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Castles and Defence

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Bamburgh Castle Photo: Gavin Duthie


The Vikings' raid on Holy Island in 793 was a precursor to instability in the early medieval period with individual kingdoms battling for supremacy. Whilst upstanding physical remains from this period are few, the Norman invasion of England had a profound impact on the built heritage of the coast.

Border Reivers

Disputes between England and Scotland which began in the 14th century, started nearly three centuries of warfare and raiding. The Northumberland coast assumed a strategic importance that was to lead to the construction of the major castles of Bamburgh, Dunstanburgh and Warkworth and the town defences of Berwick. A fort was constructed on Holy Island in 1570-72, which formed the basis for Lindisfarne Castle.

20th Century

During the twentieth century the requirements of defence were again to leave a built legacy on the coast. With the long sandy beaches along the coast seen as a possible location for invasion, extensive concrete and wire defences were erected during the Second World War.

The wary vigilance of the Cold War has also left a legacy on the coast at sites such as Newton Point.

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