ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Visiting Norham Castle, Northumberland, England: Medieval Bishops fighting Scots; English fighting English; complex!

Updated on February 18, 2016
Flag of England
Flag of England | Source
Norham Castle viewed from the River Tweed.
Norham Castle viewed from the River Tweed. | Source
Norham Castle southeast
Norham Castle southeast | Source
Norham Castle at Sunrise, detail, by J M Turner, 1835-1840. The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH.
Norham Castle at Sunrise, detail, by J M Turner, 1835-1840. The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH. | Source

Of interest for your visit

Damp, isolated and complicated

So is the history of this Medieval Castle in Northumberland (1) overlooking the Tweed River all about English kings fighting Scottish kings along the border between England and Scotland?

Well, the truth is a whole lot more complex than this. Built in the 12th century by Ranulf Flambard, Bishop of Durham, chances are, in this part of England at least, if someone wanted to disembowel you with cannon balls, it would likely be by courtesy of the Lord Bishop. Intermittently over the subsequent years and centuries, there were indeed repeated incursions, often led by Scottish kings, not least by Robert the Bruce (1274-1329) in 1318.

But despite the proximity of Scotland over the Tweed, which Norham Castle overlooks, at times in the Castle's history when armies arrived geared up to fight, it was actually English fighting English. During the Wars of the Roses in the 15th century, Norham Castle was a Yorkist stronghold, besieged by Lancastrians. Later the keepers of the Castle changed sides voluntarily, but surrendered to the Lancastrians again.

(And so it goes...)

The keep of the Castle is ruined, but still a huge, monumental structure. The Castle's architect is thought to have been Richard of Wolviston in the 12th century.

In 1513, during one of the Castle's sieges, the keep remained in English control while King James IV of Scotland's troops held the outer walls. When the English in the keep capitulated to James IV, his proved to be pyrrhic because shortly afterwards he perished at the Battle of Flodden Field, not far from Norham.

On a rainy day, I recall sheltering in a dingy room in an intact part of the keep. The damp, dark conditions were evocative of Medieval times.

In more peaceful times, the Castle was painted — a number of times, in fact —by the artist J. M. Turner (1775-1851). Turner's somewhat 'mystical' style and the Castle's location at a northern extremity of England, still combine to give a sense of isolation.

The Castle is now in the care of English Heritage. The Castle is situated in the aptly named Castle Street, Norham, in Northumberland.

February 18, 2016


(1) The history of the names 'Northumberland' and the older form 'Northumbria' reveals an exercise in politicans' indecision. While the historic name is 'Northumbria', for centuries the county name was 'Northumberland', but changed back by politicians in the 20th century to 'Northumbria'. This, however, proved not to be so popular locally and so the name was changed back again to 'Northumberland'!

Some sourcing: Wikipedia.

Also worth seeing

In Norham itself, a Norman church was predated by a stone building erected in 830; this itself was predated, according to tradition, by a wooden building brought from Lindisfarne in the 7th century. The Ladykirk and Norham Bridge, completed in stone in 1887, crosses the Tweed River.

Coldstream, Scotland (distance: approx. 12 kilometres); this interesting Scottish Borders town has much of interest to the visitor, including the 18th century Coldstream Bridge, the Kirk, also 18th century, and a museum strong in material about the Coldstream Guards.


How to get there: United Airlines flies from New York Newark to Edinburgh Airport (distance to Norham: 96.3 kilometres), where car rental is available. Please note that some facilities mentioned may be withdrawn without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)