Did you know that there are over 70 castles in Northumberland: more than any other English county? Very much a buffer between Scotland and England, the county has suffered a turbulent past with battles raging here for centuries. The still-standing castles are legacies of this bloody history and range from small secluded ruins to giant fortresses on the hills and lavish country estates which are still inhabited.
Full of mystery and intrigue, many of these time-ravaged ruins are open to the public, welcoming visitors to hear their tales of theft, murder and spooky apparitions. One such fortification, the majestic Alnwick Castle, has even had a starring role in Harry Potter!
Why not book a stay in one of our fabulous cottages in Northumberland and discover the magic of this region's castles with our complete guide to Northumberland's castles, starting with one that boasts some of our favourite views in the area…
- 11th century Norman castle
- 14 State Rooms filled with artefacts
- Breathtaking views from the battlements
Towering above the Northumberland coast atop a rocky plateau, Bamburgh Castle is a magnificent fortress that was once the royal seat of the Kings of Northumbria. Restored by Lord Armstrong in the late Victorian period, this 11th-century castle in Northumberland spans over 9 acres of land and is one of the largest inhabited fortresses in the country. Connected by a series of intriguing stairwells, meandering corridors and passages, there are 14 State Rooms in Bamburgh Castle open to the public to explore, featuring more than 2,000 artefacts including arms and armour, porcelain, furniture and artwork.
Opening hours: 10am-5pm daily during Feb-Nov (weekends only during the winter)
Prices: Adult £11.25, Child £5.50, Family £28, Children under 4 free
Stay nearby at: Pepperclose Cottage, sleeps 4
- Featured in Harry Potter and Downton Abbey
- An impressive private art collection
- The second biggest inhabited castle in England
Originally a motte and bailey castle, Alnwick Castle has withstood numerous sieges over the years, gradually evolving into the splendid palace that it is today. With its commanding position over the River Aln, this is one of the most impressive castles in Northumberland with a rich history brimming with drama and intrigue, from a gunpowder plotter to medieval England’s most celebrated knight, Harry Hotspur. Alnwick Castle is so spectacular that it has taken a starring role in the magical Harry Potter films. It even has some wizard-themed activities and attractions to remind you of it – broomstick training, anyone?
Opening hours: Open seasonally 10am-5.30pm
Prices: Various ticket options available with a reduced cost if purchased online, see website
Stay nearby at: Hedgehope, sleeps 3
- Thought to date from the 12th century
- Harry Hotspur was a former resident
- Spectacular coastal views from the castle walls
Crowning a hilltop above the River Coquet, Warkworth Castle is one of the largest and strongest fortresses in Northern England. Its striking cross-shaped keep which is virtually complete presides over the remains of a great hall, chapel and gatehouse. Managed by English Heritage, this former home of the powerful Percy family, whose lion badge can be seen carved on many parts of the stronghold, is thought to date from the 12th century. A fine example of medieval life and architecture, Warkworth Castle is one of the must-see Northumbrian castles on any heritage coastal holiday in Northumberland.
Opening hours: Vary throughout the year, see website
Prices: Start from Adult £7.20, Child £4.30, Concession £6.50, Family £18.70, Children under 5 free
Stay nearby at: 1 Coquet Lodge, sleeps 4
- Britain’s most haunted castle
- Charles I stayed here before his imprisonment
- The grounds are home to rare wild cattle
The ancient and remarkable 12th-century fortress of Chillingham Castle was once home to Sir Humphry Wakefield and his family. Largely unchanged since its medieval beginnings, the Great Halls and State Rooms reveal fascinating tapestries, arms and armour, while outside, there are beautiful 18th-century gardens to explore. This Northumberland castle’s long list of royal guests includes King Henry III, Edward I and Charles I, but it’s the unwanted guests which make this castle different. It’s claimed that Chillingham is Britain’s most haunted castle - when you walk through the dungeons and torture chambers and hear the grisly tales of the people who were executed here you will start to see why.
Opening hours: Open seasonally 12-5pm
Prices: Adult £10.50, Child £6.50, Concession £9.50, Family £26, Children under 5 free
Stay nearby at: Riverside Cottage – Eglingham, sleeps 10
- Built in the 14th century by Thomas, Earl of Lancaster
- Twice besieged in the War of the Roses
- Its ruins have inspired the paintings of Turner
Set on a remote, windswept coastal headland, Dunstanburgh Castle is an iconic ruin, once one of the largest and grandest fortifications in Northern England. It is now owned by the National Trust and managed by English Heritage. Brooding and atmospheric, the castle can't be reached by road and is instead accessed by picturesque walks along panoramic cliffs from Craster, or over the dunes and beach from Embleton. Caught at sunrise or sunset, the crumbling ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle are a photographer’s dream, casting a dramatic silhouette upon the vast coastal sky.
Opening hours: Vary throughout the year, see website
Prices: Adult £5.70, Child £3.40, Concession £5.10, Family £14.80, Children under 5 free
Stay nearby at: Harbourside - Craster, sleeps 5
- Can only be reached when the tide is out
- Built using stone recycled from demolished Lindisfarne Priory
- Enchanting walled garden designed by Gertrude Jekyll
Perched on a rocky peak atop an island, you can’t get much more remote – or well protected – than Lindisfarne Castle. Following the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII, this 16th century Tudor stronghold was built to defend the Harbour of Holy Island. It was manned by armed guards until 1893 when it fell into disrepair before being bought and converted into a private holiday home by famed architect Edwin Lutyens in 1901. Now in the hands of the National Trust, you can cross the causeway (check the tide times beforehand) and explore Lindisfarne Castle’s intriguing interiors.
Opening hours: Open seasonally, and hours vary with tides, see website
Prices: Adult £7.30, Child £3.60, Family £18.10
Stay nearby at: Deja Blue, sleeps 6
Map of castles in Northumberland
From haunting ruins to imposing palaces, Northumberland’s castles are a must-see when visiting this beautiful part of North East England. Why not make the most of your historical holiday by staying in one of our cottages in Northumberland? Whether you are a couple looking for a romantic break for two or a family searching for a fun-filled break in a larger property, we have plenty of places to rest in comfort and style after a day exploring.
Need more inspiration? Our ‘Things to do in Northumberland’ guide is packed with ideas for days out!
Prices and opening hours are correct at the time of publishing; however, they are subject to change.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.