Built on a basalt outcrop, Bamburgh Castle was previously home to a fort of native Britons and may have been the capital of the British kingdom of the region from the realm's foundation in c.420 until 547. In that year the citadel was captured by the Anglo-Saxon ruler Ida of Bernicia and became Ida's seat. It was briefly retaken by Britons from his son Hussa during a war of 590 before being relieved later the same year.
His grandson Æðelfriþ (King of Bernicia) passed it on to his wife Bebba, from whom the early name Bebbanburgh was derived. Vikings destroyed the original fortification in 993.
The Normans built a new castle on the site which forms the core of the present one. William II besieged it in 1095 during a revolt supported by its owner, Robert de Mowbray, Earl of Northumbria but was unsuccessful. After Robert was captured, his wife continued the defence until persuaded to surrender by the king's threat to blind her husband.
Bamburgh then became the property of the reigning English monarch. As an important English outpost, the castle was the target of raids from Scotland. In 1464 during the Wars of the Roses, it became the first castle in England to be defeated by artillery, at the end of a nine-month siege by Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick.
The Forster family of Northumberland provided the Crown with twelve governors of the castle for some 400 years until the Crown granted ownership to Sir John Forster. The family retained ownership until Sir William Forster was posthumously declared bankrupt and his estates, including the castle, were sold to Lord Crew, Bishop of Durham (husband of his sister Dorothy) under an Act of Parliament to settle the debts.
The castle deteriorated but was restored by various owners during the 18th and 19th centuries and was finally bought by Victorian industrialist William Armstrong, who is credited with completing the restoration.
The castle still belongs to the Armstrong family, and is open to the public. It hosts weddings and corporate events as well. It has been used as a film location since the 1920s featuring in films such as Ivanhoe, El Cid, Mary, Queen of Scots, and Elizabeth.
More information, including admission times and costs can be found on the Bamburgh Castle website: