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History Around us Coursework – Newcastle Keep

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Rebecca Khan 10 A-6 History Around us Coursework - Newcastle Keep Why was the Castle built and how was it developed? There are many reasons why Newcastle Keep was built and how it was developed. First of all we should look at the national reasons of why the castle was built, and this was basically because the Normans' hand just conquered Britain and castles were essential to protecting this newly conquered country. There were many national reasons why the castle was built and the first of these is that it was built as a symbol of power and military control. When the Normans' conquered Britain they decided to build castles all around the country to show just how powerful they were and to show what they were capable of building. They wanted everyone to marvel at their creations and see just how much military control they had by building large places, because size equals power and they wanted everybody to know that they were extremely powerful so they would respect them. Even when Newcastle was a Motte and Bailey people would still come from all over to look at it because they had never seen anything like it before. Another national reason was they were built as bases for tax and law and order. People would come to the castle to pay their taxes and prisoners would be brought to the castle so Sheriffs' could hold courts there as they were very big and good for those sort of things. They were also used as bases for knights so they could eat, sleep, rest and recuperate, and so that in a time of attack the castle would give them some form of protection. Knights could also defend castles well and hundreds could be kept in one castle incase of an attack. Castles were also used to observe the English from as they used to make many attacks against the Normans' to try and regain power, but from a castle you could see them coming from miles away so you could be prepared to defend your castle. ...read more.

Middle

We cannot really say which of these two is right or wrong because we aren't actually too sure ourselves. The castle has many Square Keep features to it but it also has many Transitional features aswell. Now I will try and decide what style of castle Newcastle is, and see which one of the historians I agree with the most. Castle styles did change a lot from when they were first built and from the early styles the later styles developed tremendously. The first style of castle was the wooden Motte and Bailey, which were built by the Normans' soon after they took control of England. These castles weren't very strong and could easily be set on fire or knocked down, so they decided to build castles made of stone, which were stronger, and these were called Square Keeps'. These were built in the 11th and 12th centuries and Barbara Harbottle argues that Newcastle is one of these. These castles were also thought of as too weak so at the beginning of the 13th century they built an even stronger castle as you could undermine Square Keeps', invade them with siege towers, fire things at them with catapults and many more things too. These new castles were called Transitional Castles and were a lot stronger than Square Keeps', Frank Graham and Frank Parker Brewis argue that Newcastle is this style of castle. Transitional castles were almost impregnable because of their features, however there was another style of castle after Transitional which was even stronger, and this was a Concentric Castle. These were the latest styles of castle and were thought to be almost impossible to attack as they had so many excellent defence features. We could distinguish what style of castle of castle Newcastle Keep is from looking at the typical features that a Square Keep and Transitional Castle has. A Square Keep did have some different features to a Transitional Castle, for example, Square Keep's had square corner towers around the outside of the castle, and they also had very high and thick walls. ...read more.

Conclusion

These were very common times to build castles at, and we know this by comparing the building dates of some other castles in the North of England. Warkworth Castle was built in 1150, this is very close to the rebuilding of Newcastle in stone, which shows that it was typical. Durham Castle was built in 1072, which is close to when Newcastle was built as a Motte and Bailey, so that shows it's typical. Auckland Castle was built in 1200 which is close to when Newcastle was built in stone, which also shows Newcastle was typical. Two of the many other castles that were built in the north when built as close to Newcastle. Lumley Castle was built in 1392 and Raby Castle was built in 1360 and even though these aren't very close dates they aren't miles off, and don't show that Newcastle was totally atypical. Now, even though Newcastle had many typical features it also has some atypical features that make it stand out from other castles of it's time. One of these features is the round tower on one side of the castle. The castle has 3 square corner towers which were very typical of Square Keep's, however, the 4th tower is round which is a perfect example of a Transitional feature. This is very strange and makes Newcastle very atypical as no other castle has a strange feature like this. This feature can be explained though as it's on the North-west and most vulnerable side of the castle, so it protects that side. The other 3 sides of the castle are protected by water but the North-west isn't, and as circular towers are stronger than square ones that could be why that side of the castle has a round tower. So, this feature can be explained but it still doesn't stop Newcastle from being atypical, as it's a very unique feature. Here is a picture of the round tower of Newcastle Keep: - Another very atypical feature of Newcastle is that it declined very early, and many years before most other castles started to decay. ...read more.

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