Seven apotropaic figures, some with histrionic combative poses. They stand at various points on the merlons of the battlements of the barbican and gatehouse (c.1310-20): on the south west projecting tower of the barbican; above the portal of the barbican; on the north west projecting tower of the barbican; on the south west gatehouse; and on the north west gatehouse. All wear fanciful, eighteenth-century versions of medieval armour or classical attire. There are similar figures on the battlements elsewhere but they are less easy to see from outside the Castle.
The figures were installed by the first duke of Northumberland as part of his wholesale refurbishment of the Castle (1750-86) in the Gothic style under the direction of James Paine and Robert Adam. The work of James Johnson, they reportedly took him 'upwards of twenty years' to complete. (1) They replace earlier figures which had become decayed.(2) Nineteenth-century engravings and written descriptions suggest the Alnwick figures have long been a key element of the tourist image of the town.(3)
There are similar apotropaic figures in the region, on the battlements of Bothal, Raby, Hylton and Bambrugh.(4)
PMSA recording information