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The Village of Bamburgh is the ancient capital of Northumbria and the cradle of the regions history, famous for the magnificent castle that dominates the coastline.

Ida, the Saxon monarch and founder of the dynasty of Northumbria kings, first built a castle here in the 5th century. In the years that followed the settlement was named 'Bebbanburgh', after Bebba, the wife of Ida's grandson.

King Oswald, a convert to Christianity, spent some of his early years in exile on the Scottish island of Iona. When he regained the Northumbria throne, he sent to the monastery there for monks to spread the gospelthroughout his lands. In AD635 , Aidan and Oswald built the kingdoms first first church in Bamburgh, propably on the site of the present church, which was built between 1170 and 1230.

Like the priory on nearby Lindisfarne (Holy Island), the first castle suffered from numerous Viking raids and was rebuilt in 11th century, reaching its present magnificence in1272.

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Bamburgh Castle built onto the natural rock
A formidable castle


Photo by Colin Thompson

In later centuries it fell into dispair, Lord Crewe, the last of the Prince Bishops of Durham, bought the castle in 1704, creating a charity school for girls there. But the Trustees fell into financial difficulties and it was bought as a private residence in 1894 by William, 1st Lord Armstrong. Restored to its former proud state, the castle has remained the family's home since then.

The village of Bamburgh is the last resting place of Northumbria's most famous heroine, Grace Darling. She was born in 1815, daughter of the keeper of the longstone lighthouse on the Farne Islands. On the night of 7 September 1838, in a severe storm, the Forfarshire,a a steamship bound for Dundee with 39 passengers, was swept onto the rocks of Big Harcar, one of the outer Farnes. Grace and her father rowed a boat through the howling gale and lashing rain to the scene of the wreck, and succeeded in rescuing nine passengers. She was claimed by tuberculosis in 1842 and was buried in Bamburgh churchyard, opposite the museum that commemorates this young womens bravery.

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