The Castle is an archaelogical site in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, that gives the City of Newcastle its name. The most visible evidence of the site now comprises two buildings, the Castle Keep and the The Black Gate, which are the remains of the Castle's square fortified stone tower (keep), and a fortified gatehouse (barbican).
Use of the site for defence dates from Roman times, when the site was known as a fort and settlement called Pons Aelius, guarding a bridge over the River Tyne. In 1080, a wooden motte and bailey style castle was built on the site of the Roman fort, which is the 'New Castle upon Tyne'. It was built by Robert Curthose, eldest son of William I (William the Conqueror), having returned south from a campaign against Malcolm III of Scotland. The stone Castle Keep was built between 1172 and 1177 by Henry II on the site of Curthose's castle. The Blackgate was added between 1247 and 1250 by Henry III.
The site is in the centre of Newcastle, and lies to the east of Newcastle Central Station. The 75 foot gap between the Keep and the Gatehouse is almost entirely filled by a railway viaduct, carrying the East Coast Main Line from Newcastle to Scotland. The Castle Keep and Blackgate pre-dated the construction of the Newcastle town wall, construction of which started sometime around 1265, and did not form part of it. Nothing remains of the Roman fort or the original motte and bailey castle. The Keep is a Grade I listed building, and a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
The Keep is owned by the City Council, who lease it to the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne, who manage it as a visitor attraction. The society is based in the Blackgate, and use it to house a library and as a meeting place.
At some unknown time in the Anglo-Saxon age, the site of Newcastle came to be known as Monkchester. During this time, a cemetery was established on the site of the Roman castle.
In 1095 the Earl of Northumbria, Robert de Mowbray, rose up against William Rufus and Rufus sent an army north to crush the revolt and to capture the castle. From then on the castle became crown property and was an important base from which the king could control the northern barons.
Additional protection to the castle was provided late in the 13th century when stone walls were constructed, with towers, to enclose the town. Ironically, the safety provided by the town walls led to the neglect of the fabric of the castle. In 1589, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth the castle was described as being ruinous. From the early 17th century onward this situation was made worse by the construction of shops and houses on much of the site, often using the fabric of the castle for building materials.
The original building would probably have had a flat roof, but in 1618 James I leased the gatehouse to a courtier, Alexander Stephenson. Stephenson substantially altered the gatehouse, rebuilding the upper floors. Stephenson then let the Black Gate out to various tenants, one of whom was a merchant, named Patrick Black. It was he who gave his name to the Black Gate.
Eventually houses were built along both sides of the passageway, and one part of the building became a public house. By the early part of the nineteenth century, the Black Gate had become a slum tenement, housing up to sixty people.
Blackgate was leased to the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne in the 1880s, which extensively restored it between 1883 and 1885. It was the Society that added the top floor and pitched roof. The Society has held regular meetings there ever since. The drawbridges to the front and rear have been replaced by wooden footbridges.
During the 16th to the 18th century, the keep was used as a prison. By 1800 there were more than fifty houses within the boundaries of the castle housing several hundred people.
The Black Gate was approached via a drawbridge across a moat. A wooden bridge has replaced the drawbridge. The original gate had a portcullis, and the recesses where this fitted can still be seen.
The keep is currently owned by Newcastle City Council and managed by the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne, one of the world's oldest antiquarian societies.
The Castle Keep and Blackgate can be visited today. The keep is also notable in having the main East Coast railway line running through the center of the grounds. In particular, the battlements offer fine views over the River Tyne quayside, the cathedral and Newcastle Central station.
Description harvested from The Castle, Newcastle - Wikipedia
OLD PHOTOS OF THE CASTLE
Portrait photo looking through the Black Gate into the Castle Garth. View from the west.
(Image from 1969)
Portrait photo looking at the Black Gate from the castle garth. View from the southeast.
(Image from 1969)
Newcastle Castle. History and photos.
Welcome to the Castle Keep, Newcastle Upon Tyne