Alnwick Castle is one of Britain’s most historic and iconic castles – making learning outside of the classroom a memorable and exciting day out. Alnwick Castle is one of the most historical places in Europe. This stone medieval fortress near the Scottish border was built in 1096.

It was built just after the Norman Conquest in the 11th century. Alnwick Castle witnessed the unfolding of sieges, plots, and rebellions. This major fortress was besieged several times, first by King David I of Scotland in 1136 and by the King of Scotland, William the Lion in 1172 and 1174.  During the Battle of Alnwick, King William was captured outside the Castle walls.

Alnwick Castle has been the home of the Percy family for more than 700 years.  It serves as the family home and seat of His Grace the 12th Duke and Duchess of Northumberland and their children. But did you know that Alnwick Castle is also famous for Harry Potter? It is not only the home of the Percy Family but also the home of many witches and wizards of Hogwarts. It was the location of the Hogwarts School in the movie series.
Today, it continues to open its door for visitors who have come a long way to learn the history that this castle cemented over the years.

Alnwick Castle is one of the most historical places in Europe. This stone medieval fortress near the Scottish border was built in 1096.

Alnwick Castle from Lion Bridge. Lion Bridge” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Matthew_Hartley

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Early History

Alnwick Castle used to be a fortified fortress before it became the lavish and sprawling castle that we see today. It was built around 1096 by the Baron of Alnwick, Yves de Vescy. For four centuries the castle served as a military post for soldiers to ensure the safety of the Scottish border.

When the 1st and 2nd Duke of Percy inherited the fortress, they added several towers and baileys to strengthen the fortress even more.  When war broke, several parts of the castle became irreparable.

An 18th-century painting of Alnwick Castle by Canaletto. [Public domain]
The old drawing of the gate from “The History of the Borough, Castle, and Barony of Alnwick.” [Public domain]

In 1776, the castle was renovated from a fortress into a lavish garrison and living space.  Since then, the Percy Family has constantly renovated the interior and exterior of the castle. Despite the changes, the castle remains to be formidable and magical to its visitors.

Isometric View of Alnwick Castle, 1866 [Public domain]

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Alnwick castle is also named as one of the most inhabited castles in Europe, right next to the Windsor Castle. Members of the Percy family continue to live in the castle despite being an attraction to many visitors all over the world. Visitors have access to several sections of the castle as these were used as attractions like the broom training lessons and tours in the Poison Garden.

Alnwick Castle – Northumberland.Tim Felce (Airwolfhound) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
St Michael’s Church, Alnwick” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Matthew_Hartley

The Percy family wished to educate students of all ages on history, culture, and taxidermy. Thus, the royal family shared some parts of the castle with some of the staff of the estate as well as the students from St. Cloud University from the United States.

Filming location for Harry Potter’s Hogwarts. “Alnwick Castle” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by mariosp
Panoramic view of Alnwick Castle from up-close.

Until this time, the Percy family continues to repair and restore the castle, preserving its role in the history of Alnwick and the country. It is no wonder that Alnwick Castle is the best way to learn the story of the past.

Beautiful shot of the castle. “Alnwick Castle” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Matthew_Hartley

Interesting Facts About Alnwick Castle

  • Alnwick Garden is famous for its poisonous plants that come in different kinds and colors. These plants are all collected for educational purposes.
  • Apart from the Harry Potter series, movies like Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Mary Queen of Scots were some of the movies filmed in Alnwick Castle.
  • Alnwick Castle has more than 150 rooms and only a few of them are open for public viewing. One of these must-see rooms is the library which contains 400 years’ worth of history.
  • Aside from the 16,000 books, the castle also houses some of the ancient artifacts from Egypt, the Roman Period and also some fresco from Pompeii.
  • Alnwick Castle ha the largest treehouse in the world. This treehouse is currently called the Potting Shed, a famous restaurant and bar in the Alnwick Garden.  

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