Durham Castle was built in 1072 by the order of William the Conqueror, who intended it as a statement of power over the local Saxons as well as a bulwark against Scotland to the north. Like Windsor Castle, it is an outstanding example of the “motte-and-bailey” style of fortress, whereby an imposing, almost circular stone structure sits on raised earth surrounded by fortifications.
Since the Norman era, the castle has been expanded and remodeled and now includes a soaring Great Hall, the Gothic Revival Bishop’s Rooms and the impressive Black Staircase, added during the 17th century Restoration.
Today Durham Castle remains a residence, though not for lords and knights, but rather for students of the city's university which owns the site.
Durham makes an easy side trip from nearby Newcastle. The castle can only be accessed with a guided tour, and you should also allow time to visit the nearby Durham Cathedral, the finest example of Norman ecclesiastical architecture in Britain.