Holy Island
Newton & Craster

The castle dominates the town from a hill up which the main road angles and climbs. When traffic entered from the North through a narrow medieval bridge and gatehouse arch, the effect was even more dramatic than today when a new bridge over the Coquet sweeps motorists easily into the centre. The 14th century bridge is now only for pedestrians. The village itself is of interest with terraces of 18th and 19th century houses built in grey stone with red roofs. It still looks as if it were clinging to the protection of the great stronghold. It is tightly packed on a peninsula of the river, with the castle guarding the neck and the sea within earshot. St Laurence's Church is the only fairly complete Norman church in Northumberland. It has five Norman windows in the nave, a highly decorated chancel arch and vaulted chancel ceiling, and a rare 14th century stone spire. There is a 15th century priest's room over the porch. The church has a well preserved effigy of a cross-legged knight of circa 1330.

Warkworth near the mouth of the river Coquet, has a sandy beach only 1 mile away and fishing and boating in the river. You can travel by boat from the castle (or follow a shady path) upstream to the Hermitage, an unusual refuge dug into the face of the bluff by some hermit in the 14th century. Not much is known about him, but he hollowed out a chapel and two living chambers on two floors connected by steps. Hermits lived here in the 16th century. Coquet Island offshore was also supposed to be a retreat for solitary monks.

The castle is the most splendid ruin of its type in Northumberland. It has not been extensively restored as were the castles of Bamburgh and Alnwick. The first fortification on the site was probably in 1139, with a curtain wall being added in the early 13th century. The chief building period came in the late 14th and early 15th centuries and a good deal remains from this, including the highly impressive keep. The castle came into the hands of the Percys in the late 14th century and remained theirs for some 600 years.

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