Alnwick, Northumberland NE66 1NQ, United Kingdom
Alnwick Castle is a castle and stately home in the town of the same name in the English county of Northumberland. It is the seat of the Duke of Northumberland, built following the Norman conquest, and renovated and remodeled a number of times. It is a Grade I listed building and receives over 800,000 visitors per year.
Alnwick Castle guards a road crossing the River Aln. Yves de Vescy, Baron of Alnwick, erected the first parts of the castle in about 1096. The castle was first mentioned in 1136 when it was captured by King David I of Scotland. At this point it was described as “very strong”. It was besieged in 1172 and again in 1174 by William the Lion, King of Scotland and William was captured outside the walls during the Battle of Alnwick. Eustace de Vesci, lord of Alnwick, was accused of plotting with Robert Fitzwalter against King John in 1212. In response, John ordered the demolition of Alnwick Castle and Baynard’s Castle (the latter was Fitzwalter’s stronghold), however his instructions were not carried out at Alnwick.
The current duke and his family live in the castle, but only occupy a part of it. The castle is open to the public throughout the summer. After Windsor Castle, it is the second largest inhabited castle in England. Alnwick was the tenth most visited stately home in England according to the Historic Houses Association, with 195,504 visitors in 2006.
The castle is used as a stand in for the exterior and interior of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films, which has led to an increase in public interest with Alnwick. Its appearance in the films has helped shape the public imagination regarding what castles should look like. Its condition contrasts with the vast majority of castles in the country which are ruinous and unfit for habitation. The wide angle images are computer generated. It has previously been a location used in Becket, the Black Adder, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and many others.
The castle grounds are also regularly in use as a cross country running venue as past of the North East Harrier League.