Back in Autumn 2016, when the weather in the UK was only crisp air and blue sky, I went to England as my first visit outside Scotland. It was a quite large group tour so I traveled with many other international students from across Glasgow. The main destination was Alnwick Castle (spelled without the sound of ‘W’) in Northumberland, North East England. If you could spot some of the parts in the castle which I’ll show you later, it was actually in-framed twice in Harry Potter movies, Philosopher’s Stone and Chamber of Secret.
It took us two hours on the couch before arrived in the castle. On our way, we made a quick stop in a small town Dunbar (Dùn Barra). It is located on the southeast coast of Scotland, in the seaside of Dunbar harbor. Despite the gloomy day and ashy sky, plus the sun was refuse to shine, I fancied the small walk around the city with a cup of coffee in my hand. I crossed a short bridge and looked over to the sea. It was such a nice view that I had that morning. We then carried forward our trip to England, en route to Alnwick Castle.
After three hours bus riding, I finally dropped an anchor at Alnwick Castle, just right in time before lunch. I just couldn’t understand how fast the weather changed because when I looked up, the sky was completely blue and the sun was shining so much bright! The dramatic exterior of the castle is amazed me. To also know that there are people living in Alnwick Castle is even more mesmerizing. The castle itself was built in the year of 1096 and become the home to Percy family since 1309. Seeing that the castle is famous for its appearance in two of Harry Potter movies portrayed as Hogwarts Castle, it has also become the filming location for famous British TV series, Downton Abbey.
To make it more obvious that we were literally in ‘Hogwarts’, visitors of Alnwick Castle can even try to play with the ‘flying’ broomstick because the scene which shot in this castle was when Potter learned Quidditch for the first time! I tried this training session but didn’t manage to take a picture of me ‘flying’ with the broomstick just like people did.
The long history of Alnwick Castle has made this fascinating medieval building become the second-largest occupied castle in England after the Windsor Castle. The Duke and Duchess of Northumberland which is known as the Percy family, live in a small part of the castle during the winter season when it is closed for public. I walked to the far back of the castle where there are a short bridge and valorous lion statue. I could see the River Aln flows and the sheep and cows trampling on the hill.
Before heading back to Glasgow, we also took some time and got off the couch at Bamburgh Castle which is known as the icon of Northumberland. Bamburgh Castle set on the coast of the large village of Bamburgh, overlooking the beach. Since 1894, the Kings of Northumbria has lived in this castle and it is owned by the Armstrong family. Again, like many other castles in the UK, Bamburgh Castle is also has been used as film and literature locations. If you could recognize any of these movies, remember that it has been shot in this massive and colossal castle: Ivanhoe (1952, Elizabeth Taylor), El Cid (1961, Sophia Loren), and Elizabeth (1998, Cate Blanchett).
When it comes to ancient buildings, I always wonder how people used to live there back in hundred years ago. Could you just imagine for one sec, Bamburgh Castle was built in the 11th century, including such an excessive history of the battle with The Vikings to the story of Dorothy Forster and the ambitious Lord Armstrong. That eerie feeling I had when I started to recall about the life and death of the people who once settled down in the castle. And here it comes the ghost tales of Bamburgh Castle…
The Ghost Story of Bamburgh Castle: Green Jane
Taking her name from the striking emerald green cloak she wore wrapped around her, Green Jane was sent by her starving family to beg for food at the castle. Approaching the fortified entrance via the perilously steep Miller’s Nick with her baby clutched to her chest, Jane’s plea met with jeers from the waiting guards who turned her away. Whether she stumbled weakened by lack of food or was pushed, Jane fell down the stone steps to her death along with the baby she carried in her arms.
There have been sightings of a young woman carrying a bundle walking down the steep steps close to the Clock Tower. She is seen stumble and cry out before falling down the narrow stairs. When people have rushed to her aid, neither she nor the bundle she was holding cannot be found. The cries of a baby can also be heard in the castle even in the parts that are empty.