1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bamburgh

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BAMBURGH, or Bamborough, a village in the Berwick-upon-Tweed parliamentary division of Northumberland, England, on the sea-coast, 2½ m. E. of Belford station on the North Eastern railway, and 54 m. N. of Newcastle. It was a royal borough previous to the Norman Conquest and returned two members to parliament in the reign of Edward I. Its ancient castle occupies a magnificent position close to the sea on an almost perpendicular rock, 150 ft. in height, accessible only on the south-east side.

The first erection is ascribed by the Saxon chronicles to King Ida of Northumberland. The castle buildings are of various dates from the Norman period and are of great strength and dignity. They include a massive keep and the remains of an apsidal chapel dedicated to St Peter. In the village, the church is dedicated to St Aidan, who was bishop of Lindisfarne or Holy Island, which lies off the coast to the north, about 634. It is a fine cruciform building, mainly of Early English date, with a crypt beneath the chancel. In the churchyard is a monument to Grace Darling (1815-1842), the brave rescuer of some of the crew of the ship "Forfarshire" in 1838. The Longstone Lighthouse, where her father was keeper, stands on an outer rock of the Farne Islands, which stretch north-eastward for 6 m. from the coast at Bamburgh.

The town of Bamburgh (Bebbanburgh) sprang up round the ancient castle. During the struggle for the crown between William Rufus and Robert of Normandy, Bamburgh was besieged by William, who, finding the defence too strong, erected and garrisoned a new castle before Bamburgh called "Malveisin" or "Evil neighbour." Earl Robert of Northumberland, who was in command of Bamburgh, having been defeated in a sally, the castle surrendered to William in November 1095. The first mention of Bamburgh as a borough does not occur until 1169, when the men paid 2½ marks to an aid. Henry III. by charter of 1254-1255 granted the burgesses their town at an annual fee farm rent of 26 marks, of which they were acquitted in 1318 and 1327 "on account of the robberies and fires inflicted on them by the Scots." Edward III. in 1332 confirmed the charter of Henry III., and granted further that the town should be a free borough governed by four bailiffs, that it should be enclosed by a wall and that the burgesses should have a gild merchant. He also altered the market-day from Sunday to Wednesday, and gave licence for the fairs, which had been held "from time immemorial" on the feasts of SS. Oswald and Aidan, to continue for three extra days. During the Scottish wars of the reign of Henry V., Bamburgh again suffered severely, so much so that in 1439 the burgesses had decreased in number from 120 to 13. These again petitioned for a remission of their farm, which in 1446 was reduced to £10 yearly. Bamburgh was twice taken by the Yorkists in the Wars of the Roses and twice recovered by Queen Margaret. In 1463, after it had been recovered a second time by the queen, Henry VI. stayed there for a year, but after the battle of Hexham it was again taken by the Yorkists, and the castle and town were then so much injured that from that time there is no mention of the burgesses or their privileges. Bamburgh returned two members to parliament in 1295 and again in Edward III.'s reign, but since then has never been represented. In 1384 Lord Neville received licence to dig for sea-coal in Bamburgh, and mines of coal and lead existed there as late as 1681.