Bewcastle Castle
Castle Bewcastle Cumbria

Bewcastle Castle

Castle In Bewcastle, Cumbria

The remaining gatehouse and garderobe of Bewcastle Castle which was built in the 14th century by one of Edward III's generals.

A place called Bewcastle must have been named after a castle so finding a castle in Bewcastle called Bewcastle Castle was no suprise!

It's now in a ruinous state, with only two walls remaining, however it is worth exploring these remains which have been witness to a fascinating history.

Before the castle was built, the Romans had occupied the area and had built the Roman fort of Ravenna Cosmography, close to the current location of the castle. The fort was dedicated to Cocidus, a deity who was worshipped in northern Britannia. The fort was unusual in shape, it was hexagonal opposed to the regular 'playing card' rectangular shape.

However, the fort was largely destroyed in 343 AD when Hadrian's Wall was overrun by the tribes north of the wall which the Romans referred to as 'Barbarians'. In 367 AD it was further destroyed and abandoned.

In 1092, almost 30 years after the Norman Conquest of England, Cumberland was annexed by the Norman King William (Rufus) II of England. Before the Norman arrival, Cumberland was a part of the Kingdom of Scotland. William built castles along the border to protect it from any Scottish attacks.

It was around this time that the original castle was built. Since the Norman invasion in 1066, the adaption of Roman forts into castles was favoured, which is why many castles are close to the sites of old Roman forts. Stones from the old forts were used on parts of the castle.

The original castle was destroyed in 1173 with the castle we see today being built between 1361 and 71 by John de Strivelyn, one of Edward III's generals. The entrance had a large stone carved with the de Strivelyns coat of arms on. This stone disappeared around 1823 but can be seen today on the wall of the barn at Demense Farm. The castle was abandoned in 1401 when the occupants were taken prisoner by the Scots.

By the early 15th century it had decayed. Edward IV granted it to his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester the future Richard III as a gift. It's at this time that the buildings were repaired, and the gatehouse is likely to have been added.

From the late 15th century, the castle was in the hands of the Musgrave family. In 1602 after being accused of harbouring thieves in the castle, Thomas Musgrave, keeper of Bewcastle for Elizabeth I, is said to have had a duel at Canonbie Holm with Lancelot Carleton to settle the dispute. Unfortunately the outcome of the duel- or whether it actually went ahead is unknown.

The castle was destroyed for a second time by Oliver Cromwell in 1641, after which much of the stone was taken for local buildings. The castle was left in a state of ruin by the 17th century.

Despite this, much of the gatehouse and garderobe remain. Luckily, in 1968 a project by a London property company with the intentions of selling parts to Americans failed.

Bewcastle feels like a place which has been almost lost in time, you get a real sense of what life was like for the locals living here centuries ago in the once mighty castle. It is a hidden gem, especially those seeking somewhere rich in history with stories to tell. A small museum can be found next to the church in the churchyard for more on the fascinating history of Bewcastle.

The castle is on private land, however there is a gate which allows access for the public to visit and enjoy these ruins.

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How To Find Bewcastle Castle

Where Is Bewcastle Castle?

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55.064777, -2.681615

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Where To Park For Bewcastle Castle?

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55.063376, 55.063376

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Parking is free, space for a small number of cars can be found in front of the churchyard. Although parking is limited, getting parked isn’t an issue, although it is advised to avoid church service times.

Contributed by Jonny Fraser

I enjoy getting out as much as I can, mainly to visit historical sites, this includes getting as much use as possible out of my English Heritage membership. I'm extremely passionate about history, especially anything to do with local history. Although I visit anywhere with history, I enjoy visiting lesser known sites and getting their histories told.

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Jonny Fraser

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Bewcastle Castle was listed in Castle // Cumbria // Bewcastle