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The magnificent cross-shaped keep of Warkworth, crowning a hilltop rising steeply above the River Coquet, dominates one of the largest, strongest and most impressive fortresses in northern England. The castle's most famous owners were the Percy family, whose lion badge can be seen carved on many parts of their stronghold. Wielding almost kingly power in the north, their influence reached its apogee under the first Earl of Northumberland and his son Henry 'Harry Hotspur' Percy, hero of many Border ballads as the bane of Scots raiders and a dominant character in Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part I. Having helped to depose Richard II, these turbulent 'kingmakers' both fell victim to Henry IV: the next three Percy Earls likewise died violent deaths.

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