Berwick Castle - History and Facts | History Hit

Berwick Castle

Berwick-upon-Tweed, England, United Kingdom

Berwick Castle was a medieval castle, the ruins of which are located in Berwick-Upon-Tweed, Northumberland.

Lily Johnson

22 Mar 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Berwick Castle

Berwick Castle was a medieval castle originally built by King David I of Scotland in the 12th century, and rebuilt in the 13th century by King Edward I of England. Located near the border between Scotland and England, it was an important stronghold and changed hands between the two sides several times in the course of history.

Berwick Castle history

Berwick Castle was first commissioned in the 1120s by King David I of Scotland, before being given to the English as part of the terms of the Treaty of Falaise in 1175. In around 1190 however, Berwick was sold back to the Scots by Richard I to fund the Third Crusade. 100 years later Berwick would return into the hands of the English when it was retaken by Edward I during the First Scottish War of Independence in 1296, before the forces of Robert the Bruce recaptured it in 1318.

It would remain in Scottish hands until being captured for the final time by the English in August 1482. To achieve this, Edward IV made a pact with the Duke of Albany, brother of the Scottish King James III, that involved an invasion of Scotland and the claiming of the southern shires on behalf of England. The Duke marched on Berwick alongside Richard of Gloucester, later Richard III, and seized the castle.

During the Tudor era defensive bastion walls were built around Berwick, rendering the traditional defences of the castle obsolete, and by  Elizabeth I’s reign it became apparent that James VI of Scotland would succeed her, halting any further fortification. Gradually the castle fell to ruin and was later used as a quarry, helping to build the town’s Holy Trinity Church.

Berwick Castle today

Today Berwick Castle is managed by English Heritage, and sits in ruins atop a rocky outcrop overlooking the River Tweed. The atmospheric remains of the medieval west walls may be explored, as well as the flanking wall known as the White Wall and a number of ruined towers. One of the most dramatic of these is the 16th century octagonal Bell Tower standing four-storeys tall.

Lord’s Mount, an artillery fortification at the site may also be viewed, whose lower floor featured a kitchen with a well and oven, a latrine, and six casemates for long swivel guns.

Visitors can also walk a complete circuit of the Tudor bastion walls, on which detailed information boards give the site’s history and the strategic uses of the castle’s defences. One of the entry points to the ramparts is through the Berwick-upon-Tweed Barracks, an 18th century purpose-built barracks detailing the history of British infantrymen from the Civil War to the First World War.

Getting to Berwick Castle

Berwick Castle is located in Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland, and can be accessed just off the A1157 road. It is directly adjacent to Berwick-upon-Tweed train station, where a number of buses also stop a short walk to the site.