OTTERBURN CASTLE

Otterburn Castle was built by Robert Umfraville in the form an an earth and timber pele. This was upgraded into a substantial tower in the late thirteenth century and successfully withstood an assault by Scottish troops just prior to the Battle of Otterburn (1388). The castle was demolished and replaced with Otterburn Tower in the nineteenth century.

History

 

Otterburn Castle was built by Robert Umfraville, a cousin of William I, circa-1086. He held land in Tynedale and Redesdale making Otterburn an ideal location for his administrative centre - not only was it on the main route to Newcastle but was well connected to his other territories by the adjacent River Rede. This early structure was probably a simple earth and timber pele. In the thirteenth century this was rebuilt into a stone tower and the upgrades seem to have been credible for a survey of 1308 noted the site was "very strong".

 

In 1388 Otterburn Castle was owned by Sir Robert de Umfraville, Lord of Redesdale. It was attacked by Scottish forces on 19 August 1388 under the command of Sir James Douglas, Earl of Douglas. He had a led a raiding party deep into England and had fought a dual with his rival - Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland - outside Newcastle. Douglas had won and taken Percy's pennon - a banner attached to the end of his lance that bore his coat of arms (a blue lion rampant) - and withdrew towards Scotland. Otterburn Castle withstood the attempts made against it and an army under Percy soon arrived to engage the Scots. At the subsequent Battle of Otterburn an attack on the Scottish camp was led by Thomas Umfraville, younger brother of the castle's owner. Ultimately the English were defeated although the imminent arrival of English reinforcements under the Prince-Bishop of Durham meant the Scots withdrew leaving Otterburn Castle in English hands.

 

At some point in the late-fifteenth century the castle came into the possession of Clan Hall. Little of note is recorded there until the 1715 Jacobite rebellion when the then owner, Jack Hall, was accused of supporting the rebels. Despite pleading his innocence he was executed at Tyburn for High Treason on 13 July 1716. The castle remained with the Hall family however and was augmented with a farm house in the mid-eighteenth century. The site was sold to Thomas James JP in 1830 and he commissioned extensive modifications. The castle was demolished and replaced by a new Otterburn Tower which obliterated the remains of the former medieval fortress. It is this castellated structure that is visible today.

 

Bibliography

 

Burne, A.H (2005). Battlefields of England. Pen and Sword Books Ltd, Barnsely.

Dodds, J.F (1999). Bastions and Belligerents. Keepdate Publishing, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Douglas, D.C and Rothwell, H (ed) (1975). English Historical Documents Vol 3 (1189-1327). Routledge, London.

King, C.D.J (1983). Castellarium anglicanum: an index and bibliography of the castles in England, Wales and the Islands. Vol 2: Norfolk-Yorkshire and the islands.  Kraus International Publications.

Historic England (2016). Otterburn Tower. Listing Report 1156191. Swindon.

Jackson, M.J (1992). Castles of Northumbria. Carlisle.

Rowland, T.H (1987). Medieval Castles, Towers, Peles and Bastles of Northumberland. Sandhill Press.

Salter, M (1997). The Castles and Tower Houses of Northumberland. Folly Publications

What's There?

The early castle has been completely obliterated by the nineteenth century tower. This structure is now a hotel and restaurant open to patrons and visible from the main road. Roman altar stones, possible brought from the site of High Rochester Roman Fort, are visible in the grounds.

Restaurant. The tower is now used as a restaurant and hotel.

Castellated Tower. The tower is a purely nineteenth century structure with the castellations added for effect not defence.

Getting There

Otterburn Castle is found just off the A696 adjacent to the Border Reiver store. There is on site car parking for patrons of the restaurant/hotel or alternatively on-road parking is possible.

Otterburn Castle

NE19 1NS

55.232352N 2.177913W