About Castle Keep
Castle Keep in Newcastle upon Tyne is a partially restored Norman fortification and one of the best preserved of its kind in Britain.
Built at a key strategic location, the site of Castle Keep has been occupied for almost 2,000 years with the Romans first fortifying the site in the mid-2nd century AD. Indeed the remains of this Roman fort, Pons Aelius, have been excavated and a few elements are visible close to Castle Keep. Following the fall of the Empire, the site came into use as an Anglo-Saxon Christian burial ground.
After the Norman invasion the site was refortified by Robert Curthose, eldest son of William the Conqueror. This fortification was called the ‘new’ castle upon the Tyne – later lending its name to the city which grew up around it.
The stone structure we see today was built by King Henry II in the late 12th century and was modified further over the next hundred years; in particular a barbican known as the ‘Black Gate’ was added to the in the reign of Henry III. However, by the 14th century the Castle Keep became largely militarily redundant due to the new, wider fortifications built around the town.
Though it was briefly refortified during the English Civil War – and was the last Royalist stronghold in the city – it would never again serve in a military capacity and was used as a prison for some time after. Restoration work during the 19th and 20th centuries returned much of the castle from a ruinous state and it now serves as a popular visitors attraction.
As well as exploring the Castle Keep – including the remains of the former prison chambers – visitors can get a great view of the surrounding area from the top of the fortification.