SHORT DAY'S JOURNEY from each other, bordering the Northumbrian coast, stand, in imposing dignity like watchful sentinels on guard, four of the most interesting castles in the “North Countrie:” Warkworth, Dunstan borough, Bamborough and Alnwick. Warkworth, hoary and dismantled, yet ever beautiful, can now show much that tells of its ancient life, its size, and resistive qualities.
Dunstanborough, worn and shattered, is reduced to two huge limbs that cling persistently to the great mass of rock, whose precipitous face to the sea is washed by every advancing tide, or is lashed angrily when the restless waters are disturbed and furious, rush ing always, in calm or storm, into the deep chasms, rumbling and beating as if the heart of the great rock was throbbing and moaning over changed fortunes and decayed greatness. Bamborough, still habitable in its old age serves a useful purpose; but its primitive glories, its regal throng, are now only dim memories. Retaining many of its ancient features, it stands, a noble object, solemn and dignified, on a rocky solitude close by the sea.
Alnwick has had a more fortunate experience. Time has surely laid its hand more softly upon it than the others, or else judicious and kindly care has thwarted the destroyer's corrosive and destructive energy. The exterior still preserves its ancient character, faithfully signifying the purposes of its first foundation. The interior has been transformed to suit the luxurious requirements of modern civilisation. Instead of the rough implements of war and of the chase, which once hung upon the walls, works of refined artistic power and character adorn its halls and princely chambers. Its clustering towers, binding each other in strength, their skylines fretted with embrasures and embattlements, throw the same war. like shadows right to the margin of the Aln as they did when the besieger battered them with his ram, or the defender sent his whizzing arrows through their loopholes. Although battles have frequently raged around it, and the storms and blasts of many centuries have tested its endurance, it stands at this day perfect in all its parts. Outwardly, a striking feature in the landscape; inwardly, rich in priceless gems.
The position of Alnwick Castle is imposing and attractive, -built on an eminence on the south side of the River Aln, in an amphitheatre formed among the hills which reach in "ndulating groups from the sea to the Cheviots. From the summits of its towers, to the north and east, can be seen broad stretches of the Northern Sea to the west, through an opening in the hills, a wide breadth of the dark green sides of the Cheviots can be plainly seen in summer, and in winter, their snow capped crests.
The points of view from which the Castle can be seen are numerous, and in every case there is a change in effect. The objects around seem to combine with striking harmony, however much they differ in character. Seen from the Great North Road, it towers, massive and bold, to an impressive height. From the point chosen in the sketch, “The Castle from the River,” it presents the greatest breadth and variety of features, reflecting in the placid Aln its grey towers and weather-stained ramparts.
The surrounding country abounds with interest; the ancient Briton having left signs and relics of his uncouth life; the conquer ing Roman tracks of his power and influence; the vigorous Saxon of his turbulent semi-civilisation; and the men of the Middle Ages of their raids and monastic tendencies, as many a hill-top, secluded valley, and river side still testify.
Adjoining the Castle are the parks, identified in name by association with the two old Abbeys of Alnwick and Hulne. The sole remnant of Alnwick Abbey is its gate-house, standing in a sheltered meadow by the Aln's side—a solitary yet dignified witness of monastic power. About a mile and a-half further up the river stands the ruins of Hulne Abbey. [137-38]
“Alnwick Castle.” 30 (9 August 1884): 137-41. Hathi Trust online version of a copy in the New York Public Library. Web. 11 July 2021.
Last modified 12 July 2021