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 by Thirwall for the building
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 Durham.
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
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 borders
raids, a servant hid the family treasure
down a deep well, where it remains
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 £4000.
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 building.
The castle sits right next to the
Hadrian's Wall Path and the Pennine Way,
guaranteeing many thousands of visitors