Monday 20 July 2020

Norham Castle

Norham Castle

Norham Castle is situated on a hill overlooking the village of Norham and the River Tweed. Due to its perilous location on the England/Scottish Border the castle has a very turbulent history. It was one of the most important strongholds in the region, but was also most frequently attacked by the Scots.

Norhan Castle was founded in 1121 by the Bishop of Durham to protect the property of the bishopric in North Northumberland from the Scots. Although in 1136 King David I of Scotland captured the castle it was soon handed back. During another invasion in 1138 the castle was captured again and was substantially damaged, remaining derelict for several decades until the Bishop of Durham ordered it to be rebuilt. In 1174 during a rebellion revolt against King Henry II in which rebels, supported by Bishop Hugh were defeated the castle was relinquished to the crown. In 1197 two years after Hugh's death the castle was given back to Bishop Philip de Poitou who was loyal to King John. However, when Philip died it again reverted to royal control.

The early fourteenth century was a turbulent time for the castle, suffering a large number of unsuccessful sieges by the Scottish army. In 1318 it was besieged at least thirteen times by Robert the Bruce and again in 1319. In 1322 the castle was eventually captured by the Scottish army but when peace was declared it was returned to the Bishop of Durham.

In 1462 during the war of the Roses Norham Castle was held by the Yorkists. Despite a Lancastrian siege the following year the Yorkists retained control. In 1464 support changed to the Lancastrians but this was short lived and the Yorkists soon regained control. In the latter part of the century the castle's defences were again strengthened and in 1497 the castle was besieged by an army of James IV of Scotland. Although the walls were damaged the castle was again repaired.

In 1513 when James IV of Scotland invaded England Norham Castle was immediately under attack. Eventually after several days of pounding and the destruction of the outer walls the castle surrendered. However, a few weeks later James was beaten and killed at the Battle of Flodden and the castle reverted back to English control. The castle was again restored and remained in a good state of repair. It continued to house a strong garrison until an extended state of peace between England and Scotland when the garrison was reduced and the defences allowed to deteriorate. By the end of the century the castle had fallen into a state of disrepair and on the orders of Queen Elizabeth I it was decided that the castle would not be repaired and was allowed to become ruinous.

The tranquility of the castle and its setting inspired JMW Turner to paint the castle on several occasions.

Norham Castle
Norham Castle Entrance

Stone Stairs Inside The Castle

Norham Castle

Painting Of Norham Castle By JMW Turner

Other Castles Nearby
      Etal Castle
     Twizel Castle
     Berwick Castle

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