Barnard Castle



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Bits and pieces of Bernard de Balliol’s castle still exist, as well as the 14th-century Round Tower and also the 15th-century Great Chamber, where you can see the boar badge of King Richard III (AKA Shakespeare's Richard ‘Crookback’), carved into the stonework of one of the windows. You can see what attracted de Balliol to the site – it is protected by steep cliffs, and as a bonus it has fine views across the River Tees. Embellished by sturdy walls and deep ditches, it was a formidable fortress, on a site covering more than six acres. It was a sought-after prize, and it changed hands many times. Through the centuries it was claimed by Alexander II of Scotland, the powerful prince-bishops of Durham, the powerful Neville earls of Warwick, and finally Richard III. After his demise at Bosworth in 1485 and the end of the long Wars of the Roses, the castle fell into disrepair.

Barnard Castle


  • Parking nearby
  • Facilities: Level access with ramps, set down at main gate for wheelchair users, sensory and tactile garden
  • Accessible toilets
Opening times
  • Open all year
  • Opening Times: Open Apr-Sep, daily 10-6; Oct, daily 10-5; Nov-Mar, Sat-Sun 10-4. Closed 24-26 Dec & 1 Jan

About the area

Discover County Durham

County Durham reaches halfway across England, from the North Pennines in the west, to the sea in the east. Much of it is very sparsely inhabited, and is naturally beautiful; a mix of rolling hills, monumental valleys, lush farmland and unforgiving moors. It’s strong on industrial heritage as well, and remnants of the now all-but-vanished mining industry are everywhere.

The City of Durham has a magnificent Cathedral which can be traced back to the establishment of a church in the 10thcentury as the final resting place of the miraculous remains of Saint Cuthbert. The Cathedral, alongside the city’s Castle (an 11th-century structure that now houses University College), were created a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986. The area’s mining past is fully documented at the Durham Mining Museum; an amazing resource. Bishop Auckland is the other major settlement, and for centuries was run almost as an independent state by the powerful Bishops of Durham. These days it is still a bustling town with plenty of shops, historical interest and events like the annual food festival. The coastal town of Peterlee is unusual; it was set up as a new town to house Durham miners after WW2. 

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