High on a 150 ft (46 m) ridge, this castle once controlled the route north and south
where it crossed the River Tyne.
It is thought that Ordinel d’Umfraville originally built the castle during the reign of King Henry I.
In 1174 the castle was besieged by King William, (Lion of the Scots) because Ordinel II, son of Robert d’Umfraville refused to help him in his claim for the Earldom of Northumberland. Not prepared for a long siege The ‘Lion’ growled and went back to Scotland empty handed. By the following year Ordinel had substantially strengthened the castle and the Scottish King, thinking he still had a chance of taking Prudhoe, attacked it again but after a three day siege, he and his army, frustrated and bruised, licked their wounds and returned home. Flushed with success, Ordinel continued strengthening the castle’s defences and
constructed the stone towered keep and a great hall.
On Ordinel’s death in 1182, he was succeeded by his son Richard but this inheritance was short lived, because Richard stood against King John in the Barons War and his property was forfeited to the crown. On the death of John in 1217 it was returned to Richard.
In 1316, King Edward II granted Robert d’Umfraville 700 marks to maintain a garrison of 40 men at arms and 80 horsemen at Prudhoe but by 1381, the last of the male line had died out, the property going, by marriage, to Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland.
Over the following years it continued in the possession of the Percys, though in the later years it was rented out and became ruinous. About 1808 Hugh Percy, 2nd Duke of Northumberland, carried out extensive repairs and built a Georgian mansion adjoining the keep.
In 1966 the castle was given to the crown and is now in the care of English Heritage and is open to the public.
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