Posts Tagged ‘Tynemouth priory and castle’

Tynemouth Priory and Castle from town

Tynemouth Priory and Castle from town

In the late 19th century the site was used for Army barracks, but this ceased when some of the blocks were destroyed by fire in 1936.

Tynemouth castle as an 19th century army barracks

Tynemouth castle as an 19th century army barracks

The site was again put to military use in World War I when a coastal battery command post was established on the headland and in World War II when a coastal defence battery was sited here.

WWII coastal battery

WWII coastal battery

WWII coastal battery casement stores (where shells and charges were stored (separately) for the battery above

WWII coastal battery casement stores (where shells and charges were stored (separately) for the battery above

The site was vacated by the Ministry of Defence in 1960, at which time they demolished most of the remaining 19th/ 20th century buildings on the site. In 1980 a new coastguard station was opened with in the ruins of the old Priory. However, this was short lived and it was closed again in 2001.

Coastguard building 1980=2001

Coastguard building 1980-2001

The site is now managed by English Heritage as a historical site.

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Tynemouth Priory was refounded around the year 1090 and in 1093 was the site of burial of King Malcolm the third of Scotland after he had been killed at the Battle of Alnwick (it is believed that at some later date, the King’s body was removed from Tynemouth and reburied in Dunfermline).
The Priory continue to be redeveloped throughout the 13th and 14th centuries with the addition of new buildings, new walls and a new gatehouse. It is believed this was a result of increased raiding into Northumbria from Scotland.

Gatehouse

Gatehouse

In 1312 King Edward II, sought refuge in Tynemouth whilst fleeing in the company of his favourite Piers Gaveston. In Christopher Marlowe’s play ‘King Edward II’ there is a scene titled ‘before Tynemouth Castle’. The Priory was disbanded in 1536 and the Priory lands given to St Thomas Hilton, but the Castle remained in royal hands.

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14th century floor tile from site

14th century floor tile from site

14th centruy pilgrims badge from site

14th centruy pilgrims badge from site


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New fortifications were added to the Castle from the year 1545 onwards and in 1564, it was the birthplace of Henry Percy, who would become the ninth Earl of Northumberland, his father being at the time the guardian of the Castle. In 1665 a lighthouse was built on the site, primarily from stone taken from the Priory buildings, in order to aid shipping entering the River Tyne. This remained in operation until 1898.

Tynemouth Lighthouse

Tynemouth Lighthouse

Aerial view of Tynemouth priory and Castle today

Aerial view of Tynemouth priory and Castle today

During my recent visit to Northumberland, I visited Tynemouth Priory, which is situated on a high rocky headland on the north shore of the mouth of the River Tyne. It was a horrible wet morning and I could not help but feel sorry for those for whom this had been their home. I mentioned this to the people in the information centre and they said that there were actually letters from medieval monks in the Priory describing how they hated the place because of its weather and because the waves crashing on the rocks below would keep them awake at night.

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There is evidence that the site was occupied during the Iron Age, but apart from a few small remains it doesnot appear to have been occupied during the Roman period.

Iron Age round-house

Iron Age round-house

It is believed that Tynemouth Priory was founded in the early seventh century. It is recorded that in 651 Oswin, King of Deira, was buried there after being murdered. He was subsequently canonised and the shrine of St Oswin became a site of pilgrimage. He was the first of three Kings to be buried in the Priory. The second was King Osred of Northumbria, also a victim of murder, in 792.
In the ninth century, the Priory was repeatedly attacked by the Danes and despite work to strengthen the defences was eventually destroyed in 875. There seems to have been no inclination to rebuild the Priory at this time and so the site lay unused for about 150 years.
In the reign of Edward the confessor, the land was owned by Tostig, Earl of Northumberland and brother of the future King Harold. He rebuilt Tynemouth as a fortress. During this time the tomb of St Oswin was rediscovered and Earl Tostig planned to found a new monastery on the site. However, in 1065 he had a falling out with his brother, who persuaded the King to exile Tostig from country. Tostig first sought sanctuary on the continent and then with King Malcolm III of Scotland. In 1066, together with the Scots and Norwegians he invaded north-east England. It was an invasion that was to change the course of English history as he chose to invade just a few weeks before William of Normandy would launch his invasion of the south of England. The newly crowned King Harold marched North to meet them and defeated them at the battle of Stamford Bridge, at which Tostig was killed. It was in the midst of the celebrations of this victory that King Harold received the news that William of Normandy has landed in Sussex.
With no progress on the re-founding of the monastery the remains of St Oswin were moved to the monastery at Jarrow.

7th century broach found on site

7th century broach found on site