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A Viking roar as Bamburgh Castle grounds reopen

Bamburgh Castle grounds reopened to visitors today for the first time in almost 150 days, in line with new lockdown rules.

Visitors entered the 1400-year-old Northumberland castle gates as Viking re-enactor, award-winning tour guide Robert Jones of Lundgren Tours gave a victory cry atop England’s finest castle’s medieval gatehouse.

Four-legged favourite Marley the miniature pony was there to welcome people, complete with a special Viking chariot, while castle staff were on hand to bring Bamburgh’s incredible past to life for visitors.

Bamburgh Castle grounds reopening marked the day lockdown restrictions were eased, allowing heritage sites to reopen their grounds for recreational purposes.

Bamburgh Castle owner Francis Watson-Armstrong, along with three generations of the Watson-Armstrong family, was there to greet visitors. He said: “Today has been another extraordinary milestone in Bamburgh Castle’s history. It has been incredibly moving seeing the castle return to life once again, with people laughing, smiling and enjoying a taste of the freedom we have all been craving for so long.

“It is a real honour that people have chosen to visit Bamburgh Castle on the very first day that they have been given freedom to do so. We’ve had such heart-warming feedback from people who have come to visit, including local residents living nearby who are so familiar with the castle as a landmark, but who’ve never stepped inside its grounds before and hearing how much this has meant to them.”

He added: “The safety and wellbeing of our visitors and team is always our highest priority and we have opened as a Covid-secure VisitEngland ‘We’re Good to Go’ quality assured attraction, with social distancing measures in place to allow people to enjoy our grounds securely.

“We will continue to monitor Government regulations closely and hope to be able to reopen our staterooms on May 17th. In the meantime, visitors can enjoy what really is one of the most magnificent open-air sites on the UK coastline and see Northumberland from a very different level.

“We would like to thank everyone for visiting us and for the many messages of support our team has received from around the world while the castle has been closed. We look forward to welcoming people back over Easter and beyond as restrictions continue to ease.”

One of the first visitors to enter the castle gates was 63-year-old Richard Hunter from Bamburgh.

He said: “It’s been quite emotional, really. It’s the first time I’ve gone out to go somewhere other than the shops. Although I’m from the North East I’ve never been inside Bamburgh Castle before and thought I’d use this opportunity as a chance to visit. It’s just fabulous, I think it brought the kid in me back. You can get the feel of what it was like throughout history. It just hits you how wonderful it is, when you stand here looking around. I’m looking forward to coming back and looking around the inside of the castle when that reopens, too.”

Once the Anglo-Saxon capital of Northumberland, Bamburgh Castle is famed for being the real Last Kingdom of Bebbanburg in Bernard Cornwell’s epic television series and historical novel set. Visitors exploring the castle’s grounds can discover why England’s finest coastal fortress has been the ultimate defensive stronghold for thousands of years with guides and outdoor re-enactors narrating its past.

Bamburgh Castle was one of the first attractions in the country to be awarded the industry standard ‘We’re Good To Go’ in recognition of its rigorous Covid-secure measures, which includes a preferred one-way route for social distancing, hand sanitising stations, enhanced cleaning regimes and additional WC facilities.

Due to current Government restrictions, the castle’s staterooms and Armstrong & Aviation Museum will remain closed until May 17 at the earliest.

A takeaway food and drink outlet is temporarily replacing the castle’s indoor Clock Tower Tearooms with homemade hot and cold refreshments.

As visitor numbers are restricted to allow social distancing on site, visitors are advised to pre-booked advance ground tickets which include fast track entry.

Bamburgh Castle is a dog friendly visitor attraction in Northumberland. Dogs are allowed into the castle grounds free of charge.

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