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Dunstanburgh. Back ground to the building of the castle

The Symbol of an Earl's ambition

Dunstanburgh Castle was first built in 1313 by Thomas, Earl of Lancaster ( 1278 - 1322), cousin to King Edward II and one of his most powerful opponents. The new castle was specially designed to impress visitors with Earl Thomas's power and authority as the leading English Baron in the North.

Earl Thomas, arrogant and unpopular, was the leader of the political opposition to Edward II and his favourite, Piers Gaveston, Earl of Cornwall.

In June 1312, Earl Thomas's supporters arrested and executed Gaveston, an act never forgiven by Edward II. Work on building this castle began immediately on land which which Thomas had inherited from his father.

The Castle's builders exploited the natural setting to create imposing views. From the direction of Embleton , the walls and towers were reflected in the sea and the "meres" or artificial lakes below the walls.

From the coast to the north the castle was crowned by the Lilburn tower, built on the highest point.

However the most striking part of the castle was the huge gatehouse.