In around 1255 John Balliol, the father of the future king of Scotland and the then owner of the castle became involved in a dispute with the Bishop of Durham, Walter de Kirkham. The dispute over a manor escallated when hostages were taken and the Bishop excommunicated some of the baron's men. In the end the king had to intervene. In 1263 John Balliol founded Balliol College, Oxford, possibly to atone for his earlier dealings with the bishop.
John's son, also called John Balliol was chosen by Edward I to become the King of Scotland in 1292. His position only lasted for four years when a disagreement with the English king led to hostilities. Balliol lost control of Barnard Castle and it was claimed by Antony Bek, the Bishop of Durham, a supporter of the English king.
King Richard III took possession of the castle when he married Cecily Neville.Mainained by English Heritage.