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Something Really Old in the Priory

If archaeologists wanted to find something really old in the Priory, there are two key places (among others) to look at. I know that some sections of the grounds have been well excavated, but I believe the Gatehouse and the mounds either side of it are the least explored places. And I have a feeling that the site of the Gatehouse is actually older than the Priory.** What’s under the floor of the great hall? And what is under what I call the dungeons at the entrance? Maybe these have been uncovered at some point, but didn’t the monks build more chambers and tunnels deep into the crag? Even Jingling Geordies Cave is supposed to have a well within one of its long since closed off chambers.

Altar found buried next to the Priory

As well as this, there is supposed to be a Roman well that was covered over somewhere near the Gatehouse. Imagine what’s at the bottom of that! A parallel might be drawn with the well that was found at Huntcliff in Teeside which was filled with skeletons and artefacts.

This is what Collingwood Bruce wrote in 1851:

“Nearly all traces of the camp [Roman] at Tynemouth have been erased. Some years after the modern well near the entrance into the castle was sunk, another of wide diameter, and cased with masonry, was discovered, in consequence of the falling in of its covering; it is supposed to be Roman, but was again closed by order of the commander of the garrison, before it could be properly inspected.”

  • Page 15 of the 2004 Council archaeological strategy for Tynemouth gives further indications of the medieval provenance of this section of the Castle, referencing Craster (1907) and the Survey of 1577.

  • This same page in the document states: “The complex has received almost no scientific excavation and little of the fabric has been recorded and analysed. It is the extent of the medieval defensive envelope which defines the area of the Scheduled Ancient Monument of the Castle”
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