Thirwall Castle

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Thirwall Castle is situated about 20 miles east of Carlisle, 40 miles west of Newcastle, by the village of Greenhead in northern England.

The castle is normally visited by people also visiting Hadrian's Wall, as it is situated about 1 mile from the Roman Army Museum.

The image below is from the Walltown Quarry car park a few hundred yards up the single lane road from the Roam Army Museum.

That is Hadrian's Wall running over the hilltops on the left. This is a popular car park for visiting Thirwall Castle as well.

The bus is the local tourist bus that runs between Hexam, 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 castle.

The path is part of the Pennine Way and Hadrian's Wall Path.

Thirwall Castle Map

Thriwall Castle car park image

The image below is of Thirwall Castle from the path leading down from the Walltown Quarry car park.

Thirwall Castle from the path

The image below is of Thirwall Castle from the loose surface road that runs past the castle.

Thirlwall Castle image

The image below 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.

Thirwall Castle road image

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 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 borders 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 £4000.

The 1700s saw some of the first tourists visiting the castle ruins along with Hadrian's Wall.

Thirwall Castle then became a popular spot for artists, and images were used on postcards to promote the area for tourism.

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 each year.

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