It was held by the De Vesci family (now spelt "Vasey" – a name found all over south-east Northumberland) for over 200 years, and then passed into the hands of the house of Percy in 1309.
At various points in the town are memorials of the constant wars between Percys and Scots, in which so many Percys spent the greater part of their lives.
Pottergate Tower, at the other side of the town, also stands on the site of an ancient gate, but the tower itself was rebuilt in the 18th century. Outside the line of the walls, the old railway station building is relatively ostentatious for such a small town, due to its frequent use by royal travellers visiting Alnwick Castle. The town has a thriving playhouse, a multi-purpose arts centre, which stages theatre, dance, music, cinema, and visual arts productions.
The town is an 'A1 Town', there are several such similar towns in the North of England such as (North to South), Berwick Upon Tweed (28.1 miles North), Morpeth (28.3 miles South), Newton Aycliffe (65.1 miles South) and Wetherby (116 miles South).Being such a stopping point on the A1 (particularly in such a rural area) provides Alnwick with a lot of passing trade and tourism.Hulne Priory, outside the town walls in Hulne Park, the Duke of Northumberland's walled estate, was a monastery founded in the 13th century by the Carmelites; it is said that the site was chosen for some slight resemblance to Mount Carmel where the order originated. Again in 1448 the town was burnt by a Scottish army led by William Douglas, 8th Earl of Douglas and George Douglas, 4th Earl of Angus.Thomas Malory mentions Alnwick as a possible location for Lancelot's castle Joyous Garde.The castle is open to tourists from April to September, and the Gardens all year around.
It is the second largest inhabited castle in England, after Windsor Castle.
In medieval times, Alnwick was a walled town, although due to fluctuating economic conditions during the Middle Ages, the walls were never completed.
Hotspur Tower, a medieval gate, is extant, dividing Bondgate Within from Bondgate Without, and restricting vehicles to a single lane used alternately in each direction.
Alnwick Castle was the home of the most powerful medieval northern baronial family, the Earls of Northumberland.
It was a staging post on the Great North Road between Edinburgh and London, and latterly has become a dormitory town for nearby Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
The town's greatest building by far is Alnwick Castle, one of the homes of the Duke of Northumberland, and site of The Alnwick Garden; it dominates the west of the town, above the River Aln.