Castle Keep, which is made of stone, was built by Henry II between 1172 and 1177. The Black Gate was added by Henry the III between 1247 and 1250.The Castle is located on a steep sided promontory which overlooks the River Tyne. It is a defensible site which has been occupied for almost 2000 years. It is believed that there is also prehistoric activity in the place due to the stone axe and Flint flakes found during an archaeological excavation there.
There was once a Roman fort which stood in the site and it was called Pons Aelius. It guarded the river crossing below. It is believed that the place where the Swing Bridge now stands was once the site of the Roman Bridge. In the 8th century the fort was used as a Christian cemetery.
The Black Gate was added to the Castle between 1247 and 1250. It has two towers with a passage running between them. There were vaulted guardrooms on each side of the passage, a drawbridge at the front and another one at the rear. A portcullis which could be raised up and down also sealed the entrance passage.
The Black Gate was leased to a courier named Alexander Stephenson. He subsequently made a few changes to the gatehouse and rebuilt the upper floors. One of the most popular tenants of the Black Gate was Patrick Black and it was he who gave the name to the Gate.
Today the Castle Keep is a Grade I listed building and is open to the public 361 days a year. It has become a heritage visitor attraction which is owned by the City Council of Newcastle. It is currently leased and managed by the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne.
Castle Keep Ghosts
There have been numerous ghostly stories told about Castle Keep which range from the sounds of ghostly footsteps on narrow corridors which appear to be empty once investigated to unexplained mists which several visitors have captured on their cameras. Hundreds of photographs have been published both online and in books which have sightings of dark shadows, orbs and mists. Visitors have felt cold spots appear and disappear without any reason and people have been touched by invisible hands.
The Queens Chamber is one of the centre of haunting. Many people have reported hearing chanting in the chamber which could be heard echoing around the walls of the Keep. This chanting sound is said to be made by chanting monks. A lady has been seen many times in the chamber, especially in the chapel. Visitors have reported being attacked, scratched and shoved within the walls of Castle Keep.
The Keeps most famous ghost is called the Poppy Girl. Legend has it that she is the ghost of a flower girl who was sent to prison because she owed some people money. While she was in prison, she was raped and beaten to death by the male prisoners. She is often seen on the stairs of the Keep. It is said that when she is nearby, a whiff of flowers is present in the air.
Saturday 18th November
9pm to 2am
(Over 18s only, no pregnant ladies or alcohol consumption)
THIS LOCATION IS UNSUITABLE FOR THOSE WITH RESTRICTED MOBILITY, THERE ARE A LOT OF STEEP WORN STEPS
Castle Keep Saint Nicholas Street Newcastle upon Tyne Tyne and Wear NE1 1RQ