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Warkworth Castle
Semi-Ruined Norman Motte & Bailey Castle in England

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Warkworth Castle is a ruined, although well preserved castle, situated in Warkworth, Northumberland, England on a defensive mound in a loop of the River Coquet. It is a Grade I listed building.

Warkworth Castle was originally constructed as a wooden fortress, some time after the Norman Conquest. It was later ceded to the Percy family, who held it, and resided there on and off until the 16th century. During this period the castle was rebuilt with sandstone curtain walls and was reinforced.

The imposing keep, overlooking the village of Warkworth was added during the late 14th century. It was refurbished by the Dukes of Northumberland in the late 19th century.

Hermits were patronised here by the Earls of Northumberland until the Dissolution of the Monasteries. They supplied their hermit with pasture for 12 cows, a garden, 20 loads of firewood, fish every Sunday and £20 a year. In return he said prayers for them.

Traditionally the first hermit and builder of the Hermitage was Sir Bertram, a knight who mistakenly killed his lover, Lady Isabel Widdrington, and his brother as he tried to rescue her from the Scots.





Warkworth Castle
Northumberland NE65 0UJ

English Heritage
Telephone from the UK: 0870 333 1181
Telephone from the US: 010 44 870 333 1181
Telephone from France: 00 44 870 333 1181
Telephone from other countries: +44 (0)870 333 1181

Fax: 01793 414 926

Google map showing the location of Warkworth Castle


Google map showing Warkworth Castle



Although the village of Warkworth, Northumberland dates back to at least the 8th century, the first castle was not built until some time in 11th century, after the Norman Conquest. This was a motte and bailey structure of timber construction. A stone wall was built around the site in the mid-12th century and the castle was given to Roger FitzRichard, 1st Baron Warkworth.

When the Anglo-Scottish wars began in 1296 the castle was garrisoned by troops. Records show that in 1319 a garrison of twenty-four soldiers and staff held the castle. Half of the cost was paid by the King who later became owner of the castle.

By the mid-13th century, the castle was described by Matthew Paris as "a noble castle".

The descendants of FitzRichard encountered financial problems, including the cost of the upkeep of the castle, and ownership reverted to the Crown in 1332. It was next granted to Henry de Percy, Lord of Alnwick. Harry Hotspur lived here. Under the Percys, additional building work took place, including the fourteenth century keep.

In the rebellion of 1403, the castle fell to the King's cannon, suffering damage to the curtain wall. The castle was forfeited to the Crown, in whose ownership it remained until Henry V restored it to the Percy family. It was again forfeited to the King, during the Wars of the Roses and passed briefly into the hands of John Neville (brother of Warwick the Kingmaker) but again returned to the Percys in 1470.

The Percys sided against Elizabeth I in the Rising of the North, an uprising of the northern earls, which began in 1569. Thomas Percy, 7th Earl of Northumberland was executed in 1572 and the castle was pillaged by royal servants. The castle fell into long-term disrepair, being further damaged by the Parliamentary forces that were garrisoned there in 1648 and then used as a source of building materials for other houses in the later 17th century.

The castle remained a ruin until the mid-nineteenth century, when the third Duke of Northumberland undertook some preservation work and the fourth Duke excavated some of the older parts of the castle and re-roofed other areas.

In 1922 the 8th Duke of Northumberland handed the castle over to the Office of Works which had been made accountable for the guardianship of ancient monuments. The Office of Works was in due course supplanted by English Heritage who now own the castle.

The Castle Gatehouse




Warkworth Castle by Turner




The castle consists of three main sections:

  • The keep, situated on a mound at the extreme northern end of the inner bailey.
  • The inner bailey, roughly triangular and to the north of the outer bailey.
  • The outer bailey, a roughly square section at the southern end of the castle.


The keep is like a castle within the castle. It is built on three main storeys and includes a great hall, chapel, kitchens, storerooms and various chambers. A central "lightwell" provides daylight to some of the inner rooms and also allows the capture of rainwater into a tank which has a separate channel to allow water to be diverted to flush the latrines.

The inner bailey is bordered on the south side by the collegiate church (which for a number of reasons was never completed) with a small tunnel beneath, including a crypt/storage space. To the east and west it is bounded by curtain walls. Within the roughly rectangular open area is a separate building which once housed what was believed to have been a brewery and a laundry.

The Outer Bailey:

The castle is defended on the southern side by a ditch across which a drawbridge would have provided entry into the main gatehouse. Apart from the gatehouse itself, the southern curtain wall is defended by two towers: the Carrickfergus Tower and the Montague Tower. The main entrance leads into the outer bailey, which consists of an open area, about 40 metres square, bounded by some of the castle's internal buildings. These include the chapel, the great hall (which was once the centre of the castle before the main keep was constructed. It consisted of 2 floors and would have been where the lord and lady slept, the top floor was for entertainment and would have staged many events) incorporating the impressive Lion Tower, as well as kitchens and stables. Across the northern boundary of the bailey is the unfinished collegiate church and the access to the northern parts of the castle is via a tunnel underneath the church alongside the crypt.

The east wall is protected by two towers. It consists of the Montague Tower (sometimes known as the Amble Tower), and the Grey Mare's Tail Tower[2]. This stretch of wall also includes a small postern gate next to the Montague Tower. Unlike the south wall it does not have a ditch in front but is on raised land, with a flat area in front, which could be considered a weakness.

This wall is of such a steep decent to the river it is impossible to attack, to such an extent it actually has large windows on the outer wall which would have been part of the great hall. It also consists of a postern gate, slightly larger than that of the east wall, which had several uses such as getting water from the river during times of siege, sneaking out to attack the enemy, or even fleeing during time of siege.

A ditch runs across the front of the south wall, which consists of the Carrickfergus Tower, the Montague (or Amble) Tower, and the rather impressive gatehouse. The gatehouse was built in several stages, evidence of which can be seen in the stonework. It also has examples of murder holes, arrow slits and the remains of machicolations. The gatehouse, being the weakest point in most castle defences, tended to be the most heavily defended.





The castle formed the backdrop for several scenes in Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 2.

... this worm-eaten hold of ragged stone,
Where Hotspur's father, old Northumberland,
Lies crafty-sick.

Film Location For:

Elizabeth (1998)    



The Percy Coat of arms







I want to   a   in      





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