/Perrymans – the service number 267 Berwick-upon-Tweed – Wooler. Check train times and buy tickets here.

Etal Castle Opening Times

Etal Castle is open from Wednesday to Sunday, but visiting times must be pre-booked here.

Etal Castle Entrance Fees

Entry to Etal Castle is free to English Heritage Members (Join here now).  Entry charges for non-members are £5.90 for adults, £3.50 for Children, family tickets from £15.30.

Lindisfarne Castle Northumberland

Lindisfarne Castle not only was a defence in the border wars between England and Scotland but also came under attack from the Vikings too!  The castle, which is managed by the National Trust is found on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne off the Northumberland Coast.  The castle has changed hands many times over the years, been sketched by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and then came into the private ownership of a published magnate in 1901, Edward Hudson, who then commission the architect Edward Lutyens to redesign the castle as a private residence.  Famous garden designer Gertrude Jekyll designed the walled garden.


History of Lindisfarne Castle

Lindisfarne Castle was built in 1550 as a defence of the island against the Scots and the Vikings.  Many of the stones used in the construction of the castle came from the recently ruined Lindisfarne Priory.  A fort built below the castle on Beblowe Crag between the years 1570 and 1572 forms the basis of the current castle.  In a similar fashion to that of Etal Castle, when King James unified the thrones of Scotland and England the requirement for Lindisfarne Castle as a military stronghold declined.  Lindisfarne Castle was occupied for a few days in the 18th century by Jacobite rebels.  The castle has been used as a coastguard lookout and a tourist attraction until it was bought by Edward Hudson in 1901.  Architect Edward Lutyens redesigned the castle as a private residence alongside Gertrude Jeykll in the gardens.  The National Trust has managed Lindisfarne Castle since 1944 along with the gardens and the nearby Lime Kilns.

What to See At Lindisfarne Castle

When the interior of Lindisfarne Castle is open there are unparalleled views from the higher points of the castle and the interior contains exhibits relating to the history of the castle and its uses over the centuries.

Lindisfarne Castle may be currently closed, but you can still visit Holy Island itself, explore what else to do on Holy Island in our guide here.

Where is Lindisfarne Castle

Lindisfarne Castle is located on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne.  The castle is a 15-minute walk from the village and the entranceway into the castle is steep.

How to Get to Lindisfarne Castle

The easiest way to get to Lindisfarne Castle is to drive.  Take the A1 to the Beal crossroads – 8 miles south of Berwick upon Tweed.  This crossroads is near to the Lindisfarne Inn (a good option to stay if you don’t want to stay on Holy Island) and is signed for Holy Island.  The causeway is approximately 1.8 miles (2.9 kilometres) from the crossroads.  The causeway itself is one mile long (1.6 kilometres) and parking for Holy Island, on the island is 2.2 miles (3.5 kilometres) from the end of the causeway.  We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to check the Holy Island Tides

Parking on Holy Island

As most people visit Holy island by car, Holy Island parking can become full. Day visitors to Holy Island also all have to access via the causeway and so that also causes some congestion.  A daily parking ticket bought here can also be used in Berwick, Wooler and Seahouses.   There is a minibus that goes from this car park to the castle, which is about one mile away.

Parking costs on Holy Island are as follows:

  • 3 hours £3.50
  • 24 hours £5.50
  • 48 hours £11
  • 72 hours £16.50

If you’re planning to visit Holy Island by bus then you’ll need the 505 or 515 services that run between Newcastle Upon Tyne and Berwick Upon Tweed.  They stop at Beal crossroads on request – so ask the driver then you get on.  From Beal crossroads, it’s a 4.8 mile (7.7 kilometres) walk to the village on Holy Island, including crossing the causeway which is a mile long (1.6 kilometres).  The local 477 bus route runs from Berwick Upon Tweed station during the summer, but you must check the timetables.  There is also a Holy Island Shuttle Bus that runs to Holy Island, this is run by a local taxi company and again, please check, it is an intermittent service and depends upon demand.  There are details here, but it’s best to call them to find our details for when you plan to visit.

