lnwick Castle in Northumberland started its life as a motte and bailey style fort that was built just after the Norman Conquest by Gilbert Tyson a supporteer of William the Conqueror who may reused the site of an earlier Saxon fortification. The castle passed into the hands of Ivo de Vesci in 1096 through the marriage of Gilbert's grandaughter. Ivo de Vesci constructed a shell keep on top of the motte and laid out the two baileys to the east and west. In 1138 the castle passed into the hands of Eustace fitz John who married the only daughter of Ivo de Vesci. Under the control of Eustace and later his son William the castle's fortifications were improved to such an extent that it survived an attack by William the Lion, King of Scotland in 1172. When the Scottish king again attacked the castle in 1174 he was captured by the English and later signed a treaty to regain his freedom.

In 1309 Alnwick Castle was purchased by Sir Henry de Percy from Anthony Bek, the Bishop of Durham. Henry was already a wealthy landowner in Yorkshire and the addition of the estates in Northumberland made his family one of the most important in England. The Percy family were involved in incessant wars with the Scots. A large amount of rebuilding work then took place under the direction of Henry and his son, including the keep with seven sem-circular towers enclosing a small court. New gatehouses to protect the entrances and several towers around the two outer baileys were also constructed.

In 1433/4 King Henry VI granted the town of Alnwick a licence to be enclosed in a wall to help protect it from attack by the Scots. But raising funds to pay for the work proved difficult and it took many years before it was complete. Finally the wall was completed and was protected by four gates, Bondgate, Clayport, Pottergate and Narrowgate. Bondgate is the only gate that remains.

In the middle of the nineteenth century Alnwick Castle was extensively restored under the direction of two architects, Luigi Canina and Anthony Salvin. Salvin was responsible for the restoration of many castles including Warwick Castle. The exterior of the castle was skillfully restored without changing it too much while the interior was completely remodelled.

Alnwick Castle was used as a location for Hogwarts in the Harry Potter film Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

Alnwick Castle Key Facts
CountyNorthumberland (15 castles)
DirectionsLocated at the north of the historic town of Alnwick 34 miles to the north of Newcastle upon Tyne on the A1.
OwnershipBaronial castle
RemainsExcellent remains
Access to siteOnly open at certain times
TimeRef Rating
TimeRef Comments
A fantastic castle to visit. At the entrance is the huge tree-house and extensive gardens; the central feature being the waterfall. For the kids there is a water-park so take a change of clothes. The castle is complete and a tour of the state appartments can be made.

1093 Nov 13  Battle of Alnwick
 Malcolm III, the king of Scotland, and his son Edward were both killed at the battle of Alnwick in Northumberland. Malcolm had invaded England after William II had made moves to take more control over Cumbria and had fortified Carlisle. 
 Nov 13  Donald Bane becomes king of Scotland
 After Malcolm III and his second son Edward were killed near Alnwick Donald, Malcolm's brother, became the king of Scotland. Malcolm's family, including Edgar, were forced into exiled in England. 
1096   Building work on Alnwick castle begins
 Building work on Alnwick castle began. 
1174 Jun 13  The Battle of Alnwick
 William I, king of Scotland invaded England to help fight in the baronial rebellion against Henry II. The Scottish King attacked the castle at Prudhoe but was unable to capture it. William was captured at the Battle of Alnwick and the rebellion came to an end. He was transported to Falaise in Normandy where he would later sign a peace treaty.

Episode: Rebellion against Henry II  
 Dec 8  William I of Scotland signs Treaty of Falaise
 Captured by the English, William of Scotland was forced to sign the Treaty of Falaise. The treaty made Scotland a feudal possession of England and William and his nobles swore fealty to Henry II. William had to hand over several castles to the English in return for his freedom. One of these was Stirling Castle.This treaty was overruled by Richard I in return for funds paid by Scotland that Richard needed for his crusade in 1189.[1] 
1462 Oct 25  Queen Margaret invades
 Queen Margaret landed near Bamburgh Castle on the Northumbrian coast with a small army. The main castles in the area, Alnwick, Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh surrendered to the Queen.[2]

Episode: Wars of the Roses  
 Dec  Yorkists take back control of Northumbrian castles
 The Earl of Warwick was put in charge of capturing the castles from the Lancastrian garrisons. Edward had to stay at Durham to recover from a bout of the measles. The castles were not attacked but cut off from supplies to starve the soldiers out. Just before the new year the Lancastrian soldiers surrendered and the Yorkists took control of Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh Castles. Warwick used the castle at Warkworth as his base while he monitored the seiges at the other castles. The seige of Alnwick Castle continued into January.[3]

Episode: Wars of the Roses  
1463 Jan 6  Alnwick Castle surrenders to the Yorkists
 The Lancastrians inside Alnwick Castle were short of supplies so an army from Scotland under the control of George Douglas, the 4th Earl of Angus marched down to assist. When the Scottish army arrived at the castle, the Yorkists who were beseiging the castle withdrew allowing many of those inside to escape. Douglas did not attack the Yorkists but turned with the rescued men back to Scotland. The Yorkists returned to the castle and those Lancastrians that had not been able to escape surrendered.[3]

Episode: Wars of the Roses  
 Mar  Northumbrian castles fall to Lancastrians
 Sir Ralph Percy, the constable in charge of Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh castles, defected and allowed the Lancastrians to take control. Alnwick Castle fell to the Lancastrians shortly afterwards.

Episode: Wars of the Roses  
 May  Alnwick Castle in Lancastrian hands
 Alnwick Castle was captured by the Lancastrians.[4]

Episode: Wars of the Roses  
1464 Jun 23  Alnwick Castle Surrenders to Warwick
 After the Lancastrians were defeated at the Battle of Hexham their power in Northumberland was at an end. The Earl of Warwick accepted the surrender of Alnwick Castle on June 23rd. Dunstanburgh Castle surrendered shortly afterwards. The seige at Bamburgh Castle was brought to an end with the use of cannons, tthe first castle to fall in such a way.[3]

Episode: Wars of the Roses  


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