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More about Alnwick...

Ten miles north of Rothbury is Alnwick, one of Northumberland's most attractive towns.


Pronounced `Annick', the town grew as a crossing point on the River Aln.

Its Anglo-Saxon name Aln-Wick simply means farm on the Aln.


Throughout its history Alnwick was very much a border town, with an important castle and town walls.

The main reminder of the old own walls today is the Hotspur tower gate.

The street changes its name from Bondgate Without to Bondgate Within, as it passes through the arch.

The Hotspur tower dates from the fifteenth century and commemorates the name of that famous warlike member of the Percy family, nicknamed Harry `Hotspur'.

It was one of four gateways to Alnwick, the others were the Clayport Gate, Pottergate and Narrowgate.


Alnwick Castle, often referred to as the `Windsor of the North', is undoubtedly the best medieval castle in northern England.

It dates from the eleventh century and its construction was begun by a Norman family called the De Vescis, but the castle is much better known as the historic seat of the Percy family.

Northumberland's association with the Percy family began on the nineteenth of November 1309 when Henry De Percy bought the castle and barony of Alnwick from Anthony Bek, Bishop of Durham, who had acquired the land from the De Vescis.

In 1377 Henry, the fourth Lord Percy, became the first post conquest Earl of Northumberland, a title held by the Percys until the seventeenth century. The present Duke of Northumberland still bears the Percy name.


Not far to the north west of Alnwick castle are the extensive grounds of Hulne Park, where there are the remains of both a priory and an abbey. The grounds were mainly landscaped by Capability Brown and feature some of his finest work in his home county.

At the entrance to the park is the William the Lion stone, which marks the point where that king of Scotland, was captured while besieging Alnwick in 1174.

He was not the first Scottish king to fall unlucky at Alnwick, for less than a mile to the north of the town near Alnwick's Lion bridge is Malcolm's Cross, marking the place where King Malcolm Canmore, (1057-1093) was killed during an invasion of England.

Alnwick castle

The Percy family

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