Friday, 30 May 2014

Norham Castle

The castle was originally founded in 1121 by The Prince Bishop, Ranulf Flambard, in order to protect the property of the bishopric in north Northumberland, from the Scots. In 1136, it was captured by the Scots, then handed back, only to be recaptured in 1138 during another invasion. It soon became derelict until Hugh De Puiset, Bishop of Durham, rebuilt it between 1157 and 1170.

In 1174, Hugh de Puiset supported the rebels in a revolt against Henry II, during which the Scottish king, William the Lion invaded Northumberland. The rebels were defeated and as a result, Bishop Hugh was forced to relinquish Norham Castle to the crown. In 1209, the castle accommodated both King John and William the Lion, on an occasion when William did homage for his English lands to the English king.  In 1215, Alexander II of Scotland besieged the castle for forty days without success. In 1217, the castle was once again restored to the bishopric of Durham.  In 1296 Edward I, “The Hammer of the Scots” invaded Scotland, and during his campaign, his queen, Marguerite of France, remained at Norham Castle.
In 1318, Robert the Bruce besieged the castle for nearly a year. The Scottish army succeeded in occupying the outer ward for three days but were then driven out. The siege did not succeed. In 1319, the Scots returned and the castle withstood a siege of seven months. In 1322, there was yet another unsuccessful Scottish siege. During all three sieges, the castle was under the command of Sir Thomas Grey of Heton, a knight who had been captured by the Scots at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.  In 1327, a Scottish army captured Norham, but the castle was soon restored to the Bishop of Durham, when peace was declared.

In 1462, the Yorkists on behalf of Edward IV held Norham Castle during the War of the Roses.  However, the following year a Lancastrian army besieged the castle for eighteen days until Yorkist forces relieved it. In 1464, the forces holding Norham castle changed sides to support the Lancastrians but were then forced to surrender to a force of Yorkists. In 1497, the castle was besieged for two weeks by an army led by James IV of Scotland. The siege included the use of artillery to try to breach the walls but an English army finally relieved the garrison. Following this latest siege, the castle was repaired again. One of the guns used in the siege was a 22-inch (56 cm) caliber cannon called Mons Meg. However, in 1513 James IV of Scotland again invaded England with a powerful army that included artillery. He crossed the border and moved on Norham. Weeks later, James was defeated and slain at the Battle of Flodden Field and Norham fell into English hands again.

William Dacre, 3rd Baron Dacre (c. 1493-1563), was Captain of Norham Castle in 1522-23. During another invasion scare from Albany, in September 1523 the Earl of Surrey gave orders for new earthwork defences of platforms and rampires.  The steward of the Earl of Northumberland, Roger Lascelles met with the Earl of Angus and William Douglas Abbot of Holyrood across the Tweed on 5 September 1528. Angus was threatened by his stepson James V of Scotland, and he asked Lascelles for chambers in the castle to be provided for his daughter Margaret Douglas, and the young Earl of Huntley. Margaret Douglas, the grandmother of James I of England was received at Norham in October.

However when an extended state of peace existed between the two countries, the garrison was reduced and the defences were allowed to deteriorate. By the end of the century, the castle had already fallen into a state of disrepair. In 1596, Queen Elizabeth gave the Captain, Sir Robert Carey, her 'resolute answer' that she would spend nothing on Norham. It was destined not to see any further fighting, but the castle and manor was given to George Home, 1st Earl of Dunbar by James VI of Scotland on his accession to the throne of England. The castle was left to fall into ruin.

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