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Tyne and Wear HER(17266): Newcastle, Castle Garth, ringwork - Details

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Newcastle, Castle Garth, ringwork








Physical Evidence

The Castle was founded in 1080 by Robert Curthose, eldest son of William the Conquerer, after he returned from a campaign against the Scots. The Norman Castle was built on a sandstone spur overlooking the river. The land drops steeply to the east and south. The slope of The Side creates a triangular plateau so that only the western landward side needed defending. In 1095 Robert Mowbray, earl of Northumberland, held the Castle when it was beseiged and captured by William II (Rufus). The Castle fell to the Scots during the 12th century contest between Stephen and Matilda. In 1157 it was recaptured by Henry II. Archaeological evidence appears to represent a clay and stone bank formed from the upcast from a ditch outside the bank. The rampart and external ditch ran from the head of The Side to Long Stairs, roughly following the line taken by the later medieval Castle ditch, possibly utilising and enlarging an earlier ditch, perhaps the boundary of the Roman fort. The ditch may have been lined with clay. The sloping side was up to 7m deep. Either the bank did not continue along the north side of the Castle or it was removed when the late 12th century fortifications were built. The profile of the bank is not known. The clay bank has been interpreted as part of a ringwork (similar to Elsdon, Mote Hills, Sewingshields Castle and Green Castle in Northumberland). There are documentary references to knights' accommodation on guard at Newcastle. And another to a postern, later built over by a baron's house. Walls and other features were observed when the railway was cut through the Garth before 1847 and discussed by Longstaffe in 1860. An excavation in 1906 revealed partial plans of the hall and east curtain. The Castle has undergone archaeological excavation in 1974-5, 1977-8, 1980-1993 and 1995.




T Arnold (ed), 1885, Symeonis Monachi Opera Omnia 2, Historia regum, p 211; WHD Longstaffe, 1860, The New Castle upon Tyne, Archaeologia Aeliana, Series 2, Vol 4, pp 45-139; WH Knowles 1926, The castle, Newcastle upon Tyne, Archaeologia Aeliana, Series 4, Vol 2, pp 1-51; PSAN 1928, series 4, Vol 3, pp 245-6; B Harbottle, 1966, Excavations at the south curtain wall of the castle, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1960-61, Archaeologia Aeliana, Series 4, Vol 44, pp 79-145; B Harbottle, 1982, The castle of Newcastle upon Tyne: Excavations 1973-1979, Chateau Gaillard 9-10, pp 407-18; B Harbottle and M Ellison, 1978, Excavations at the castle, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1977, Archaeological Newsbulletin for CBA3, 2, Vol 4, pp 7-8; B Harbottle and M Ellison, 1979, Excavations at the castle, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1978, Archaeological Newsbulletin for CBA3, 2, Vol 7, pp 10-12; ; B Harbottle and M Ellison, 1981, An excavation in the castle ditch, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1974-6, Archaeologia Aeliana, 5th Series, Vol 9, pp 75-250; B Harbottle and J Nolan, forthcoming, The medieval castle of Newcastle upon Tyne; T Arnold (ed), 1879, Henrici Archidiaconi Huntendunensis Historia Anglorum, p 218; R Howlett (ed), 1884, Chronicles of the Reigns of Stephen, Henry II and Richard I: William of Newburgh, Historia Rerum Anglicarum, pp 105-6; J Nolan et al, 2010, The Early Medieval Cemetery at the Castle, Newcastle upon Tyne, Archaeologia Aeliana, 5th series, Vol 39, p 195; D Petts with C Gerrard, 2006, Shared Visions: The North-East Regional Research Framework for the Historic Environment, p 77; O Creighton, 2002, Castles and Landscapes; CP Graves and DH Heslop, 2013, Newcastle upon Tyne - The Eye of the North, An Archaeological Assessment, pp 100-101

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