Originally a refuge for the Monks of Lindisfarne at the beginning of the 11th century.

The castle, originally a motte and bailey fort, was begun in 1072 by Waltheof, Earl of Northumberland. Later William the Conqueror gave its custody to Walcher, Bishop of Durham.  At this time the keep would probably have been a square wooden tower resting on four corner posts.

RICHARD de WOLVESTON the Ingeniator (engineer / architect) was in the employ of Bishop Pudsey of Durham as chief architect from 1170 until 1187.  He was one of the foremost designers during the 12th century and works attributed to him here are the arcaded Constables Hall and the old guest hall, whose magnificent doorway is still preserved.

From about 1360 JOHN LEWYN the master mason was in charge of works under Bishop Hatfield and is thought to have rebuilt the keep in response to the fear of Scottish raids at this time.

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