12 Must Visit Castles in Northumberland, England



Northumberland’s Castles are set in some of England’s most stunning countryside, guarding enters to harbours, and providing strongholds.  They look romantic and impregnable and despite the ravages of the centuries, skirmishes and an often vicious weather pattern they remain stunning to look at.  There are more than 70 castles in Northumberland, England’s most northerly county.  That there are so many is testament to the geography of the county, on the border with Scotland and the east coast of England.  Many of Northumberland’s castles are in ruins, however, an incredible number retain their structures and are open to the public to visit.  We’ve selected 12 of the most stunning and historic Northumberland Castles that you should visit while in Northumberland.

The Best Northumberland Castles to Visit

We’ve brought you a selection of the best castles in Northumberland.  Some of quite stunning in their location and overlook, like Bamburgh Castle, overlooking the North East coast from the most majestic of viewpoints.  There are those that many will recognize, like Alnwick Castle most recently famed from the Harry Potter movies, Downton Abbey and Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves.  Northumberland’s castles have hosted Kings, kept Viking and Scottish marauders at bay and they have inspired artists.  Here are the legendary and very, very beautiful castles of Northumberland.

Explore Alnwick Castle in Northumberland

For those outside the area, Alnwick is the most famous castle in Northumberland due to its starring role in the Harry Potter movies, Downton Abbey and Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves.  Today Alnwick Castle is the second largest castle in England (after Windsor Castle) and is still the family home of the Percy family, the Dukes of Northumberland.

A Brief History of Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle dates back to Norman times, was originally built in the 11th century and has been the home of the Percy Family since 1309.  Alnwick Castle was originally built as border protection, it lies just 30 kilometres (19 miles) from the England – Scotland border.  There have been periods when the castle fell into disrepair and times when the castle has been home to evacuees and refugees.   The Castle is currently home to both the Percy family and students from the St Cloud State University, Minnesota, USA.  Read more about Alnwick Castle history here.

What to See At Alnwick Castle

There are LOTS of things to do at Alnwick Castle, as well as a huge number of things to see.  You’ll want to plan for the full day visiting here and pre-booking tours if you have a specific interest in the film location tours, here are our top tips of what to see and do at Alnwick Castle.

  • Visit the double-level library of 14,000 books at Alnwick Castle.
  • Take a stateroom tour of Alnwick Castle and see the Italian Renaissance style staterooms with elaborately carved ceilings, silk walls and a stunning private art collection.
  • Take a film location tour of Alnwick Castle and visit where the flying car belonging to the Weasley Family of Harry Potter fame crashed.
  • Take a broomstick training class while in Alnwick
  • Visit the exhibitions of the history of Alnwick Castle’s previous residents and plotters.

Where is Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle is located in the centre of the town of Alnwick.  Alnwick Castle, Alnwick, Northumberland, NE66 1NG.

How to Get to Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle is easy to reach by road, just a mile from the A1 – just follow the signposts.  The main car park is located on Denwick Lane, the B1340.  There’s a charge of £3 per vehicle for the car park for the day, and the car park is open from 1000, only cash is accepted.

If you’re taking the train to Alnwick Castle, then alight off the East Coast mainline from London to Edinburgh at Alnmouth Station.  Take a taxi or a bus (the X18) from Alnmouth to Alnwick, it’s a distance of 4 miles and takes about 10 minutes.

Buses run to Alnwick from surrounding towns as well as from the Haymarket bus station in Newcastle Upon Tyne (the X15 and the 18).  Alnwick’s bus station is just 5 minutes walk from Alnwick Castle.

Alnwick Castle Opening Times

Alnwick Castle is normally open from 0900 until 1730.  State Rooms close at 1630.   Last entrance to the castle is at 1545.

Alnwick Castle Entrance Fees

Entrance prices to Alnwick Castle are £18.50 for adults and £9.75 for children.  Combined tickets to visit Alnwick Castle and the Garden cost £30.25 for adults and £13.25 for children.

Aydon Castle

Aydon Castle is to be found on the outskirts of the Roman town of Corbridge.  This 13th Century Fortified Manor House is virtually completely intact.  In its original form is was a simple Manor House, but following hostilities between the English and Scots, it was fortified and became known as a Castle.  Aydon Castle is recognised as one of the best examples of an unaltered 13th century Manor house.

History of Aydon Castle

Aydon Castle was originally built as a manor house in the 13th century by Huge de Raymes, a wealthy merchant from Suffolk.  Hostilities between the English and the Scots commenced not long after it was built and it was almost immediately then fortified.  However, Aydon Castle was pillaged and then burnt by the Scots in 1315, reseized by English rebels in 1317 and seized again by the Scots in 1346.  Aydon Castle is just 50 miles from the England – Scotland border.  In the 17th century, Aydon Castle once again became a farmhouse and was lived in until 1966.  The property is now managed by English Heritage.  There’s more on the history of Aydon Castle here.

What to See At Aydon Castle

The surroundings at Aydon Castle are quite lovely, as it is positioned in secluded woodlands, be sure to take time to take a walk through them.  Be sure to see

  • The manor house
  • The walled orchard – it’s a great place for a picnic
  • Don’t miss the 13th century medieval carved fireplaces

Where is Aydon Castle

Aydon Castle is located off Aydon Road, Corbridge, Northumberland, NE45 5PJ.

How to Get to Aydon Castle

Aydon Castle is located off Aydon Road, Corbridge, Northumberland, NE45 5PJ.  Aydon Castle is 1 mile from Corbridge  There is a car park at Aydon Castle for 20 cars and parking is free for English Heritage members, there may be a charge for non-members.   The car park is 100 metres walk from the entrance to the castle.

To take the bus to Aydon Castle, take the Alba or Classic service AD122 between April and November.  Alternatively, take the bus to Corbridge and walk from there.

The closest train station to Aydon Castle is Corbridge you can walk to the castle from Corbridge Train station along a bridle path on the western side of Aydon Road, which you can access immediately to the north of Corbridge bypass

Aydon Castle Opening Times

Aydon Castle is open every day apart from Monday and Tuesday.  The castle is open between 1000 and 1800.

Aydon Castle Entrance Fees

Aydon Castle is free to English Heritage members – check membership options here CCCC.  Non-members pay £5.90 for entry, £3.50 for children.

Final words on the 12 most magnificent castles in Northumberland

From a castle on an island in the North Sea to castles perched on the edge of some of England’s most stunning countryside, Northumberland has more castles than any other county in England.  The castles of England’s most northerly county, Northumberland are quite simply magnificent, have some incredible histories within their walls and your challenge will not be just to visit them once but to not want to return time after time.

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About Sarah Carter

Sarah Carter is an avid reader, writer and traveller. She loves hiking, sailing, skiing and exploring the world through food. She left a successful career in IT security and compliance in both the UK and US to travel the world with husband and partner in adventure, Nigel.

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