Norham Castle
Castle Berwick Upon Tweed Northumberland

Norham Castle

Castle In Berwick Upon Tweed, Northumberland

A 12th century castle that saw plenty of action during the wars between England and Scotland.

I can't believe this is the first time we have actually visited this beauty of a ruin, even though we have ventured up to the top of Northumberland on many occasion.

There are two entrances to the Norham Castle grounds and we parked at the south end which is on a rise, so the size of the tower is quite deceiving as it's hidden by the slope.

But once you enter the grounds, the sheer size of the tower and what remains after 900 years of degradation and countless wars is impressive.

As with all castles on the border, they were involved in an innumerable amount of skirmishes between the English and Scottish. Fortunately we have our unofficial castle correspondent Sandra to give us the full deets.

Norham Castle was built by Ranulph Flambard, who was Bishop of Durham from 1099 until 1128. The Bishops of Durham were given many powers by the Crown during this time and in return, they protected the English border. The orders for construction of the castle were given in 1121.

Norham, along with Berwick and Wark castles, was an essential part of the defence of the borders, due to its proximity to Scotland. Consequently it was besieged at least 13 times, captured 4 times and was the castle most frequently attacked by the Scots. The most important event in Norham's history took place in May 1291.

Anthony Beck, the Bishop of Durham entertained King Edward I and his advisors at the castle while they judged 13 competitors for the Scottish throne. This event was known as 'The Great Cause'. There was no obvious heir to the Scottish throne at this time, after the deaths of Alexander III and his granddaughter Margaret.

This left the vacancy open and Edward I was quick to step in and help with the decision of who should be the next monarch. However, he took it too far and claimed he should be recognised as Scotland's feudal overlord and continued to assert his power over Scotland.

This reignited the dormant civil wars in the borders and consequently Norham was besieged 4 times between 1318 and 1327. After this period of sieges, there was relative peace at the castle until the late 1400s. In 1497, James IV of Scotland bombarded the castle with artillery, including Mons Meg, the huge siege gun now on display at Edinburgh Castle.

However, among the worst sieges on the castle was in 1513, when King James IV invaded for the second time and the castle was captured and badly damaged. James IV was killed at the Battle of Flodden only 3 weeks later and the castle was reclaimed by the English.

There was extensive damage to the castle following James IV's attack. Large scale rebuilding quickly followed, which repaired the 1513 damage and modernised the castle's defences. Most of what stands today was built around this time in the early 1500s.

In 1559, the castle passed back to the Crown when Cuthbert Tunstall, the Bishop of Durham refused to take the 'Oath of Supremacy' meaning he would not acknowledge Elizabeth I as the Head of the church, due to her protestant beliefs.

Elizabeth took the castle and maintained it for most of her reign until 1596. After this, she refused to spend any more money on it, as it had fallen into decay, and after the union of the crowns in 1603, it was deemed unnecessary.

It had a number of owners over the years, but passed into state care in 1923.

It is now managed by the English Heritage.

This is the remnants of the spiral staircase that gave access to all floors in the tower.

  Add To Bucket List   I Have Visited This Place

Get 2 points if you have visited this place. Already visited by 86 VIPs.

Login to the VIP area to add places to your bucket list, mark them as visited and more importantly see where you rank on the league table.

How To Find Norham Castle

Where Is Norham Castle?

Show Place On Google Maps

Lat / Long

55.721769, -2.150742

What three words


Where To Park For Norham Castle?

There are two entrances to the castle with parking at each location.

Contributed by Simon Hawkins

Thanks for checking out this place on the Fabulous North! I do enjoy a wander out in to the countryside trying to find hidden gems that not many people know about. You can't beat a rogue pele tower up a remote hill, a mysterious stone circle or a stunning waterfall secluded in a forest.

More Places from Simon
Simon Hawkins

More Places In Berwick Upon Tweed

Find more fabulous places in Berwick Upon Tweed, Northumberland and if you know of a place we haven't listed, then let us know.

The Loovre
The Loovre
Building Berwick Upon Tweed Northumberland

Once a public loo, now a tiny holiday home in the heart of Berwick.

Berwick Elizabethan Town Walls
Berwick Elizabethan Town Walls
Military Berwick Upon Tweed Northumberland

Defensive walls built in the 16th century, now managed by English Heritage.

Royal Border Bridge
Royal Border Bridge
Bridge Berwick Upon Tweed Northumberland

A Grade I listed railway viaduct spanning the River Tweed at Berwick and built by Robert Stephenson.

More Castles

So this castle wasn't enough and you want more? Don't worry we have you covered.

Floors Castle
Floors Castle
Castle Kelso Borders

Stunning castle built in 1721, set in a 21,000 hectare estate.

Dunbar Castle
Dunbar Castle
Castle Dunbar Borders

One of Scotland's strongest fortresses sitting in a prominent position overlooking the harbour of Dunbar.

Hylton Castle
Hylton Castle
Castle Sunderland Tyne And Wear

14th century gatehouse tower built by Sir William Hylton.

Never Miss A Fabulous Place

If you are afraid of missing out on all the fabulous places we post, or just want to be the first to know, then sign up to the Fabulous North.

Each week we will email you all the brand new places that we visit.

Sign Up To Alerts
Sign up to newsletter
Fabulous North On Facebook

Find Us On Facebook

We post all our new places daily on our Facebook Groups page, so join the group today and be notified when we add a new place.

Join Our Facebook Group

Norham Castle was listed in Castle // Northumberland // Berwick Upon Tweed