8 Unmissable Durham Castles

8 Unmissable Durham Castles

In the North East of England, Durham is a haven for castle lovers and history buffs. You will find Norman and Medieval castles in and around this beautiful university city.

Durham Castles

Let’s take a look at the 8 best Durham castles starting with the castle of Durham itself.

1. Durham Castle

Durham Castle is a Norman castle that was built by William the Conqueror in 1072. The site has been occupied since the Iron Age, but the Romans were not permanent inhabitants and did not create a settlement there. In fact, much of the current building dates back to Norman times and it is now one of England’s most important medieval castles.

2. Brancepeth Castle

Brancepeth Castle is situated on a high escarpment overlooking local coal mining villages in County Durham. The site offers immense views of beautiful countryside and also from its very own train station (which has recently been restored). It is a ruin but it still has some of its original features like the gatehouse, some of the walls, and the moat.

3. Auckland Castle

The curtain wall of Auckland Castle was built around 1220 by Henry de Auckland. It is a medieval castle with stunning views over the River Wear to Monkwearmouth and beyond. The castle has been owned by different noblemen over time, including Sir William de Soules who led an uprising of Scottish nobles against Edward I in 1296. Local legend says that despite being captured he got away with his treasure before being recaptured and taken to London for execution. His treasure was never found and his ghost still haunts the area.

4. Raby Castle

Raby Castle is a medieval castle with a moat, walls, towers and gatehouses. It once belonged to the Neville family who were powerful and influential at the time. The original keep was built by William Meschin in 1135, but it was enlarged 150 years later by Ralph Neville. The current house rooms are still occupied by the Dukes of Northumberland who have lived here almost continuously for 700 years.

5. Barnard Castle

Barnard Castle is a medieval stone castle which has been continuously occupied since 1071. It has all of the elements of a medieval castle including a large keep, gardens, and old farm buildings. It also has one of the finest surviving examples of a Norman Keep. The castle is now home to the Bowes Museum which has an art gallery and historic artifacts.

6. Witton Castle

Witton Castle is an Iron Age Hillfort and is situated on a commanding ridge in North Durham overlooking the River Wear. There are three distinct ramparts enclosing an area that was once occupied by houses and other buildings. The first fortifications were created between 700-450BC but they were rebuilt around 100BC when there was probably an influx of refugees from the Roman occupation.

7. Bowes Castle

Bowes Castle is a medieval house which was built in the 14th century. It has been modified to become a romantic, rambling building with turrets and battlements. The castle is surrounded by formal gardens which include magnificent shrubs and trees with some exotic species from overseas.

8. Scar Top

Scar Top is an Iron Age Hillfort that stands on a steep-sided hill above the River Skerne in County Durham, England. The fortification includes circular ramparts, ditches, and many other features that were created around 600-300BC. It is one of the largest hillforts in Britain and it was occupied continuously until around 100AD when it appears to have been abandoned.

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Amy Green

Hi, my name is Amy and I am a UK based teacher and blogger. I spent most of my childhood summers exploring castles of England and Wales, and most of my adulthood teaching humanities in Secondary schools. I love visiting and learning about Norman and Medieval Castles.

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