Lindisfarne Castle Opening Times

Normally, National Trust Lindisfarne Castle opening times vary depending on the tides and are usually either 1000 until 1500 or 1200 until 1700, you can check opening times here.

Lindisfarne Castle Entrance Fees

Entrance fees to Lindisfarne Castle are normally £9 for Adults and £4.50 for Children.  Family tickets cost £22.50. National Trust Members are free.

Norham Castle Northumberland

Blink and you might miss Norham Castle – or rather you have to go out of your way to find it, but it’s a glorious surprise all the same.  Managed by English Heritage, but free to enter for all it’s well worth downloading the free to download audio guide of the castle.  Norham Castle is situated on the River Tweed and on the border of England and Scotland.  It was founded in 1121 to protect the bishopric of Northumberland from the Scots.  King David I of Scotland captured it in 1136 and so began a rather unstable period when the castle passed between conquerors.  There’s little left today, but ruined walls and the hint of history, but it is atmospheric all the same and you’ll likely see few visitors here.  The audio guide is well worth downloading, and so is visiting on a good weather day!


History of Norham Castle

Once one of the most important border strongholds Norham Castle is set on a high grassy mound overlooking a ford over the River Tweed.  Its history includes many attacks by the Scots, it has been besieged 13 times, once by Robert the Bruce for almost a year!

The best history of Norham Castle is understood as you are walking around.  We recommend downloading the audio tour – it’s free – from English Heritage before you get to the Castle.  The total tour lasts around 20 minutes and can be paused.

What to See At Norham Castle

Walk around Norham Castle to the accompaniment of the free audio guide from English Heritage and you’ll see history come to life at Norham.  The setting of the castle above the River Tweed is nowadays idyllic, but it’s easy to picture the fierce history that this important border castle once had.

Where is Norham Castle

Northam Castle is found in Norham Village, 6 miles south of Berwick Upon Tweed.  Take the A698, then the B640 and follow the signposts.

How to Get to Norham Castle

It is easiest to drive to Norham Castle, take the A698 from Berwick Upon Tweed and follow the signs to the B6470 towards Norham.  The closest train station to Norham Castle is Berwick Upon Tweed.  Buses run from Berwick Upon Tweed railway station to Galashiels, get off at Norham.  Car parking is signposted at the castle. Check train times and buy tickets here.

Norham Castle Opening Times

Norham Castle opening times differ depending on the time of year (gates are locked when it is closed).  But usually, Norham Castle is open 1000 until 1700 from Thursday until Sunday inclusive.

Norham Castle Entrance Fees

Entrance to Norham Castle is free.

Prudhoe Castle, Northumberland

Prudhoe Castle is located on the northern bank of the River Tyne in Northumberland.  The first castle here was a motte and bailey type and dates from the middle of the 11th century.  The history of the castle has been dominated by two families, the Umfravilles who were granted the barony of the area by Henry I and then, when the last of the Umfraville line died out, the Percys.  A glorious entry to Prudhoe Castle takes you past a millpond and through a gatehouse.  The inner wards of the castle are surprisingly intact and rather lovely to explore.


History of Prudhoe Castle

Prudhoe Castle was originally built as one of a series of castles by the Normans following the 1066 Norman Conquest of England and the castle was continuously occupied for more than 900 years.  It’s been home to the Umfraville and Percy families and is the only castle in Northumberland not to fall to the Scots.

While the first castle here at Prudhoe has been shown to be a motte and bailey construct from the 11th century, the stone castle was likely built in the 12th century.  It was during the ownership of the castle by the Percy family (the widow of the last Umfraville married Henry Percy, the first earl of Northumberland), that they added a great hall to the castle.  The principal seat of the Percys was Alnwick Castle and Prudhoe was likely rented out to tenants.  It wasn’t used as a residence after the 1660s and is reported to have been in a “ruinous state” in 1776.  The Percys carried out major repairs between 1808 and 1817 and it was at this time that the Georgian Mansion replaces the old buildings inside the walls.  In 1966 the Castle was given to the Crown and is now managed by English Heritage.

