Dunstanburgh Castle

Dunstanburgh Castle and Greymare rocks, Northumberland

I’m often asked where my favourite place to photograph is. That’s a tricky one to answer. Generally I wriggle my way out by saying that it’s wherever I happen to be at the time. However, I do have one subject that I’m not sure I could ever tire of: Dunstanburgh Castle.

The castle is on the Northumberland coast, a mile from the village of Craster to the south. The castle stands on a spur of land that juts out into the North Sea and was originally built in response to a military threat from Scotland during the Medieval period. Even before Edward II lost power over Scotland in a fierce battle near Bannockburn in 1314, fear of a counter-invasion had rippled through Northumberland. In response to this threat, Earl Thomas of Lancaster began construction of Dunstanburgh Castle to defend his northern territory.

During the Wars of the Roses, heavy damage was done to Dunstanburgh Castle, and this damage was never repaired. By 1538 a report noted that Dunstanburgh was a ‘very reuynus howsse and of smalle strength’. Ruined it may be, but Dunstanburgh Castle is still an imposing site, particularly when seen from the gentle curve of Embleton Bay to the north. Photographically, this is a view that I prefer early on a summer’s morning. In winter the sun from this position rises behind the castle, creating problems of contrast (though shooting the castle as a silhouette is always an option). Of course being at Dunstanburgh for sunrise in summer means being there very, very early. Still, it’s generally no hardship just once or twice a year. Who knows, I may even see you there this summer.