Barnard Castle Life - picture of the castle taken from the path around the castle

On the left, in a caw byre, is a pillar, all that remains of the once " faire chapelle." On the right is a high wall built on top of the up-cast from the deep ditch in front, now a garden, and behind this wall is the outer bailey now called the Town Ward (flash map)

and used as gardens. At the farther end of the track is a gate beside a cottage which has been added to the remains of a strong tower of later date than the curtain wall. From the gate the path crosses the end of the deep inner ditch of the original fortification which can be seen on the right.

Through another gate, which seems to be on the site of an ancient drawbridge and gate tower, we enter the inner bailey, the main part of the castle. (Castle Google Map) Across the grass grown area is the great round tower, a fine example of ashlar work in stone from Cat Castle in Deepdale, built about a.d 1300. It is wrongly called Baliol's Tower as it was built after the confiscation of John Baliol's estates on his abdication as King of Scotland. Round towers were not introduced until late in the reign of Edward I. The base of the tower, on the bailey side, is square and seems to be part of the original stone keep built by Bernard Baliol It is now entered by a doorway on the ground level where a passage leads to a garde-robe or toilet.

The walls are 10 feet in thickness and the ground floor is 20 feet in diameter. This has a curious domed roof with the stones laid spirally and an increase in height of only 18 inches above the springing from the main wall. The room is lighted by splayed openings with tall narrow slits. On the right, a few steps lead to a vaulted chamber in the thickness of the wall which appears to be Norman work.

From this a flight of stairs leads to the first floor and what was originally the entrance, and opposite the stair-head is another garde-robe passage. The room on this floor is spacious and well lighted, though some of the windows have been altered and mutilated. From this room a flight of stairs curves round in the thickness of the wall to the upper storeys of which there were two. The roof was covered with lead but this, and the lead from the other buildings, was removed in the 17th century. In consequence, the wood supports decayed and collapsed and exposed the interior to the sky. The more venturesome visitor can get a wonderful view from the top. Midway up the stairs is the door which led to the battlements above the great chamber.

Near the round tower, on the south and approached by modern steps, is an oriel window with Tudor mullions and supported outside on corbels. This formed part of the Great Chamber and appears to have been inserted in the 15th and altered in the 16th century so that no Gothic tracery remains. A slab, forming the soffit or cover over the window, is carved with a boar, the badge of Richard III. The boar is enclosed within an interlacing ornament which is now incomplete and the stone appears to have been brought from some other part of the castle. The view from the window is magnificent.

Adjoining the Great Chamber was the Great Hall where the occupants of the castle dined and the affairs of the barony were administered. It was rebuilt in the 14th century and has two window openings with tracery of that period. At the southern end is Mortham's Tower, much of which collapsed early last century. The lower part is of the 13th century and it was heightened to five storeys at a later date. The rooms on the upper floors were approached by a newel or spiral stair.

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