Northumberland is an administrative country in northern England. It may seem strange but Northumberland has two county towns called Morpeth and Alnwick. It is the northern most country it is separated by Scotland on the Cheviot Hills, the Tweed River, and the boarder on the North Sea. Being on the boarder of Scotland and England, Northumberland has been the site of many battles. As a result, the countryside of this country is doted with a whole bunch of history to be discovered.
The history and the heritage of the Northumberland guards are beautiful and stately castles that are called Bamburgh and Alnwick castles are worth seeing Alnwick Castle is the second largest lived in castle in England and the largest inhabited castle is Windsor Castle. The earliest part of the castle was erected in the 11th century and since 1309, Alnwick Castle is the property of the Percy Family who is the Dukes of Northumberland. It was built to defend England's northern border against the Scottish invasions that took place between 1172 and 1774. Alnwick Castle was besieged by William the Lion, King of Scotland. The second time the castle was recaptured.
It was the first Percy Lord of Alnwick who had Alnwick Castle reconstructed. The Abbot's Tower, The Middle Gateway, and The Constable's Tower are the representatives of this period. In the 15th century Percy rebelled against Henry the sixth and as a result of this he lost the Castle. The original medieval appearance of Alnwick Castle was restored by the architect Tony Sullivan. He carried out many alterations and the interiors were mostly done in a Strawberry Hill gothic style. However, little of this architect's work remains in the principal rooms that were redecorated in a rich Italian style of the Victorian era.
The structure of the castle is very interesting and contains a great amount of buildings that are arranged into two main rings. The inner ring is set around a small courtyard and contains the main rooms. The main apartments contain a great collection of paintings, furniture, and china. Alnwick Castle has two parks. It ha a small park called Pasture Park and a bigger park called Hulne Park that contains the remains of Hulne Priory. After World War Two, there was another park built that was called Alnwick Castle Park. It has a formal garden with cascading fountain; it is the most ambitious garden with a reported development cost of about forty million pounds. The castle is in good shape and it is used for many purposes.
It is the home for the present Dukes; it was used for scenery for some films such as Harry Potter, Blackadder One, Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves and many other films. The castle is opened to the public throughout the summer.
One other highlight in Northumberland is Bamburgh Castle that is perched on a basalt outcrop on the very edge of the North Sea and is considered to be one of the finest castles in England. This castle is a very old and the proof of that is that the first written reference of it was in 547 and it was the seat of an Anglo Saxon ruler named Ida. Later in 993, the original fortification was destroyed by the Vikings. The Normans built the new castle on the site of the castle, thus forming the core of the present castle. Once the Normans lost power, it became the property of the reigning monarch and an important English outpost. It was the first castle in England to be defended by artillery. By the next century, the castle was in ruins and it was not until the 175o's that Lord Crewe restored it. The restoration was completed by Lord Armstrong who was the Victorian industrialist at the end of the 19th century. It continues to be the home of the Armstrong Family.
An interesting fact is that Bamburgh Castle was the original site of Lancelot's Castle called Joyous Garde. If it is true or not it is hard to judge. Today, the castle is opened to visitors and it displays fine collections of china, furniture, glass, paintings and tapestries. The public tour includes the King's Hall, Cross Hall, The Baker house, Bamburgh Castle houses, and The Bamburgh Castle Aviation Artifact Museum. These two castles are a great tourist attraction in Northumberland.