You may remember, or not, a couple of weeks ago I posted mine & Sophie’s outings to Mog on the Tyne and Newcastle Cathedral. We also visited Newcastle Castle & The Black Gate that day, so I thought I’d get part 1 done, as there’s still lots of Newcastle photo’s to come, I love it there.
As always, buckle up..it’s
The History Bit
The castle is a medieval fortification, built on the original site of a Roman Fort (Pons Aelius (dat’s latin 🙂 ) guarding a bridge over the River Tyne. The most prominent remaining structures on the site are the Castle Keep, the castle’s main fortified stone tower, and the Black Gate, its fortified gatehouse. Now, Pons Aelius means Bridge of Aelius, and Aelius was the family name of that great Emperor Hadrian who also built a wall across the North of England to keep the pesky Scottish people at bay.
The anglo-saxons named the place Monkchester, (week! sounds too much like Manchester to me!) and then later on in 1080 the Norman king William 1st’s son Robert Curthose came charging up to defend us from those wee scots, and when he’d sorted them out he moved to Monkchester and started building a New Castle (geddit? 🙂 ) n 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. It was a motte & bailey castle so didn’t last that long I guess.
So Henry II replaced it with a rectangular stone keep, which was built between 1172 and 1177 at a cost of £1,444. A stone bailey, in the form of a triangle, replaced the previous wooden one. The master mason or architect, Maurice, also built Dover Castle. The great outer gateway to the castle, called ‘the Black Gate’, was built later, between 1247 and 1250, in the reign of Henry III.
In 1643, during the English civil war, the Royalist Mayor of Newcastle, Sir John Marley, repaired the keep and probably also refortified the castle. In 1644 the Scottish army crossed the border in support of the Parliamentarians and the Scottish troops besieged Newcastle for three months until the garrison surrendered. But we get on well with the Scots for all that. Except at footy matches. The town walls were extensively damaged and the final forces to surrender on 19 October 1644 did so from the Castle keep.
During the 16th to the 18th century, the keep was used as a prison. During the siege, the Scots bombarded the walls with their artillery. The Scottish commander threatened to destroy the steeple of St Nicholas Church nearby by gunfire if the mayor, Sir John Marley, did not surrender the town. The mayor responded by placing Scottish prisoners that they had captured in the steeple, so saving it from destruction. Take that!
The “Black Gate” was added to Newcastle Castle between 1247 and 1250, forming an additional barbican in front of the earlier north gate of the castle. It consisted of two towers with a passage running between them. On either side of the passage was a vaulted guardroom. There was a drawbridge at the front (facing west) and another at the rear. There was also a portcullis which could be raised and lowered to seal the entrance passage.
In 1618 James 1 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. Info from wiki.
So now you are edumacated, lets do the pics.
This next shot got me thinking.. if you had legs long enough to take those giant steps, how would you get out of that window??
This is the entrance to the Royal Chapel of the castle and is one of the finest surviving examples of Norman decorative stone carving in England. This chapel was reserved for royalty, & when the king wasn’t in residence, the priest would pray for the souls of the Royal Family.
It always amazes me how thick they built the walls.
When the Scottish prisoners were held in the castle, some of them carved their names into the walls. Thomas Cuthbert’s name, still easy to see after 372 years. Wonder if he got put in the steeple? 🙂
So part 2 to follow soon, but that’s enough for now,