The Ravens Warband

Siege of Bamburgh, AD651

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle entry for the year 547 states:

Her Ida feng to rice, þonon Norþanhymbra cynecyn onwoc 7 rixode twelf gear. 7 he timbrode Bebbanburh. seo wæs ærost mid hegge betyned. 7 þaræfter mid wealle.

This year Ida came to rule, the Northumbrian royal line came from him and he ruled for twelve years. And he built Bamburgh, which was at first surrounded with a hedge and later with a wall.

Bamburgh Castle

Bede records how the city was besieged in c.AD651:

..., Penda and his enemy army of Mercians spread ruin far and wide throughout the lands of the Northumbrians and reached the very gates of the royal city which takes its name from Bebba the former queen. Unable to enter it either by force or after a siege. Penda attempted to set it on fire. Pulling down all the neighboring villages, he carried to Bamburgh a vast quantity of beams, rafters, wattled walls and thatched roofs, piling it high around the city wall on the landward side. Directly the wind became favorable he set fire to the mass, intending to destroy the city.

Bishop Aidan, who lived on the nearby Farne Islands, then said a prayer.

No sooner had he spoken than the wind shifted away from the city and drove back the flames on to those who kindled them, so injuring some and unnerving all that they abandoned the assault ...

Directions to the Battlefield


Bamburgh is situated on the North Sea coast, 10 miles south of Berwick-on-Tweed. The 'modern' castle is open to visitors. Link.

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