"Entering from any direction but the west the visitor sees no sign of any castle but only an agreeable market town full of unpretentious eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century housing - at its hub the fine octagonal Town Hall or market cross of 1747"
The Companion Guide To Northumbria. Edward Grierson. 1976
Barnard Castle is a historic town and a Norman castle was built at this strategic point in 1112 by Bernard Baliol. The castle stands high above the river and the bridge apparently built or rebuilt in 1569, though a stone on the parapet says 1596. It is likely that other bridges existed here before the 16th century and that the last of these was the existing bridge, rebuilt in the 16th century, though much altered since. The stone bridge, Grade 1 listed, has two arches and although it survived the November 1771 flood it did require substantial repairs with new parapets provided. Traffic has weakened the bridge and there is a weight restriction of 7.5 tonnes with traffic now controlled by lights. The bridge carries the A67 road from east to west. A new bridge and bypass has been suggested.
Barney, as the town is known locally, has seen troubled times. The castle was beseiged during the Rising of the North in 1569 in the reign of Elizabeth 1, and Oliver Cromwell passed through in 1648. Sir Walter Scott, J M W Turner and Charles Dickens all visited Barnard Castle at one time or another. Scott wrote about the castle in his poem Rokeby, and Turner painted the castle and bridge, while Dickens stayed at the King's Head while researching Nicholas Nickleby. Just out of town is the famous Bowes Museum. Built for John Bowes, work commenced in 1869 but was not completed until 1892 after his death. In the style of a French Chateau or Town Hall it houses many art treasures and other collections acquired by John Bowes and his French wife, Josephine. The town's main street descends a steep hill and there are many interesting buildings and an octagonal market cross. It is possible to do a circular walk around the lower part of the town using this bridge and the Startforth footbridge.