Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Haunted Castles - Featherstone Castle

As the third feature in this short series of posts on haunted castles of Britain, I have chosen a little known castle in the county of Northumberland - Featherstone Castle.

Northumberland plays host to many medieval castles including some of the most famous and breathtaking castles in Britain - Alnwick Castle and Bamburgh Castle . However, at the very edge of the county close to the border with Cumbria is where you will find Featherstone Castle.

This is one of those ghost stories that makes you sit back and pause to think for a while. Essentially, it's a tragic love story but one that had devastating consequences not just for the unhappy couple but for many others around them. It's for this reason that I chose to feature Featherstone Castle in this series.

Dating back to the 1400's when its construction began under Thomas de Featherstonehaugh, the castle remained in his family for centuries. It was in the 17th century that an event occurred giving rise to the castle's claim to being haunted. The story involves young love, a pre-arranged marriage, desire for revenge and murder. To read the full story go to our Featherstone Castle page.

Northumberland has another medieval castle with a tragic love story as the basis for its haunting - read about Warkworth Castle.

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Monday, March 31, 2008

A Medieval Sunset & Tragic Love Story

A beautiful sunset is always a pleasure to be savoured - but a medieval one? On a recent day trip to Northumberland, having visited the medieval castles of Alnwick, Bamburgh and Dunstanburgh earlier in the day, we had started heading inland for the journey back to Cumbria. We knew that Warworth was not too far away and because of its importance as a medieval castle (built in the 12th century), we decided to call in. It had been a sunny, cloudless though cold day and so it was that, without too much of a detour, we managed to get to Warkworth Castle in time to watch a glorious sunset.

When we arrived there was no-one there - only us. Overhead the sky was still blue and the setting sun cast a glorious golden light onto the castle. We couldn't gain entrance as it was well past opening time but without anyone to disturb us we were able to walk around the perimeter and down to the river in the direction of the hermitage.

I'll never forget the quiet of the early evening and how the only discernible movement around the castle was that of several black crows high up on top of the ruined walls; they were enjoying swooping down on the air currents and then back up again, clearly enjoying the last remnants of daylight before settling down to roost for the night.

Watching the crows I was reminded of the legend of Warkworth Castle's ghost, Sir Bertram de Bothal (of Bothal castle), a medieval knight whose story is one of the most tragic you will ever hear. Set in the 14th century when the powerful Percy family had taken up residence at Warkworth, Bertram fell in love with Lady Isobel Widdrington (sometimes referred to as Lady Isobella). By a weird quirk of fate, Bertram accidentally killed both his brother and Isobel and retreated to Warkworth for sanctuary. There he retreated to a nearby place carved out of rock, known as the hermitage and there he is reputed to have died of a broken heart, having carved into the rock the words:

'my tears have been my meat by day and by night'

The scar left by this tragedy is the ghost that is said to haunt the castle and its grounds - the ghost of Sir Bertram himself. A more detailed account of the legend of Warkworth can be found on our web page: Haunted Warkworth Castle.

There's also an interesting extract about Sir Bertram on Google Book Search

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Medieval Blog Launch

As one of 4 ‘medieval’ enthusiasts, I’m delighted to welcome you to the Blog of medieval-castle.com. Our website has been in existence for a number of years and we are committed to developing it to its full potential with ever more information, photographs and special features such as our haunted castles and fantasy castles sections.

Medieval history offers many different things worthy of study – from castle design to the many aspects of medieval life, warfare and weaponry through to the medieval crusades and then on to medieval literature, medieval music and medicine. The list is almost endless!

One thing that makes medieval study really exciting is that we are privileged to be able to see tangible evidence from that era – suits of armour, medieval art, medieval weapons and of course the castles themselves, though often only ruins.

Photo: Caerlaverock Castle - the kind of moated medieval castle that gets medieval enthusiasts excited!

I recently made a trip with my family to the Northumberland coast and saw several amazing medieval castles – Alnwick Castle, Bamburgh Castle, Dunstanburgh Castle and Warkworth Castle. The last 3 are reputed to be seriously haunted so it was just as well that we visited them during daylight! Possibly the most intruiging thing that emerged from the trip was that each castle was very different from the others - in design, architectural features, location and even atmosphere. So much so that I can’t cover them in this one article so I plan to write about each experience separately.

The first one is going to be Alnwick Castle, a truly breathtaking place to visit.

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