Friday, 22 October 2010

The sad castle

Harbottle Castle was built by the Umfraville family on the order of Henry II around 1120. A major medieval route into Scotland, Clennel Street, passes Harbottle, and the Roman Road from Low Learchild to High Rochester crosses the valley at Holystone a few miles to the south. Only 12 miles from the border, it was well used to Scottish aggression.
The motte is located on the south side of a kidney-shaped bailey, later divided into two halves by a crosswall defining the inner and outer bailey.
Large sandstone blocks bonded with hard grey-brown gritty mortar made up the crosswall, which was reported as 9 yards high in 1536. It once had a tower at the Nort-east corner. Back in 1318 damage by the Scots under Robert the Bruce was so severe that no building was left at Harbottle to contain prisoners of Redesdale justice and Prudhoe Castle, also an Umfraville property and some distance away on horseback, was used for the next twenty years.
By 1400 Harbottle Castle was habitable and defensible again, and housed 20 men-at-arms and 40 archers. In 1432 conscript builders and labourers restored the castle walls. In 1435 the Umfraville line died out for lack of an heir, and the castle passed through the female line to the Tailbois family in Norfolk. Like most absentee landlords, the family spent neither time nor money at Harbottle. William Tailbois fought for the Lancastrians at the battle of Hexham in 1464, and was executed in Newcastle.
By 1509 Lord Dacre was in residence and in 1515 ex-Queen Margaret Tudor-Stewart fled from Edinburgh to the Border where she was met by Lord Dacre and escorted to Harbottle. She gave birth to Lady Margaret Douglas within a fortnight of her arrival.
By 1523 the castle was in sore decay once more and by 1538 it was declared unfit for the Keeper of Redesdale to inhabit. But as the Anglo-Scottish wars developed around 1543, the Castle was required and repairs were made. Harbottle passed into the care of King Henry in 1546. More repairs, and provision made for artillery. By 1552 it was reported as the best residence for a Warden of the Middle Marches. Elizabeth spent money on it, but by 1604, when the crowns had merged, there was little use for Harbottle and decay began in earnest. By the 1700s stone was quarried away to build new homes in the village.

1 comment:

kungfudonut said...

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