Prudhoe Castle is a tower keep fortification made up of two baileys (courtyards) with the keep and other buildings, including a gatehouse and barbican, enclosed within a curtain wall and outlying protective ditches. The name probably derives from Prud (Proud) Hoh (Ridge or Height) which makes sense as the castle is positioned on a notable ridge.
William the Conqueror assigned the lands in the Redesdale area to one of his relatives, Robert de Umfraville shortly after the battle of Hastings (1066AD). It’s generally believed that the first castle would have been a wooden motte and bailey fort but evidence suggest that parts of this were being replaced by stone as early as 1100AD. It was Odinel de Umfraville who fully replace the timber fort with a stone castle between 1161 and 1182.
In 1173 ‘William the Lion’, King of Scotland, invaded England, to enforce his claim to the Earldom of Northumberland. He attacked the castle on two separate occasions but failed losing many men. Odinel himself had escaped the castle, rounded up a small army and later captured William near Alnwick.
Odinel’s son, Richard, was one of the barons who defied King John, and as a result the estates were taken over by the crown until 1217, the year after King John’s had died.
Gilbert, the last of the Umfraville barons died in 1381 and when his widow, Maud, married Henry de Percy, the 3rd Lord of Alnwick, Prudhoe Castle passed into the ownership of the Percy dynasty.
Over the following centuries the Percy family would lose and regain the castle on at least three separate occasions.
There is a story that when Oliver Cromwell visited Prudhoe after the Civil War he was so upset at the sight of such a strong remaining castle that he fired a cannonball at it. Repairs and maintenance were rare and by 1776 it was said to be little more than a ruin.
During 1808 the Percy Family began a program of repairs and demolished many of the unsafe structures and built a Georgian mansion house connected to the keep. In 1966 the castle ruins were given over to the Crown and are currently in the care of English Heritage.
Ghost and Hauntings
Legend has it that a “Grey Lady” still walks the corridors of the Georgian mansion at night. Who she is remains a matter of speculation. There is a road in the nearby Castlefields Estate that was named ‘Grey Lady Walk’ as a reference to this haunting.
Prudhoe is said to have a secret east-to-west underground passage linking it with Bywell Castle around three miles away. This would mean that at some point it would have to go under the river Tyne. Sadly, the actual tunnel has never be uncovered and many believe it never existed.
Camping and Caravanning Club Site
B6320 (Rd), Bellingham, Hexham
Northumberland, England, NE48 2JY
+44 (0)1434 220 175
- Address: Prudhoe Castle, Prudhoe, Northumberland, England, UK - NE42 6NA
- GPS: 54.96522610000002,-1.8586061343933125
- Phone: +44 01661 833459
- Part of UK: England
- Sat Nav Postcode: NE42 6NA
- Entrance Fees: Yes
- Disabled Access: Fair
- Visibility from Road: Poor