Malory named the possibility that Bamburgh Castle is Joyous Gard, the castle of Sir Lancelot that was originally known as Dolorous Gard (Doloreuse Chartre), and later reverted back to its former name. If Bamburgh Castle is Joyous Gard, then it was to this imposing structure that Lancelot brought Guenevere after he had rescued her from being burnt for adultery.
Though occupied by the Angles, Bamburgh also shows ruins of an earlier British castle called Din Guayrdi, which later were renamed Bebbanburgh by the Angles. The castle appears in Girart d’Amien’s Escanor as Banborc.
Bamburgh | 0 to the 9th century AD
Pre-Roman and Roman Periods
The site of Bamburgh has evidence of prehistoric and Roman-era occupation, including artifacts and structures. During the Roman period, the region was likely part of the broader network of Roman influence in Britain.
Early Anglo-Saxon Period
The establishment of Bamburgh as a significant settlement dates back to the early Anglo-Saxon period. The Anglo-Saxon name for Bamburgh is believed to have been Din Guayrdi, but the specific historical details are not well-documented.
According to later historical sources, including Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum (Ecclesiastical History of the English People), Bamburgh was associated with the Anglo-Saxon kings of Bernicia. Bede does not specifically mention the name Din Guayrdi, but he records the place as Bebbanburgh. The name “Bebbanburgh” is often associated with Queen Bebba, who is mentioned in later traditions.
Bernicia and Northumbria
Bamburgh was a key center in the kingdom of Bernicia, one of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms that later formed the kingdom of Northumbria. The castle at Bamburgh was likely a royal residence and a strategic stronghold, serving as the capital of the kingdom at times.
Like many coastal areas in England, Bamburgh experienced Viking invasions during the ninth century. The Vikings, particularly the Norse, attacked Bamburgh and occupied the region during this period.
The Norman Conquest of England in the late eleventh century saw the capture of Bamburgh Castle by the Normans. The castle underwent further development under Norman rule.
Le Morte Darthur | Sir Thomas Malory, 1469-1470
Physical topography in Britain and elsewhere.