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Bamburgh - A Village of Ancient Kings and a Victorian Heroine

Updated on February 10, 2017

Bamburgh, Northumbria

The Northumbrian coast of north east England is rich in history and well known for its dramatic and rugged scenery. Quaint seaside towns and villages rub shoulders with medieval castles often hide legacies from a fascinating past.

The small village of Bamburgh (pronounced Bambrough) is no exception. With its long sweeping sandy beaches and fine sea views to off shore islands this village sits in the shadow of huge medieval castle walls and was once home to a true Victorian heroine.

Bamburgh - the village

Bamburgh is dominated by a huge Norman castle perched on a rocky basalt promontory of the Great Whin Sill. Neat grey stone cottages sit around a triangular green; a cricket pitch nestles under the shadow of the mighty castle walls; a few small shops, tearooms and a restaurant, several excellent hotels and pubs make this village of only 500 inhabitants a popular all year round destination for visitors to this corner of the north east.

The castle - a brief history

Bamburgh castle, for centuries the royal seat of the Kings of Northumbria, dominates the village. You may even recognise it for its dramatic position perched on a rocky basalt outcrop of the Great Whin Sill and the local coastal scenery have made the castle a star and it has featured in many television programmes and films including Becket, Macbeth, Ivanhoe, El Cid and more recently Mary Queen of Scots, Elizabeth and Robin Hood.

Built on the site of an earlier castle, the present castle dates from the 12th century and the end of the Norman period when it was rebuilt in stone to defend against the marauding Scots.

Several hundred years later the castle fared badly during the Wars of the Roses becoming the first castle in England to be besieged and subsequently defeated by artillery action.

Over the next few centuries under a succession of owners the castle gradually deteriorated until the Victorian era when it was bought by Lord Armstrong. This Victorian inventor and industrialist and founder of the famous Newcastle armaments factory, who also built Cragside the first house in the world to be lit by water powered electricity, completely renovated and refurbished the castle, (albeit with a few 'romantic' Victorian adornments), into a family home.

Today the castle remains the home of the Armstrong family and includes a museum to his many achievements.

For visitor information please click on the link below.

Grace Darling - Victorian heroine

Grace Darling was the daughter of the lighthouse keeper of the Longstone Lighthouse on the nearby Farne Islands.

In 1838 she became the nation's heroine when aged 24 she rowed out in a lifeboat at the height of a storm with her father to the aid of passengers and crew from a steamer, the SS Forfarshire, which lay broken and wrecked on the rocks.

Sadly Grace only lived for another 2 years and died from tuberculosis at the age of 26. She lies buried in the churchyard of St Aidans Church, Bamburgh.

The Grace Darling Museum opposite the church tells her story and the lifeboat in which she set out to rescue the survivors is one of the exhibits.

For visitor information please click on the link below.

About the author

Antony was born in the small coastal town of Saltburn-by-the-sea, and lived in Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire before returning to his native Yorkshire. He has spent his adult life in the north of England working for a UK Bank and two Government Agencies.

Now living in Yorkshire between the Dales and the Moors Antony enjoys writing and taking photographs. He has written and published two ebooks bringing together some of his short stories and humorous anecdotes, and been published in The Yorkshire Dalesman.

His interests include walking, photography, history, travel, reading and watching cricket.

Bamburgh - where is it.

Bamburgh, Bamburgh, Northumberland NE69, UK

get directions

Bamburgh and further afield

Bamburgh is on the Northumbrian coast a few miles to the east of the main north/south A1 motorway,approximately 50 miles north of Newcastle upon Tyne and 20 miles south of Berwick on Tweed and the Scottish border.

Further afield but still within easy reach other places of interest to visit include Budle Bay and the Farne Islands, a haven for bird watchers, naturists and walkers. Boat trips to see the bird and seal colonies are available from the neighbouring village of Seahouses.

Alternatively cross the causeway at low tide to nearby historic Holy Island, Lindisfarne, and its village, ancient ruined Priory and castle.

Or visit the ancient town of Alnwick and its famous castle and gardens, (familiar to Harry Potter fans).

Scotland and the border town of Berwick on Tweed is also close by.

Have you visited Bamburgh or Northumbria?

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    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 

      3 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Hello Anthony, just spotted this link on one of my pages (the Sailors' Trod, remember?) again and thought I'd pay a visit.

      Had a tramp around with you here to see how you treated the subject.

      You know how the site got its name? One of the kings of Northumbria wedded a Pictish princess named Baebba, and named the original timber stronghold 'Baebbanburh' (as featured in the TV series on BBC2 early on in 'The Last Kingdom'), pronounced 'Bambrough as you say here'.

      Sad about Grace dying only months after the rescue of passengers and crew from the ship.

      There was another harrowing rescue, this one from a hospital ship early in WWI that ran aground near Whitby, when the only boat that got near was a motored lifeboat from Tynemouth. The ship was close but not close enough to the shore and a rope rescue was attempted. The storm prevented the oar-powered Whitby lifeboat from launching out of the harbour mouth and it was hauled by horses around the side of the harbour to the beach that extends to Sandsend. One of the nurses who survived had been on the RMS 'Titanic' only a few years earlier.

      [I was up Wensleydale in November, visiting friends at West Burton (Cat Pottery), buying cheese up at Hawes and taking pictures of the stations on the WR].

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      As always there is so much history in Great Britain and this is one of them. My own hometown where you have is not famous or really touristic but there is so much history behind with the invasion of the Danes, Norsemen and Swedish and Norwegian too.

    • Northern-Light profile imageAUTHOR

      Antony J Waller 

      7 years ago from North Yorkshire

      @Blackspaniel1: Yes, well worth a visit.

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image


      7 years ago



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