The north east of England, is rich in heritage and those with an interest in history will find many ancient structures within easy access of the town of Killingworth in the county of Northumberland including many castles, some dating back to medieval times or beyond.
Alnick Castle is perhaps one of the most visited but it is certainly the one that most people recognise as it was used in the Harry Potter movies as the location for Hogwarts School of Wizardry. However, as well as the flocks of children who come in droves to see the young wizard’s term time home, there are many other tourists who come for other reasons not least the beautiful grounds and surrounding landscapes with its picturesque river running down the side of it. The architecture alone is fairly impressive as most of the original features are still there including the lifelike statues of people that sit along the top of the turrets and the vast cannons that protected the castle in days gone by. The interior of the castle includes state rooms and a military museum dedicated to the Napoleonic Wars, as well as a compilation of British and Irish archaeology artefacts and a superb collection of 19th century vehicles. This castle was built in the 11th century just after the Norman invasion and was the seat of the Duke of Northumberland for centuries and is also a stately home that is a Grade I listed building., which attracts around 800,000 visitors annually.
Aydon Castle is a 13th-century manor house castle that was built slightly later in the 1200’s and it is also known as Aydon Hall. This fortified structure is also a Grade I listed building but is also a Scheduled Ancient Monument and this type of building became popular with lesser nobility and richer burgesses during the middle ages. These generally consisted of a hall and residential wing, domestic ranges, and fortifications that included features such as a moat or crenellated walls to form battlements and Aydon was a two storey structure of this kind. It is still deemed to be one of the finest examples of its kind in the country and is remarkably well preserved from its original state, with very little having altered over the centuries. Despite its fortified design it was captured twice by the Scots in the 14th Century and was transformed into a farm in the mid 1800’s, remaining in this form until its renovation in 1966 which restored it to its former glory as a traditional medieval manor house castle. Dilston Castle is situated close to the nearby town of Corbridge and is a restored 15th century tower house that had fallen to ruin over the past century or more until it was renovated at the start of the 21st Century and opened to the public from 2003 onwards. Belsay Castle’s main structure, is a very distinctive and substantial three story rectangular pele tower that has rounded turrets and battlements that was built in the 1500’s while it’s adjoining Belsay House is a 19th century unfurnished country mansion that was built as an attachment for this tower several centuries later.