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Overlooking the medieval city of Durham and the winding River Wear, you will find Durham Castle proudly perched atop a hill. It has guarded over Durham from as far back as the 11th century. Indeed, it was once England’s cornerstone of defence against Northern forces and was the main seat of power for the fearsome Prince-Bishops.

What is Durham Castle like?

The city of Durham has an extensive and turbulent history, which Durham Castle has not been exempted from. From Norman invaders, religious reformers and civil wars, this 13th century castle has been an epicentre for scandals and intrigue for centuries! You can explore this fascinating history by joining a guided tour and see for yourself surviving artefacts of Durham Castles story.

Wander through the wonderful gatehouse to be delighted with the sight of the castle courtyard and striking keep, which now houses university students. From here you can explore the Tudor gallery, which serves as a museum and houses Tunstall Chapel.

Interestingly, Durham Castle actually has two chapels, the first of which is the Norman Chapel. It dates back to the 11th century and is actually the oldest structure still standing in Durham! Here you will find an array of ornate and peculiar stone carvings, including one of a mermaid!

Be sure to snap some pics when visiting the 14th century Great Hall. This magnificent building served as inspiration for the dining room in the Harry Potter films. Indeed, filming was supposed to take place here but alas, it was never to be. However, when visiting you might be able to spot gowned students eating here! Look out for the muskets lined along the walls. They are reportedly still loaded in preparation for a Scottish invasion – though we wouldn’t like to be there to find out!

On your tour, you can also peek into the Norman Undercroft, with its vaulted ceilings, and stop by the Black Stairs. These stairs are fragile and quite crooked but are allegedly a favourite haunt of the ghost of the Grey Lady. There are carved pineapples adorning the staircase but note that they appear quite peculiar compared to the real things!

Accessibility

Durham Castle is one of the seventeen working colleges at Durham University. Therefore, you can only see it when on a guided tour. See the FAQ below to learn how to pre-book a ticket.

As the castle is thousands of years old, it is not wholly accessible. Wheelchair and pushchair access is very limited as you must navigate numerous stairways to follow the tour. These areas are unavoidable and quite awkward, with steep, sometimes worn and uneven, steps. Some stairways are very narrow, though all have some form of handrail for you to use. Those with limited mobility may struggle to explore the castle. Although the grand Great Hall can be accessed via one small set of stairs. Furthermore, you can still see the level courtyard without needing to climb any steps.

Unfortunately you can not drive to nor park here, though please see our FAQ below for further detail on this matter. Additionally, Durham can be quite difficult to navigate, with cobbled streets and numerous hills. To reach the castle, we therefore recommend that you jump aboard the wheelchair and pushchair accessible Durham Cathedral BusThis bus comes regularly and stops at Palace Green, a very short distance from Durham Castle.

Further points of interest

Want to see all that Durham has to offer? Follow a 2 minute walk across Palace Green to Durham Cathedral, one of the grandest examples of Romanesque architecture in the whole world. If you fancy a bite to eat, a browse through the historic Durham Market Place, a 5 minute walk away, would not go amiss!

Q Is Durham Castle dog friendly? Are assistance dogs permitted?

Only assistance dogs are permitted inside the Castle. However, dogs are welcome inside the walled garden.

Q How much does the guided tour cost?

Tickets costs £4.50 for adults and children aged 12 and over. Children aged 11 or younger can join the guided tours for free.

Q Where can I buy tickets for the guided tour?

You must buy your tickets in advance. You can do this via the online form found here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/durham-castle-self-guided-day-tickets-162399341803

Q How long do the guided tours last for?

Most guided tours last for 45 minutes.

Q Are there toilets at Durham Castle? Are there disabled access toilets?

There are toilets inside Durham Castle. These are located beside the Undercroft Bar and are clearly signposted. There is one toilet that is appropriate for disabled use. Although, this toilet can be accessed via 6 small steps.

Other public toilet facilities are also available along Palace Green, next to Durham Castle. These can be found beside the red post box.

Q Is there parking available at Durham Castle? Is there disabled access parking? How much does parking cost?

Unfortunately you cannot drive up to nor park at Durham Castle. However, disabled visitors and individuals with limited mobility may be able to park along Palace Green, right next to the castle. To find out more, you should contact the Palace Green security office at +44 (0)191 334 2222. Though this parking was not specifically designed for disabled access.

The nearest public car park is the Prince Bishops Shopping Centre car park (DH1 3UJ). This car park has disabled spaces. From here you can follow a short walk to the castle up cobbled paths and a small hill or hop on the Durham Cathedral bus to be delivered right next to the castle.

The Prince Bishops car park costs are as follows:
- 0-2 hours = £2.10
- 2-4 hours = £3.30
- 4-6 hours = £6.20
- 6 hours or more = £11.50

Q How can I get to Durham Castle?

There are a variety of methods as to how to you can get here. Luckily the Durham Castle team have created a handy source of travel information which you can find here https://www.dur.ac.uk/durham.castle/visit/location/. This provides detailed information regarding travel routes and public transport.

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