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Barnard Castle f. 22

Overlooking the crossing of the River Tees on its southern border, Barnard is Durham’s greatest ruined castle. It was long in the hands of the Balliol family, one of the most influential in the nation’s history. The Balliols came to England with William the Conqueror and even provided one ill-starred King of Scotland between 1292 and 1294 in the person of John Balliol, a puppet of the English court.

There was no love lost between the Balliol family and the prince bishops. Following the war with Scotland, John Balliol’s estates in England were forfeited to the Crown, then promptly claimed by Bishop Antony Bek, one of the great ‘building bishops’. Barnard Castle was retrieved by the Crown a few years later, but wrangling over competing royal and episcopal claims continued for most of the medieval period.

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