Newcastle Keep

Newcastle Keep is in the NE of the country and has a very long history but gaining this information was limiting. The Keep is owned by Newcastle City Council who leases it to the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle Upon Tyne from 1880. It is probably the oldest antiquarian society in England. Restoration as done between 1883-1885 adding the top floor and pitched roof and the drawbridge was replaced with a wooden footbridge.

On the site before the Keep from the 2nd and 5th century was a Roman fort of Pons Aelius. During Anglo-Saxon times the site was known as Monkchester due to a small community of Monks making a settlement. During 1080 a new castle with a Motte and bailey was built out of timber and earth by Robert Curthose (son of William the Conqueror). The castle was seized by Baron by Robert De Mowbray, Earl of Northumberland during a rebellion in 1095 but later the rebellions surrendered to the Kings Army.

During Henry II reign (1168) the castle was rebuilt in stone with additions of a gatehouse and curtain wall. An aisled hall was built-in the bailey during King Johns reign and there was a passageway running between 2 towers and 2 vaulted store rooms on either side of the passage. There were also 2 drawbridges, one at the back and one at the front and a portcullis (gate). A Barbican, the black gate was added to the North Gate during the reign of Henry III. During the 14th century the town wall was finished and this caused isolation for the castle and during 1589 the castle is described as ruinous and old.

During 1618 the Blackgate was converted into a house and leased to a courier Alexander Stephenson (1618) by James I, he built the upper floors. Stephenson let the gatehouse to many tenants including Patrick Black (which the gatehouse is named after). During Victorian times its was cut off from the keep by a railway track. During the English Civil War (1643) Sir John Morley repaired the keep and it is thought to have refortified the castle. In 1644, 40,000 Scottish troops seized the castle until the 1,500 garrison surrendered 3 months later.

During the 16th and 18th century the keep was used as a prison. There were more than 50 houses built within the castle boundary either side of the passageway housing several hundred people and one became a public house. The black gate became a slum area housing up to 60 people during the early 19th century.

Newcastle Keep ghosts, the information is very scarce and I found this a challenge but I have found some information. The most well-known is the Poppy Girl, she was incarcerated, raped and beaten to death by the male prisoners. It is thought a poppy was sent to the girl as she owed money. She has been seen on the stairs and aroma of flowers have been smelt.

Other recorded activity includes a small child that throw stones, strange black shapes seen, growling heard, people being scratched and bitten. Chanting is heard in the chapel along with footsteps. A lady is seen in the Queens Chamber. Cold spots, mists seen and people being touched.

Npeg and Aspire joined forces to host a public night at the Keep and here is a short summary of what happened on the night. Temperature changes on request, being touched, hotness, coldness, lights seen, feeling of sickness, emotions felt, rustling heard, significant temperature drop, shadows seen, footsteps and EMF meters going off unexplainable. The name Michael was picked up twice by two different groups in different areas. A Male was sensed in the Well Room by two different groups. Poppy was sensed, she is the well-known ghost of the Keep. The smell of tobacco was smelt twice by two different groups. Hurr/moan was heard in the Garrison Room twice by two different groups. Noises were heard in the Kings Chamber by two different groups.

Copyrighted by Tracy Monger 2012

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