Barnard Castle - History and Facts | History Hit

Barnard Castle

Barnard Castle, England, United Kingdom

Barnard Castle contains the ruins of a Norman stronghold which was later owned by Richard III.

Lily Johnson

15 Mar 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Barnard Castle

Barnard Castle in County Durham is a ruined Norman castle that sits high above the Tees Gorge. Once a key stronghold in the north, today its ruins provide an atmospheric walk through some of Britain’s most intriguing history, centred around royal power and revolt.

Barnard Castle history

The first stone fortifications at Barnard Castle were built by Guy de Baliol, a Norman lord granted the estate by William Rufus in 1095. However, it was under his nephew Barnard de Baliol that the site and town were truly expanded, both taking his name in the process.

In 1216 another of their successors, Hugh de Baliol, successfully defended the now-established Barnard Castle from Alexander II, King of Scotland. Hugh’s own grandson would briefly become King of Scotland from 1292-96.

From the 14th century, Barnard Castle passed into the holdings of Warwick ‘the Kingmaker’, before in 1471 passing to Richard, Duke of Gloucester, later Richard III, becoming one of his favourite residences.

In the 16th century Barnard belonged to the Bowes family, and was twice captured by rebels – first during the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536, and again in 1569 during an uprising against Elizabeth I by the northern lords. By 1626 Barnard Castle had fallen into neglect and the estate was sold to Sir Henry Vane, who stripped the castle of materials to furnish another of his properties, the nearby Raby Castle.

Barnard Castle today

Today Barnard Castle is run by English Heritage and forms a picturesque ruin for visitors to explore. A number of its original features can be identified including the castle towers and the 14th century Great Hall, while Richard III’s boar emblem can still be seen carved above the inner ward.

The Round Tower can be climbed, with breathtaking views over the Tees Gorge, and a Sensory Garden is also found at the site featuring scented plants and various tactile objects.

Getting to Barnard Castle

Barnard Castle is located in Teesdale, County Durham on the A67. There is parking in the town itself (also called Barnard Castle) with the nearest 500m away, and a number of buses run to the area. The nearest bus stop to the castle is Galgate, a 5-minute walk away, while the nearest train stations are Bishop Auckland and Darlington, both around 16 miles away.

Featured In

10 Castles Connected to Richard III

Despite his short time on the throne, King Richard III has attracted interest and debate about his actions ever since. Discover 10 castles linked to the story of King Richard III.