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 continued under construction until 1250, when the building of the 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 during the reign of King Henry III, between 1247 and 1250. This entrance was the last addition to the medieval Castle defences and is now the main access for visitors.
The gatehouse, is an arched passage which provided a walled, defensive entrance for the Castle’s North Gate. Chains or ropes raised or lowered the portcullis. The drawbridge at the front could be quickly closed if needed.
Newcastle castle – come and visit us!
The castle hosts all kinds of events. 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. Situated right under the eaves of the High Level Bridge, the Bridge Hotel has a quirky terrace with a stunning view of the river Tyne. The hotel foundations were built on a giant pile of the waste that was thrown out of the castle windows over the years.
Newcastle castle is in the part of the city that is now being called the Merchant quarter. This historic city is now reviving this part of the ‘Toon’ to attract more visitors. If you are coming to the North East this historic venue makes for a great visit!