The dramatic coast of Northumberland, England’s most northerly county, is studded with a chain of ancient castles and fortresses, giving testament to its tumultuous history as an independent Northern English kingdom that once stretched from Edinburgh to the Humber.
Dunstanburgh Castle, once one of the grandest fortifications in all England, now stands as the UK’s largest ruin. Built in 1313 by the Earl of Lancaster as a symbol of his rebellion against the King, the Castle is defended on two sides by a sheer cliff and the crashing sea. Extended by John O’Gaunt in the late 1300s, the castle was fiercely contested between Lancastrians and Yorkists in the Wars of the Roses before it was abandoned and fell into decay.
Despite its ruined state, the castle still presents an imposing site, its blackened walls scowling down over the spectacular Northumbrian coastline. Visited only once by the artist J M W Turner as part of an eight-week trip to the North of England, Turner was inspired to return to Dunstanburgh again and again in his paintings. Today its rocky cliffs provide a home for thousands of birds ranging from kittiwakes and razorbills to fulmars and shags. Eider ducks, with their chicks, nest on the stony shores nearby while patrols of grey seals visit the off-lying islands.
Listed as one of the top 10 walks in the UK, the six-mile route from Low Newton-by-the-Sea leads to the tiny village of Craster - famous as the home of L Robson and Sons, fourth generation traditional fish-smokers and the producers of the legendary Craster kipper.
Deborah Warner, March 2012
What the public thought...
“I’m not really into poetry but this is amazing, just incredible. It’s good for the soul.”
“We had two 13 yr old girls with us and we all thought it was ‘well good’ as the girls expressed it. Thank you for putting on the installation, we found it thought-provoking and unique as well as thoroughly enjoyable.”
Peace Camp at Dunstanburgh Castle
Peace Camp 2012: Dunstanburgh Castle from Artichoke Trust on Vimeo.