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Newcastle Keep

Tyne and Wear

Military, Intellectual life

The re-emergence and renovation of Newcastle’s medieval castle in the early decades of the 19th century represents the first flowering of antiquarian interest in the Region.

The Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne, founded in 1813, was the first Antiquarian Society to be established outside of the capital. It played a pivotal role in saving the Castle Keep and the nearby Black Gate from destruction in the 1800s by the expanding railway.

The new castle, which gives the city its name, was founded in 1080 by the eldest son of William the Conqueror. The Black Gate barbican was added in the middle of the 1200s. The construction of town walls by the mid-1300s made the castle redundant as a defensive structure. The vaulted roof and crenelated parapet with corner towers were added around 1810. But it nevertheless stands as one of the finest examples of Norman keep in the country.

Its survival through the following centuries is a testimony to the ingenuity of generations of Novocastrians who reinvented it as a court, prison, workshops, garrison and slum housing.

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