Harbottle : The Park
Another essential element of this baronial landscape was the park, which provided the lord with an enclosed hunting reserve immediately adjacent to his castle. The park was clearly in existence by 1296 when Edward I ordered his bailiff in Tynedale to transfer 20 live bucks and 80 live does be transferred from John Comyn's woods and parks (in the manor of Tarset in North Tynedale) to stock Gilbert de Umfraville's park at Harbottle. In the Inquisition Post Mortem for Gilbert II in 1308 the park was described as follows:
a certain park containing in circuit about one league, in which are wild animals; the sale of underwood of which yields nothing, but the agistment (rental from grazing rights) of it is worth 6s 8d.
The outline of the park is apparent on the earliest detailed maps such as the 1806 estate map, despite the interior having been parcelled up, and is evinced by field names ('Park' and 'Park Head' - 1806) and later houses ('Park House' on the 2nd edition Ordnance Survey). Indeed it can still traced in the present-day field layout.
The bulk of the park enclosure lay on the north side of the Coquet, opposite the castle, but a narrow strip ran along the south side incorporating the later fields labelled Ram's Haugh, Castle Haugh, Castle Garth and Castle Hill on the 1806 map, with the result that the castle itself fell within the boundary of the enclosure. This pattern of fencing both sides of a river is commonly replicated in other medieval parks, e.g. Warkworth, and was presumably intended to provide the wildlife with access to the river for drinking whilst maintaining a secure enclosure. In the 1331 inquest post mortem of Robertde Umfraville, however, 'land called Ramshalgh' (i.e. Ramshaugh) is listed separately along with the castle and the borough, but was clearly still part of the seigneurial demesne.
There is no indication that the park was still in existence on Armstrong's map (1769), where parks are often depicted as palisaded enclosures. It had evidently been parcelled up into fields after the castle had fallen out of use at the end of the 16th century. When the present Harbottle Castle was built at the east end of the village, by the Widdringtons in the 17th century, the old park was effectively redundant. Subsequently a new park was established south of the 17th Century mansion to provide the requisite pastoral landscape visible from the house itself. This figures on maps from the 1st edition Ordnance Survey onwards (on the 1806 map it is labelled 'lawn').
Picture : Harbottle Park