Prudhoe Castle

This article was written by Paul Hughes. He lives in the UK and visited the castle. He was kind enough to share his writing and the pictures with us!

You can see more pictures of this castle here

This castle is quite formidable and a forbidding sight. The local dialect pronounces it as “Prudha.”

Standing high above the river Tyne not quite hidden by the trees it provided protection to a river crossing and it also faced to the north and to the Borders. One of many and originally a timber construction in the year 1070. This castle boasts that it has the oldest recorded oriole window. This is in the gatehouse and built in 1150 it contained the chapel for the Lord and his household.

Prudhoe Castle outer wall

It soon became strengthened with walls, gatehouse and keep. Other alterations came in the form of towers and a Barbican by the 14th century. Further altered by increasing its height in the mid 14th century and the battlements were being infilled. The keep was built for Odinel d’Umfraville, William III granted the family the barony of Prudhoe.

War takes its toll on these magnificent pieces of architecture. Sieges can transform the original buildings in quite dramatic ways. But this castle was not destroyed in the English Civil Wars in 1640. Instead it just decayed into its present circumstances.
When the last male heir passed away in 1381, the estate passed to Henry Percy who was first earl of Northumberland by way of marriage and purchase. Alnwick Castle (pronounced “Annick”) also being in their possession.

The second earl decided to reinstate Prudhoe as the central pivot of the estate and a house was built within the environs of the castle especially for his land agent.

It has been in continuous use throughout the 20th century then the house became divided into flats. The castle has been restored now and so is occupied with its present guardians – English Heritage.

Prudhoe Castle Barbican

As we come into the castle down a hedge lined path we arrive at a very steep slope leading up to the barbican and through to the gatehouse. Huge metal studded oak doors hang there and arches supported by corbels have faces carved on them.

Looking to the left as we enter there is a large pool of water that would have supplied the mill.









Disappearing stairs
Further entering and looking right there is the east tower where there are a series of stone steps which are part way up the wall, interestingly they are rounded underneath.

There is a tour which starts in the house giving a more comprehensive history of Prudhoe castle and suggests visiting the inner and outer bailey and taking in its strategic ditches, pele yard and its mill.








Regency period stairs The house is Regency style where the staircase has slender baluster and mahogany handrail which has a tight scroll typical of the Regency period. There are Gothic windows, pointed arches and some Egyptian influences too.








Upstairs in the house within a glass case there is a small scale model of the castle.

Diorama of the castle


Cup and ring stone

A stone was found within the castle grounds which had cups carved in it. It has been planted in an upright manner to better show these. What were the cups for? A plate sign next to it will give you the answer.





If we keep to the right there are areas where buildings used to be such as the lodgings and latrines,next there is the east tower, and the floor plan where the great hall would have been, then the outer bailey.

Going through the house you enter the chamber block and the keep. There is also access to the inner bailey. Evidence of shouldered arches can be seen too.

Mystery holesThere are also two drum towers at each end of the inner bailey. In the middle of the floor of the keep is a square stone – it has a crossed slit and at each point of the cross is a circle shaped hole and one at the intersection of the cross, making five in total.

Question is – what was it for?





Going back down the steep slope to return to the outside to where we came in and looking to the left there is a path down to the old ruined mill.


New: What kind of things did a blacksmith do in the Middle Ages?

We all have an image of a blacksmith making swords all day right? Well.. not really true. A blacksmith did a whole lot of different things. This display from Prudhoe Castle Shows you the wide variety of things a blacksmith made and repaired. Of course it did include weapons. Blacksmithed items from Prudhoe Castle



















































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