The Castle Keep which overlooks the River Tyne, in Newcastle is one of the best preserved Norman Keeps in the country. It was first built to strengthen the original town fortifications constructed by Malcolm Courthouse a son of William I (William the Conqueror). The Keep was built by Henry II with construction taking place between 1172 and 1177. Later a number of additions were made, including the famous Black Gate being added by Henry III between 1247 & 1250. The Keep is located in an easily defensible position on a steep sided promontory which shows signs of occupation for the last 2000 years. The Romans are known to have used this site, and they established a fort here to guard the river crossing. Later a Christian cemetery occupied this spot before the building of the Keep led to the building we can see today.
The Castle Keep is now a popular tourist attraction, owned by the City Council of Newcastle and leased to the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne. It is open to the public almost every day.
Despite the public opening of the building, not everything about the Keep is easily explained. The unusual history of this site has led to many accounts of supernatural activity in the building, these include everything from voices and footsteps in empty corridors to unexplained cold spots, and poltergeist activity, with visitors being touched, pushed, or scratched by unseen hands.
One of the more striking features of the activity at the Keep is how much of it has been recorded on camera. Photographs abound showing unexplained shadows, mists, and and even bright floating orbs. At the centre of all this activity is the Queens Chamber. The sound of chanting monks is often heard emanating from this area and echoing throughout the Keep. On several occasions the figure of an unknown lady has been seen nearby, especially in the chapel.
The best known ghost at the Keep is reported to be “the Poppy Girl”. The story is told of a flower girl being imprisoned here for debt. While locked up here she was beaten by other prisoners and subsequently died. Today she is often seen standing on the stairs of the Keep, she makes her presence known to visitors with the scent of flowers in the air.
A visit to the Newcastle Castle Keep will let you explore this fascinating building for yourself, and see if you can help unravel some of the mysteries which still surround the Keep today.