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News from a wargamer with a special interest in the military history of the Balkans. It mainly covers my current reading and wargaming projects. For more detail you can visit the web sites I edit - Balkan Military History and Glasgow & District Wargaming Society. Or follow me on Twitter @Balkan_Dave
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Saturday 14 January 2023

Northumbrian castle trail

 I was travelling down to Newcastle today, as Fulham are playing at St James Park tomorrow - my nearest away game. As the trains are a shambles on a Sunday, I decided to drive and have a look at the castles on the way. I last visited this coast a long time ago.

My first stop was Lindisfarne. Famous as the first recorded Viking raid on the priory, a job Henry VIII finished off! This isn't really a castle. It was a Tudor fort built to keep my ancestors from Scotland away, and then much altered by Sir Edwin Lutyens in 1901. Still, it looks the part.

The castle

Ruined priory

What looks like WW2 tank traps nearby. Hard to believe anyone thought the Germans would land panzers this far north.

The must-see castle on this coast is Bamburgh. For The Last Kingdom fans, this is Bebbanberg. The current castle is medieval, besieged during the war of the Roses, and much renovated by the Armstrong family. There is a small museum to their better-known armaments business. Their cash did an impressive job.

View from the south

A later crossbow. Part of a fine collection of weaponry.

A good collection of armour as well. Here are a couple of pikeman's corselets.

A large model of the Vickers Light Tank in desert camo. 

And the final castle of the day was Dunstanburgh. A bit of a hike in the wind from Caster village. 

I finished my trip for today at Alnwick. Sadly the castle is closed, but I'll do Warkworth tomorrow morning. They have an excellent second-hand bookshop in the old station building (Barter Books), with fantastic cake. A few purchases were made, including a biography of Leopold 1 that I hadn't seen before. 

I hope my wife doesn't read this. She may notice the asking price for this wargame classic and look more carefully at my bookshelves!


  1. You lucky man - you did well to get to Barter Books and find it not rammed full of customers (admittedly not all actually buying books). We called in back in ‘22 but only for a fleeting visit - as our dogs much prefer Grandad entertaining them rather that scanning shelves full o’ books.
    Another of my interests is castles - preferably ruined ones. We also visited Bamburgh last year too. Dunstanburgh (and Walkworth, Norham, Edlingham, and a whole load of others) was “ticked off” my castles list years before that.
    Good luck with the football match. Our local team - Sheffield Wednesday - beat Newcastle in the FA cup last weekend, but the Magpies do seem to be playing much better football of late.

    1. The buffet was pretty busy. I suspect they make more money from that. We will pass on the footie!

  2. Sounds like my kind of weekend. Castles, bookshops, football. I miss my regular trips to Craven Cottage (1990s/early 2000s) as my club (Grimsby) plummeted 3 divisions out of the Football League. Used to love a pre-match pint and natter in the 8 Bells by Putney Bridge tube.
    You can explain to your wife that the Grant book price shows what a good investment your collection is.

    1. I somehow doubt that strategy will work! I'm not from London but fell in love with the ground when we moved down to London from Liverpool as a teenager. The old third division, and we very nearly went the same way out of the league. Such is footie!