What to See At Prudhoe Castle

Prudhoe Castle is a great place to take a picnic.  There are many sheltered spots within the walls to take a break.  Be sure not to miss

  • The Prudhoe Castle Keep
  • The Great Hall at Prudhoe Castle
  • The Georgian Mansion inside Prudhoe Castle

Where is Prudhoe Castle

Prudhoe Castle is in Prudhoe, take the A695 and then a minor signposted road to the castle.

How to Get to Prudhoe Castle

Follow directions to Prudhoe and take the minor road signposted for Prudhoe Castle.  Free car parking is available just 70 metres from the castle entrance.  The closest train station to Prudhoe Castle is Prudhoe, less than a quarter of a mile away.    Go North East buses 10, 11A, 686 all go to Prudhoe. Check train times and buy tickets here.

Prudhoe Castle Opening Times

You can check times to enter Prudhoe Castle here

Prudhoe Castle Entrance Fees

English Heritage Members get free entrance to Prudhoe Castle (you can join here), non-members prices for entry are adults £6.90, children £4.10.  Family tickets cost £17.90.

Warkworth Castle Northumberland

Warkworth Castle is located in the glorious village of Warkworth in Northumberland.  Both the castle and the village are found in a loop in the River Coquet which meanders its way to the North Sea close by.  The castle has remains from the 13th century, a gatehouse from the 15th century and really is a rather magnificent ruin, with some well-maintained areas.  There are four towers in a rather irregular design and the castle is built on top of a mound (motte).


History of Warkworth Castle

First documented in a charter from 1157-1164, Warkworth Castle was originally a timber castle that was considered “feeble”.  It was improved upon and the remains seen today date from the 13th and 15th centuries.  The keep was added in the late 14th century and when the last Percy early died in 1670 the castle went to Hugh Smithson, who married into an indirect line of the Percy family.  He then adopted the Percy name and founded the Dukes of Northumberland, whose line the castle then descended to today.  The castle was refurbished in the 19th century and has been managed by English Heritage since 1984.

What to See At Warkworth Castle

The Castle Walls at Warkworth Castle offer stunning views over the River Coquet and over the Northumberland Coast.  Don’t miss the various rooms in the cross-shaped keep.  When open be sure to visit the Hermitage, a short walk and boat ride away from the castle (separate entrance fees apply, and it’s also free to English Heritage members).  Pick up the audio tour to understand more about Warkworth Castle and its history and don’t miss

  • The Cross-Shaped Keep – built more than 600 years ago.
  • Spot the often carved lion badge – the emblem of the Percy family throughout the Castle.
  • Visit the Duke’s Rooms (if open) – restored by the Percys in the 1850s- some of the gold patterned leather that once lined the walls still remains.
  • Visit the Hermitage when open and see this private chapel for the Percy Family, a lovely walk up the river, and then a free boat ride across.

Where is Warkworth Castle

Warkworth Castle is on the outskirts of the village of Warkworth, which is 7.5 miles south of Alnwick.

How to Get to Warkworth Castle

Take the A1068 from Alnwick southbound.  Parking is available at the castle itself.  Parking is free for members although charges may apply for non-members.  There is additional parking at the beach in Warkworth.  The closest train station to Warkworth Castle is Alnmouth, which is 3.5 miles away – and which is a lovely walk – it’s part of the Northumberland Coastal Walk.  Warkworth Castle is served by the Arriva X18 bus between Newcastle and Alnwick & the Travelsure 472 bus. Check train times and buy tickets here.

Warkworth Castle Opening Times

Warkworth Castle is open, although areas of the keep may be closed off.  The Castle is open from 1000 until 1700. 

Warkworth Castle Entrance Fees

Adult entry fees to Warkworth Castle are £7.90, Children’s entry fees are £4.70 and family tickets are available from £12.60.  English Heritage Members get free entry to Warkworth Castle – you can join here.

Travel Tips for Exploring Northumberland

Final words on the 12 most magnificent castles to visit in Northumberland

From a castle on an island in the North Sea to castles perched on the edge of some of England’s most stunning countryside, Northumberland has more castles than any other county in England.  The castles of England’s most northerly county, Northumberland are quite simply magnificent, have some incredible histories within their walls and your challenge will not be just to visit them once but to not want to return time after time.

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