Egremont Castle

(See also Egremont , Gurning)

Egremont Castle entrance by Graeme DougalOn a mound above Egremont's main road sit the pinky-red sandstone ruins of a castle built c1120 by William de Meschines and once the seat of the barony of Copeland (Egremont).

Sited near the Scottish border, it was the target of raids in 1138 and the early 1300's. From the 1100's through the ensuing centuries the castle passed through numerous hands including a nephew of David I of Scotland, the Earl of Sussex, the 15th Earl of Northumberland, and the Crown.

Egremont Castle by Graeme DougalDecayed by the late 16th century, only the gatehouse, front of the great hall, and curtain wall survive. An interesting herringbone pattern of stonework is visible. A southeast corner fireplace still exists. When first built, a drawbridge and moat guarded the south entrance along with the square tower.

The castle is the subject of a local legend, one immortalized by Wordsworth in The Horn of Egremont.

". . .To the Horn Sir Eustace pointed
Which for ages there had hung.
Horn it was which none could sound,
No one upon living ground,
Save He who came as rightful Heir
To Egremont's Domains and Castle fair."

Egremont Castle view by Graeme DougalThe tale of the local Lord of Egremont has a number of versions. One version says he was captured in the Crusades, and his younger brother took advantage of the fact to secure the Lordship for himself. The first Lord was released and, upon returning home, sounded his horn (which could only be blown by the true Lord) outside the castle gate alerting his disloyal brother to the fact he had returned home to reclaim the Lordship. The brothers were eventually reconciled.

Egremont Castle wide view by Graeme DougalEgremont Castle
Egremont is 6 miles (10 km) southeast of Whitehaven and lies about equal distance between Carlisle, Penrith, and Barrow.

Photos courtesy of Graeme Dougal

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