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Historic England Research Records

Bamburgh Castle

Hob Uid: 7536
Location :
Northumberland
Bamburgh
Grid Ref : NU1832035080
Summary : Very large 12th century 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 the 12th century. Ruinous by 1704 it was extensively restored between 1894 and 1904 and divided into apartments. Original 12th century 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 monument is also visible as extant buildings, upstanding structures and earthworks on air photographs mapped as part of the North East Coast Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Survey.It is still extant and in very good conditions on the latest 2005 NMRC oblique photography.
More information : (NU183351) Bamburgh Castle (NR)
(NU18183521) St Oswald's Gate (NR) (1)

History and description of the castle. (2)

For Mediaeval remains see illustrations. (3)

Well preserved. On the South-East side are the remains of a bank which, together with the natural cliffs, appears to have formed a dry ditch between the barbican and the gatehouse, Surveyed at 1:2500. (4)

Bamburgh Castle. Largely inhabited, except for ruins. Imosing landmark on long narrow outcrop of rock above the beach. A 12th century 3-storeyed keep, battlemented, with thick crude vaulting on the ground floor, and cross-vaults above on round arches, and an apsidal West end. Three baileys with gatehouses, Norman and Mediaeval. Acquired by Lord Crewe in 1704 (all then in ruins), and left to charities at his death. Made habitable circa 1757 by Dr Sharp, (trustee), who used the buildings for schooling, an infirmary, a granary and a lighthouse. The whole was drastically restored in 1890. Ruins of 12th century apsidal chapel. (5)

Limited excavations in the castle grounds between 1971-4 suggest that the area has been in continuous occupation since the late pre-Roman Iron Age. (6)

Reference to the 1971 excavations. (7)

A geophysical survey has been undertaken in the area between the keep and St peter's Chapel. Linear features, probably buildings, were noted, and found to be on different alignments to the castle buildings. These are interpretted as being Saxon in origin.Examination beneath the Chapel also located features predating the construction of the chapel, but too indeterminate to identify. (8)

Built on the site of a Northumbrian defended site in 1095. Keep mentioned in 1164, building work done 1220-37. Beseiged 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. (9)

History of the castle. (10)

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 bewtween Henry III and Simon de Montfort, it was the only royal castle to remain consistently loyal to the King. (11)

A fragment of what was formerly thought to be a large cross-head was found in the castle in the late 19th century. The fragment is best interpretted as part of the arm of a stone chair dating to 775-824. (12)

The monument is also visible as extant buildings, upstanding structures and earthworks on air photographs mapped as part of the North East Coast Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment Survey.
It is still extant and in very good conditions on the latest 2005 NMRC oblique photography.
(13-14)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : Ordnance Survey Map (Scale / Date)
Source details : OS 1:2500 1966
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 2
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Bamburgh Castle Official Guide 1968 (Historical sections revised B Hope-Taylor)
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 11
Source : The history of the King's Works, volume 2 : the Middle Ages
Source details :
Page(s) : 554-8
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 12
Source : Corpus of Anglo-Saxon stone sculpture, volume 1 : County Durham and Northumberland
Source details :
Page(s) : 162
Figs. : 18
Plates : 158
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 13
Source : Oblique aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR NU 1835/44 (20422/15) 17-AUG-2005
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 14
Source : Oblique aerial photograph reference number
Source details : NMR NU 1835/40 (20431/12) 17-AUG-2005
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 3
Source : Northumberland County History
Source details : 1893 (E Bateson)
Page(s) : 57
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1
Source Number : 4
Source : Field Investigators Comments
Source details : F1 DS 06-Nov-1968
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 5
Source : List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest
Source details : MHLG (Prov List) Belford RD, Northum, May 1969, p3
Page(s) :
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :
Source Number : 6
Source : Yeavering : an Anglo-British centre of early Northumbria
Source details :
Page(s) : 292, 301-2, 370, 371
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : no.7
Source Number : 7
Source : Archaeology in Northumberland: [annual newsletter]
Source details : (P Wood and G Young)
Page(s) : 32-3
Figs. : PLAN
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1997-8
Source Number : 8
Source : Council for British Archaeology Group 3: Archaeological newsbulletin for Northumberland, Cumberland, Durham, Westmorland and Lancashire-north-of-the-sands
Source details :
Page(s) : 9
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : 1, 1972
Source Number : 9
Source : Castellarium anglicanum : an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the Islands. Volume II : Norfolk-Yorkshire and the islands
Source details :
Page(s) : 326
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) : Feb-83
Source Number : 10
Source : Bastions and Belligerents: Medieval Strongholds in Northumberland
Source details :
Page(s) : 136-142
Figs. :
Plates :
Vol(s) :

Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : Iron Age
Display Date : Iron Age
Monument End Date : 43
Monument Start Date : -800
Monument Type : Enclosed Settlement, Occupation Site
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Roman
Display Date : Roman
Monument End Date : 410
Monument Start Date : 43
Monument Type : Occupation Site, Beacon, Enclosed Settlement
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit
Monument Period Name : Early Medieval
Display Date : Early Medieval
Monument End Date : 1066
Monument Start Date : 410
Monument Type : Occupation Site, Enclosed Settlement, Church, Royal Palace, Shrine, Carved Stone
Evidence : Sub Surface Deposit, Documentary Evidence, Find
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : C12
Monument End Date : 1199
Monument Start Date : 1100
Monument Type : Castle, Keep, Tower, Gatehouse, Chapel, Vault
Evidence : Extant Building, Earthwork
Monument Period Name : Medieval
Display Date : Medieval
Monument End Date : 1540
Monument Start Date : 1100
Monument Type : Castle, Curtain Wall, Clock Tower
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Circa 1757
Monument End Date : 1777
Monument Start Date : 1737
Monument Type : Castle, Infirmary, Granary, Lighthouse, School
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : C19
Monument End Date : 1900
Monument Start Date : 1801
Monument Type : Gatehouse, Apartment
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : Late C19
Monument End Date : 1900
Monument Start Date : 1867
Monument Type : Castle, Stable
Evidence : Extant Building
Monument Period Name : Post Medieval
Display Date : 1894-1904
Monument End Date : 1904
Monument Start Date : 1894
Monument Type : Castle
Evidence : Extant Building

Components and Objects:
Period : Early Medieval
Component Monument Type : Occupation Site, Enclosed Settlement, Church, Royal Palace, Shrine, Carved Stone
Object Type : CHAIR
Object Material : Sandstone

Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : NBR Index Number
External Cross Reference Number : 79100
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : Listed Building List Entry Legacy Uid
External Cross Reference Number : 237848
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : ViewFinder
External Cross Reference Number : AA59/03160
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Northumberland)
External Cross Reference Number : 5094
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Northumberland)
External Cross Reference Number : 5089
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : NBR Index Number
External Cross Reference Number : 110930
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : NU 13 NE 4
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : WHITLEY MK V BD233
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : WHITLEY MK V T4151
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : JU88
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : DO217 E-4 U5+BD
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : ME110D M8+?B
Relationship type : General association

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, BAMBURGH CASTLE, WEST WARD
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1960-01-01
End Date : 1969-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, FIELD OBSERVATION ON NU 13 NE 3
Activity type : FIELD OBSERVATION (VISUAL ASSESSMENT)
Start Date : 1968-11-06
End Date : 1968-11-06
Associated Activities : Primary, BAMBURGH CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 1970-01-01
End Date : 1974-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, INVESTIGATION BY RCHME/EH ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Activity type : ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1995-11-14
End Date : 1995-11-14
Associated Activities : Primary, BAMBURGH CASTLE (INNER WARD)
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1997-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, BAMBURGH CASTLE (CHAPEL OF ST PETER)
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1997-01-01
End Date : 1997-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, INNER WARD, BAMBURGH CASTLE
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 1999-01-01
End Date : 2000-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ST OSWALD'S GATE, BAMBURGH CASTLE
Activity type : EXCAVATION
Start Date : 2000-01-01
End Date : 2000-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ENGLISH HERITAGE: NORTH EAST COAST NMP RAPID COASTAL ZONE ASSESSMENT SURVEY
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 2007-03-01
End Date : 2008-07-22
Associated Activities : Primary, BAMBURGH CASTLE (TIME TEAM)
Activity type : EVALUATION
Start Date : 2010-01-01
End Date : 2010-12-31