Thirwall Castle is about 20 miles
east of Carlisle, 40 miles west of
Newcastle, 3 miles north of
the town of Greenhead in northern
The Castle is normally visited by
people also visiting Hadrian's Wall, as it is
situated about 1 mile from the Roman Army Museum.
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The image top is from the Walltown
Quarry car park a few hundred yards up
the single lane road from the Roam Army
That is Hadrian's Wall running over the
hilltops on the left. This is a popular car
park for visiting Thirwall Castle as
The Bus is the local tourist bus that runs
between Hexham, Haltwhistle and the top
Hadrian Wall attractions.
To visit the Castle, exit the entry gates,
turn right, and after about 50 yards, follow
the footpath to the left. It is about 1 mile
downhill to the Thirwall Castle.
The Path is part of the Pennine Way and
Hadrian's Wall Path.
The second image is of Thirwall Castle
from the path leading down from the Walltown
Quarry car park.
The third image is of Thirwall Castle with
the Farm next to it. There are a few Cottages
around the Castle as well.
There is now a car park for the Castle
between the small villages of Greenhead and
Gilsland. From that car park, you have to
cross the railway by footpath, then walk
round about 200 yards.
History of Thirwall Castle
The earliest parts of Thirwall Castle were
built in the 1100s. That building was
strengthened in the 1300s by John Thirwall to
serve as his family stronghold. Much of the
stone used was from Hadrian's Wall.
The Castle was built during the Scottish
Wars of Independence, the first being
1296–1328 where William Wallace and Robert
the Bruce both led Scottish forces into the
north of England on raids.
Edward I of England (Longshanks) visited
Thirwall Castle on the 20th September 1306,
soon after Robert the Bruce had declared
himself King of Scotland, setting off another
series of battles.
The second war 1332–1357, saw the Scottish
King David II, son of Robert the Bruce, also
lead his forces into the north of England
with well documented battles at Hexham and
There is no record of any of these raids
attacking Thirwall Castle.
The Thirwall's were known for fighting in
the English Army of the time, with the most
famous being Sir Percival Thirwall, killed at
the Battle of Bosworth on the 22nd August
1485, during the Wars of the Roses.
The Castle would also have been needed to
repel the Border Reivers or Raiders. These
raiders were Scottish and English, stealing
livestock and valuables from Farms and
Landowners along the Borders area from the
1200s to the 1600s. King James 1st of
Scotland and 6th of England, is said to have
brought an end to the Reivers.
A story goes, during one of the border
raids, a servant hid the family Treasure down
a deep Well, where it remains today.
During the English Civil War 1642–1651,
Thirwall was occupied by Scots forces. The
Thirwall's are said to have settled at
Newbiggin near Hexham at that time, never
returning to live in the Castle.
Thirwall Castle is said to have fell into
disrepair from that time.
Eleanor Thirwall and her husband Matthew
Swinburne, sold the Castle and Estate to the
Earl of Carlisle in 1748 for £4,000.
The 1700s saw some of the first tourists
visiting the Castle ruins along with
Thirwall Castle then became a popular spot
for Artists, and images were used on
postcards to promote the area for
The Northumberland National Park Authority
took over the Castle in 1999, so as to try
and prevent any further decline in the
The Castle sits right next to the
Hadrian's Wall Path and the Pennine Way,
guaranteeing many thousands of visitors each