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Newcastle History, United Kingdom

Newcastle, or Newcastle upon Tyne, is a historic city located in North East England. Newcastle’s history is almost as old as England itself, going back to two thousand years ago. The Roman ruins are a living proof of Newcastle’s longevity and rich cultural heritage. During the Roman occupation, Hadrian’s Wall was built as a system of defense. The Romans built a bridge over the Tyne River and then a small fortress whose role was to guard it. These constructions, located on the grounds of today’s Newcastle, represented the eastern ending of the wall.

Newcastle History – Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, Newcastle, named ‘Monkchester’ by the Anglo-Saxons, was in the middle of the armed confrontations between The Scots and the English. On his way back from a battle with the Scots, Robert Curthose, son of William the Conqueror, decided to build a castle on the banks of Tyne River. This was how Newcastle entered the annals of history in 1080. In the following years, another wall was raised, a wall that managed to shield the new settlement against the raids of Scottish warriors for several centuries. Newcastle was back then a busy port, shipping wool, grindstones, lead and even coal to London, the Baltic countries and Germany. Newcastle was also a major trading and manufacturing centre in Northumberland, with an emerging ship building industry and two regional annual fairs. In the 13th century, Newcastle began to host quite a number of friars and religious orders like Carmelite, Dominican, Benedictine, who were spreading Christianity in the region. All these orders were dissolved during Reformation, and their goods sold to merchants.

Newcastle History – Newcastle in Modern Times

During the Elizabethan period, Newcastle received its first mayor and city council, which were granted by a royal charter in 1600. By the 17th century, the city’s main industry became the export of coal, followed by shipbuilding, salt extraction, glass, iron and steel manufacturing. Due to its economic growth the city continued to progress in all aspects: new hospitals, schools, theaters were built across the next two centuries, a process that lead to an extension of the city borders and a significant demographic increase. The Victorian period gave Newcastle much of its present architecture, by the genius of Richard Grainer and John Dobson. Newcastle gained several new important assets in the 20th century: two universities, new bridges, a fast urban transport system and several museums. Also, Newcastle history as a coal exporter came to an end with the closing of the last coal mine in the mid ‘50s, leaving only the famous saying “bringing coal to Newcastle” as a reminder. For a better understanding of the history of this part of UK, see the Leeds History and the Edinburgh History articles.

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