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DUNSTANBURGH CASTLE

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Dunstanburgh Castle was built for Thomas, second Earl of Lancaster in 1313-25. The castle was remodelled as was the keep in three phases in the 14th century. The castle's curtain wall encloses 4ha, but field survey confirmed the existence of a 13.3ha outer ward enclosed by earthen defences and 3 meres. Thomas of Lancaster's Gatehouse is situated at the SW corner backed by a small inner ward, directing towards a harbour. John of Gaunt's Gatehouse is situated on the west curtain beyond the inner ward, approached by a barbican with a mantlet wall running to Lancaster's Gatehouse. Constable's Tower, the commanding officer's residence, lies midway along the south curtain. Behind this are buildings for him and his staff. At the SE corner is Egyncleugh Tower which commanded a third gate with a drawbridge across the moat. Lilburn Tower stands at the north end of the west curtain. This was a watchtower and a residence for soldiers, with a postern accessing the northern perimeter. The castle was built from sandstone with a whinstone rubble core, with limestone in the east curtain. The newly recognised meres surrounded the castle were defences, fish stores, and had ornamental value. Lancaster may have been using Arthurian mythology through this watery landscape. Earl Thomas, who may have built the castle as a political statement against Edward II's weak rulership, was executed in 1322 and the fortress passed to royalty. John of Gaunt, as lieutenant of the Marches towards Scotland, ordered the late 14th century alterations. Before completion, the castle withstood a Scottish attack in 1384. Held for the Lancastrians in the Wars of the Roses, Dunstanburgh fell to the Earl of Warwick after a siege. In WW2 a pillbox was built and a corps of the Royal Armoured Corps installed amongst the ruins. Finds of Romano-British pottery indicate earlier occupation. The south curtain wall may have followed the line of a promontory fort rampart. In the care of English Heritage.

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