A medieval fortification in Newcastle upon Tyne, built on the site of the Norman castle from which Newcastle takes its name. Visit Newcastle Castle’s website.
- The town (now city) of Newcastle-upon-Tyne got its name from the ‘New Castle’ that was built in Norman times on the site of an old Roman fort next to the river Tyne.
- The ‘New Castle’ built in Norman times was probably a ‘Motte and Bailey’ castle, a wooden tower on top of an artificial hill which overlooked a wooden walled enclosure.
- The wooden castle was rebuilt in stone in the medieval period during the reign of King Henry II. The castle keep (fortified tower) which you can still visit today, dates from this period.
- The gatehouse was built in the reign of King Henry III. It had a portcullis (a heavy, vertically closing gate) which could be raised or lowered quickly. You can still see the grooves in the walls where the portcullis was mounted today. It also had a drawbridge.
- The gatehouse became known as the Black Gate, named after a merchant, Patrick Black, who held the lease to the building ( but is now thought to never have actually lived there) in the 1600s.
- In 1644 during the English Civil War Newcastle was besieged by the Scottish armies (who were on the side of Parliament) and the castle became the last stronghold of the Royalists who were defending the town. The Royalists eventually surrendered to the Parliamentarians on 19th October 1644.
- Two of the Royalists who were defending the castle during the siege scratched their names into the wall of the keep. You can still see this 17th century graffiti today!
- By the early 19th century, the Black Gate had become a slum (a poor, overcrowded area housing poor people).
Then and now
Voices from the past
A young man tells us about his grandfather’s experience as a prisoner in Newcastle Castle.
N.B .This audio clip is a work of fiction written and performed by a secondary school student. Although inspired by a real place in Newcastle and Gateshead, the characters and incidents which feature in it are either products of the student’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Dates and other information referred to in the clip may not be accurate.