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Index of first names

Alnwick Castle

 

 

Alnwick Castle
The Black Douglas relieves Alnwick Castle, 1448 Reconstruction by Andrew Spratt
Click image to enlarge
Alnwick Castle guards a road crossing the River Aln. Yves de Vescy, Baron of Alnwick, erected the first parts of the castle in about 1096. It was built to protect England's northern border against the Scottish invasions and border reivers.  King David I of Scotland took control of the castle in 1138, at which point it was described as "very strong". It was besieged in 1172 and again in 1174 by William the Lion, King of Scotland and William was captured outside the walls during the Battle of Alnwick.

During the Wars of the Roses, castles were infrequently engaged in battle and conflict was generally based around combat in the field. Alnwick was one of three castles held by Lancastrian forces in 1461 and 1462, and it was there that the "only practical defence of a private castle" was made according to military historian D. J. Cathcart King. It was held against King Edward until its surrender in mid-September 1461 after the Battle of Towton. Re-captured by Sir William Tailboys during the winter he surrendered to Hastings, Sir John Howard and Sir Ralph Grey of Heton in late July 1462. Grey was appointed captain but surrendered after a sharp siege in the early autumn.

King Edward responded with vigour and when the Earl of Warwick arrived in November Queen Margaret and her French advisor, Pierre de Brézé were forced to sail to Scotland for help. They organised a mainly Scots relief force which, under George Douglas, 4th Earl of Angus and de Brézé, set out on 22 November. Warwick's army, commanded by the experienced Earl of Kent and the recently pardoned Lord Scales, prevented news getting through to the starving garrisons. As a result the nearby Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh castles soon agreed terms and surrendered. But Hungerford and Whittingham held Alnwick until Warwick was forced to withdraw when de Breze and Angus arrived on 5 January 1463.

The castle is in good repair and used for many purposes. It provides a home for the present Duke of Northumberland and his family and offices for Northumberland Estates, which manages the Duke's extensive farming and property holdings.

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Last modified: Saturday, 18 March 2017