Belford and District Local History Society

ROLLICKING ROMP: There was an excellent turnout for Belford and District Local History Society’s first meeting of 2012, to hear Jim Herbert give us a rollicking romp through the development and history of Berwick Castle.

The castle seems to have been built in the 1120s by King David of Scotland.

By the end of the 13th century, however, reports suggest that it was somewhat run down with both buildings and contents in need of improvement - even a flagon of mouldy Rhenish wine was recorded.

During Edward I’s Scottish wars it became a massive supply base for his army, storing vast quantities of beef and grain, and recorded as baking 518 loaves a day.

By the early 16th century the castle was again falling into disrepair as more modern systems of defending the town took precedence.

The surveyors’ report of 1538 recorded fears of some of the castle buildings collapsing, and by the time of Edward VI, there were plans to replace it altogether, although these were never completed due to the building of the Elizabethan walls.

The final flourishing of the castle was at the beginning of the 17th century when George Home, Earl of Dunbar, became James VI and I’s chief minister for Scotland, and built a Jacobean palace within the castle walls.

This was destroyed during the Civil War, and stones used to build Berwick’s parish church.

So it was that, when the railway reached Berwick in the mid-19th century, although it did indeed run through the castle precincts, tales of it destroying the castle are somewhat exaggerated.

Our speaker at our next meeting in the Community Club, on the changed date of February 22, will be Ms Kim Bibby-Wilson on Northumbrian Language.

She will provide examples of the sounds, grammar and vocabulary which makes Northumbrian a separate language from standard English, and the closest surviving language to that spoken by the Angles when they settled here in the fifth and sixth centuries. Visitors (£2) welcome.