Dunstanburgh Castle


Today I thought I’d share some images taken at Dunstanburgh Castle on Northumberland’s beautiful Heritage Coast. The castle is the largest in Northumberland. In 1313, Earl Thomas of Lancaster, cousin of Edward II of England began construction and John of Gaunt added to it later in the century.


During the Wars of the Roses, the castle was badly damaged and it slowly fell into decay. The castle is now owned by the National Trust and in the care of English Heritage. It is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and a Grade I listed building.

Dunstanburgh Castle

This beautiful and evocative ruin can hardly fail to inspire, perched on a rocky outcrop above the coast and the plain below.  Some great painters have immortalised it, including Turner and, one of my favourite contemporary artists, Michael Morgan.


Lilburn Tower, the most intact of the castle buildings, seems to demand a moody black and white treatment. Can you imagine a knight riding along that path, perhaps to rescue a princess from the tower?  I kept thinking instead of Macbeth, riding to meet the three weird sisters, perhaps because Roman Polanski’s film, Macbeth was shot in the area.


Dunstanburgh Castle is reached via a footpath from Craster, a sleepy fishing village to the South.  Or via the beautiful sands of Embleton Bay to the North.


I chased down a rainbow there on our visit, only just managing one hasty exposure before the colours faded, from which I made this, rather more painterly than usual, image with a little help from Topaz Simplify:


For all that I enjoyed the, admittedly rather over the top, colours of the last two images, it remains, for me, the black and white images that suit this location more.  If you get the chance to visit this atmospheric ruin, I thoroughly recommend it.

Lilburn Tower

26 thoughts on “Dunstanburgh Castle

  1. Great shots, and yes, the B&W suit the location.

    I am curious, though . . . how fast was that rainbow moving? I’ve had a few move on me, but the nature of the optics involved would have then (normally) sweep side-to-side, rather than away from you.

    Although, I did have on (in Hawaii) that actually advance toward me as the cloud was being blown toward us between two spires/hills.

    • Hi. I really can’t remember! These shots are from 2009. Really, the rainbow shot is pretty poor quality. Only even shareable after some Topaz. You should have seen me, driving frantically to get to the coast before the colours faded. On second thoughts, perhaps it’s better that you didn’t 😉

  2. You know what I love most about these shots? The dramatic skies. They add so much drama too the shot and create such a lovely feeling to them. Excellent work.

  3. It’s times like this I want to move to the UK – the closest we have to castles is abandoned factories from not that long ago, and it’s just not the same. Your photos are superb.

    I can see why you enjoy Morgan’s work – which is saying something, as I’m less often appreciative of contemporary artists.

    • Thank you, Sid. Yes, Northumberland’s already beautiful coast is dotted with these historical gems, making it a very special place. The weather is usually atrocious, however! We were very lucky on our trip.

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