Wark Castle

Wark Castle is one of the most important castles on the border between England and Scotland. Dating back to the 12th century, it was built in a highly strategic position on a rocky outcrop above the River Tweed, overlooking the ford that was a crossing point between the two countries. Such was its defensive importance that over the course of nearly 500 years it was frequently commandeered by the English Crown, which also contributed to its garrisons and its upkeep.

The castle was constantly besieged by the Scots, and just before the Battle of Flodden in 1513 it was captured and partly destroyed by James IV of Scotland. It was rebuilt shortly afterwards. The keep on the motte was so high (four storeys) that a watchman could see Norham Castle, nearly ten miles away.

The remains of the keep of Wark Castle, one of the most important castles on the border between England and Scotland, Carham parish, Northumberland

Today, the castle is in a very poor state. Its most prominent feature is the Mound, containing the ruins of the keep (above), which is still several metres high. To the east of the Mound, the village of Wark sits on what was the outer ward of the castle. To the west lie the remains of St Giles’s medieval chapel and burial ground, which were abandoned in the 18th century. This is a Scheduled Monument but is on private land with no public access.

Wark Castle, too, stands on private land, but it is possible to walk around part of the Mound on public footpaths and the public road. Care must be taken, as not all of the paths are well maintained. Walkers need to be reasonably fit, agile, and mindful of possible slips, trips or falls.

There is more information about Wark Castle on the Flodden 1513 Ecomuseum website.