Places to Visit in and around Bamburgh
More than a beautiful village on Northumberland’s coastline
Nowadays, Bamburgh is a relatively small village with a population of about 400 people located on the stunning coast of Northumberland in North-East England.
Northumberland experienced a significant growth in tourism over the past five years and it’s definitely a place worth visiting if you are looking for incredible sceneries to walk, cycle or just relax close to the sea.
But there’s also plenty of history to Bamburgh itself that is worth discovering.
From Anglo-Saxon Times to Modern Days
One of the sights worth mentioning is it’s famous ‘Bamburgh Castle’ which dominates the landscape for miles and miles around, sitting on top of a natural plateau consisting of volcanic rocks.
It used to serve as the home of former Kings of Northumbria and is said to be one of the most famous British archeological sights and a prominent part of the breathtaking landscape overlooking Northumberland’s coastline.
Bamburgh and its castle played a significant role in the past with remains found that date back to 10,000BC. This means that people have been living in Bamburgh and the surrounding area for more than 12,000 years. That’s quite impressive, isn’t it?
Bamburgh might even have been the most important place in overall England in the Anglo-Saxon times when it became a Christian site and the likes of King Oswald of Northumbria, later Saint Oswald, and Saint Aiden resided here, trying to spread the Christian belief across Northumbria.
Castle Bamburgh was destroyed in 993 AD by the Vikings, but a new castle was built by the Normans and embodies the core of the castle you can visit today.
Later, during the Wars of the Roses (1455-1485), Bamburgh Castle should become the first English castle defeated by artillery after a nine-months-siege.
The Crown granted the Forster family of Northumberland ownership after they contributed more than a dozen successful governors to the castle over the cause of 400 years.
Nevertheless, the estate was taken away from them after it surfaced that Sir William Foster was declared bankrupt after his death in 1700.
Bamburgh Castle and the Armstrong family
After shifting from owner to owner during the 18th and 19th century, the castle somewhat deteriorated. It was restored when Sir William Armstrong, a famous Victorian industrialist, finished the restorations.
Sir William Armstrong is regarded as the inventor of modern artillery and got his knighthood after writing over his patents on guns to the government in 1859.
He was also the first ever engineer and scientist joining the House of Lords.
The Armstrong family stills owns Bamburgh Castle and opened it to the public showcasing the famous Bamburgh Sword and some of Armstrong’s artefacts in its own Armstrong & Aviation Museum.
Museum, Castle.. and film set?
Bamburgh Castle has also been served as a film set since the 1920s and is mentioned in various films such as Macbeth (2015) starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, and the TV-series The Last Kingdom which aired on BBC Two.
It’s open to visitors from 10am - 5pm on a daily basis from February to October and on weekends from 11am - 4:30pm during the winter season.
For more information on Bamburgh Castle visit bamburghcastle.com
A fort in the North Sea
The castle was built during the 16th century and sits prominently on Beblow Hill, the highest point on Holy Island, a small island off the coast of Northumberland, in the North Sea.
Lindisfarne Castle is really more of a fort than a castle as it had to defend itself from various attacks from Vikings and Scots in the past due to its vulnerable position in the sea.
It provides you with spectacular views over the sea and the beautiful landscape of Northumberland as is a popular, iconic tourist attraction in the area.
Lindisfarne Castle over the years
At the very beginning of the 20th century, the castle changed owners and was acquired by Edward Hudson, a rich publisher and the founder of Country Life magazine.
He hired his friend, the British architect Sir Edward Lutyens to make significant changes to the castle itself which later led to inspirations for the Scottish Parliament building.
Lindisfarne Castle delivered the backdrop and film set for the psycho comedy drama film Cul-de-sac (1966) by Roman Polanski which was entirely filmed in and around the castle.
St. Aiden Beach
A stunning beach on the coast of Northumberland
St. Aiden beach is absolutely beautiful and definitely a spot worth visiting. The award-winning beach will captivate you through its huge expanse and the the stunning surrounding landscape including Bamburgh Castle, the dunes and its rock pools.
The firm sand allows you to walk comfortably for miles and miles.
It’s a popular destination for joggers, families, people walking their dogs and surfers and said to be very clean.
St. Aiden Beach even scored a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor which issues them to places constantly getting great reviews.
Defensive fortification built by Romans
Hadrian’s Wall is also known as the Roman Wall or as Vallum Hadriani which derives from Latin. It is one of the most famous ancient sites in England and holds the title of a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1987.
The Wall was built under the reign of Roman emperor Hadrian within six years. Building started in AD 122 with more than 15.000 men working on the wall which was made mostly from stone and turf with a ditch in front of it to keep attackers from the North away with forts along the 73 miles long stretch.
The stone walls of Hadrian’s Wall were between 16 and 20 feet high and ten feet wide whereas the turf part was 20 feet wide and 11 feet high, not counting the ditches in front of them.
Against popular belief, Hadrian’s Wall has never functioned as an Anglo-Scottish border as it lies completely within England.
Nowadays, Hadrian’s Wall Path is one of 15 National Trails reaching from Wallsend on the east coast to Bowness-on-Solway on the west coast.
You have the chance to visit more than ten attractions along the way including museums, forts and old bath houses.
A trip to Hadrian’s Wall is about one to two hours away if you drive from Bamburgh. Nevertheless, it’s a truly great place to visit and why don’t you make a daytrip out of it? If you don’t want to drive too far, you can go down to Newcastle within an hour and find the:
- Great North Museum: Hancock which explains the construction and operation of Hadrian’s Wall since 2009,
- Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths and Museum, a fully reconstructed bath house and museum at the end of the wall - in Wallsend
- Arbeia Roman Fort which is a full-scale reconstruction of the original military buildings providing visitors with an insight into military life in Roman times.
A national heroine
Grace Darling (1815-1842) became England’s national heroine after saving survivors from the wrecked Forfarshire alongside her father, a lighthouse keeper in 1838 while risking her life.
The ship ran on ground of the Farne Islands which are located off the Northumberland coast in the North-East of England and split in two pieces, one of which sunk during the night.
Grace spotted the ship in the early morning hours and set out with her father to save the people in their rowing boat although the weather conditions were bad and the sea rough.
They managed to save four men and a woman from the ship.
After the public found out about her and her father’s actions, they were both awarded with a Silver Medal for bravery. Darling stood out through her fearlessness and virtue and was turned into a national heroine.
Shortly after that, huge amounts on monetary donations were raised for Grace including offerings from the then Queen of England, Victoria. But not only money, also letters, marriage proposals, gifts and even painters found their way to her home on Longstone Island.
The Duke of Northumberland personally looked after her and set up a trust to manage her unexpected wealth as her self-appointed guardian.
At the age of 26, only four years after the rescue that made her so famous, Grace fell sick and died of tuberculosis in her hometown of Bamburgh. She was buried alongside her family in St. Aiden’s graveyard.
You can visit the RNLI Museum Grace Darling Museum in Bamburgh which commemorates the life of the English heroine with personal items such as letters, portraits and the boat which she used during the rescue.
The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10am - 4pm.
Craigside House & Garden
Craigside House is located in close to Rothbury, a 45-minute drive away from Bamburgh and has been a National Trust site since 1977.
It’s a beautiful victorian country house and was built in 1863. Craigside House became the first house in the world lit by hydroelectricity due to Lord Armstrong building and using it as his country house.
He was an industrialist, but also an inventor and scientist.