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Google Map of Dunstanburgh Castle near Craster

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Dunstanburgh Castle is a 14th century castle situated on a coastal headland in Northumberland. The castle was built for Thomas, second Earl of Lancaster, with the first phase of construction taking place between 1313-1325. The gatehouse was remodelled as the castle's keep in the early 1380s, with a new gatehouse built. This remodelling was undertaken by Henry of Holme for John of Gaunt. The site of the castle encloses an area of 11 acres.

Thomas of Lancaster's Gatehouse is situated at the south west corner backed by a small inner ward. John of Gaunt's Gatehouse is situated on the west curtain immediately beyond the inner ward, approached by a barbican with a mantlet wall running to an outer gate adjoining Lancaster's Gatehouse. Constable's Tower, the residence of the castle's commanding officer, lies midway along the south curtain.

Behind the tower is a complex of buildings for his own use and that of his staff. At the south east corner is Egyncleugh Tower, an important tower which commanded the 'clough' under its east wall. Lilburn Tower stands at the north end of the west curtain. This was a watchtower and a residence for soldiers, with a postern at its foot.

The castle was built from sandstone with a whinstone rubble core, except for limestone in the east curtain. Earl Thomas, who seems to have built the castle as a refuge rather than a residence, was executed in 1322 and the fortress passed into royal hands. John of Gaunt, as lieutenant of the Marches towards Scotland, ordered the late 14th century alterations. Before the alterations were complete the castle withstood a Scottish attack in 1384.

Held for the Lancastrians in the Wars of the Roses, Dunstanburgh fell to the Earl of Warwick after a siege. In the Second World War a pillbox and foxhole was built and a corps of the Royal Armoured Corps were installed amongst the ruins. Finds of Romano-British pottery indicate earlier occupation of the headland.


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