Harbottle is a village and civil parish in Northumberland, England about 10 miles (16 km) southeast of the Scottish border, nestled among the Cheviot Hills and inside Northumberland National Park. The village is the site of Harbottle Castle built by order of Henry II. Now in ruins, the castle was constructed by the Umfraville family to protect against invaders from Scotland.
Harbottle had a population of 256 in the 2011 UK census.
The National Gazetteer (1868) comments as follows:
Harbottle was a township in the ancient parish of Holystone and became a separate civil parish in 1866. From 1894 it was part of Rothbury Rural District. In 1883 its area was expanded by absorbing parts of a number of surrounding parishes (see A Vision of Britain through Time]. In 1955 it was enlarged again when the parishes of Holystone, Peels and Sharperton were abolished. Harbottle remains as a civil parish. In 1974 rural districts were abolished and Harbottle became part of the Alnwick District until 2009 when Northumberland became a unitary authority.
It is thought that the mound on which the keep stands was a site used by the ancient Britons and that in Saxon times there was a stronghold on the site held by Mildred, son of Ackman. The present castle was built about 1160 by the Umfraville family at the request of King Henry II on land awarded to them following the Norman Conquest, presumably as a defence against the Scots. Not long after its erection, in 1174, it was taken by the Scots and was then rebuilt more strongly. In 1296 it was besieged by Robert de Ros and some 40,000 men, but the siege was withheld. In the 1310s Robert the Bruce captured the castle. It was restored in 1336, but in ruins again by 1351. It was repaired at the end of the 14th century and in about 1436 the castle passed into the hands of the Tailleboys following the death of Robert de Umfraville, the last of his line. It was for a long time the residence of the Warden of the Middle Marches and used as a prison.
In 1515 Margaret Tudor, the widowed queen of James IV of Scotland and sister of Henry VIII, having been banished by the regent, the Duke of Albany, came to the castle with her second husband, Archibald Douglas, the Earl of Angus. While there, a daughter was born, who was also called Margaret. Margaret was to become the mother of Lord Darnley, the second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, and grandmother of James VI of Scotland and James I of England.
Further building work took place on the castle between 1541 and 1551 and more repairs were made in 1563. In 1605 James I granted the castle and manor to George Home, 1st Earl of Dunbar, Lord Treasurer of Scotland, but thereafter the castle fell into decay and much of its masonry was used in other buildings. A survey of 1715 reported the castle to be ruinous once more. Today only earthworks and some standing masonry remains.
Following the abandonment of the castle as a residence the name was reused: Harbottle Castle is a 19th-century mansion house situated at the east end of the village. Stone from the derelict mediaeval castle was used in the building of a 17th-century manor house. The manor was acquired by Percival Clennell in 1796 and in 1829 the house was replaced on the site with a two storied five bayed mansion designed by architect John Dobson. The house is protected with Grade II listed building status.