Newcastle castle – a first class fortification!
Of course Newcastle has a castle! The fortification which gives the city its name is a family friendly historic attraction. A visit to Newcastle castle reveals the story of how Newcastle began, the reason the city got its name and to follow in the footsteps of the people who lived and died here in the shadow of the castle.
Steeped in history this imposing Norman fortress is in the centre of the city right next to the railway line and the High Level Bridge. A trip to Newcastle Castle tells the story of Northern England’s exciting and turbulent history.
Newcastle Castle – steeped in history
Steeped in history this imposing Norman fortress, in the center of Newcastle Upon Tyne, is a rugged reminder of northern England’s turbulent history. This was no baron’s stately home. Newcastle Castle is a grim reminder of royal authority where armies gathered, and criminals were imprisoned and executed. It is where the story of Newcastle began, the reason the city got its name and has the most commanding views over the city and the River Tyne.
Newcastle castle was a royal residence and served as a base for the Sheriff of Northumberland, the King’s representative in the area. In 1154 Henry II became King of England, and set about taking control of the country after a period of civil war. A lot of Northern England had been taken over by Scotland and in 1168, he had the timber castle on the Tyne rebuilt in stone.
Newcastle castle – defence against the Scots
In 1216, King John gave Newcastle its first royal charter. This allowed the merchants to elect their own mayor and to control trade on the River Tyne. The Keep (or Great Tower) was the principal strong point of the Castle. Building work was interrupted first in 1173, and again in 1174, when the Castle was besieged by the Scots, and the fortress proved its worth.
The castle was added to up until 1250, when the building of the ‘barbican’ or gatehouse was finished. Today this is the building known as the Black Gate. At the end of the 1200s, a long series of wars between England and Scotland began. Newcastle became a border fortress and a place where the King of England would gather his armies before going out to fight.
The town was also growing – by the 1300s Newcastle was the fourth richest town in England, behind London, Bristol and York. Its main exports were wool and leather, but the coal trade was also starting to become important.
Next to the castle keep is the original entrance to the city – the Black Gate.
Newcastle Castle – the Black Gate
The Black Gate was built between 1247 and 1250 during the reign of King Henry III. This entrance was the last addition to the medieval Castle defences. Today this is where visitors are welcomed in.
The gatehouse, is an arched passage which provided a walled, defensive entrance for the Castle’s North Gate. The portcullis could be raised or lowered quickly by means of chains or ropes. At the front of the gatehouse, easily defended by overlooking soldiers, was a drawbridge. This could be closed quickly if needed.
The By the early 19th century, the building was a rabbit warren of slum dwellings. In 1856 there was a proposal to demolish it on the grounds that it was considered ‘a great nuisance!’
Newcastle castle – come and visit us!
The castle hosts all kinds of events and we attended a showing of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner in the great hall! Bladerunner is one of my favourite films as I am a big Sci Fi fan. The great hall was certainly a change of venue from the usual multiplex!
Other events I quite fancy are the Jack the Ripper night and the Paranormal Halloween night. Both of these suit this venue perfectly!
There are no toilets in the castle because it is a listed building. You have to pop across to the Bridge Hotel opposite. This is a beautiful old hotel situated right under the eaves of the High Level Bridge. The Bridge Hotel also has a charming terrace with a stunning view of the river Tyne. Apparently the foundations of the hotel are built on a giant pile of the waste that was thrown out of the castle windows!
Newcastle castle is in the part of the city that is now being called the Merchant quarter. This part of the ‘Toon’ is being revived to attract more visitors to this amazing historic city. If you are coming to the North East this historic venue makes for a great visit!