THE NEWCASTLE TOWN WALLS
In 1265 the burgesses of Newcastle decided to supplement the defences of the castle with the building of town walls to protect them from the raids of invading Scots. When completed the walls extended for over two miles around the town and were never less than 7 feet thick and up to 25 feet high. The castle and its Black Gate were not part of the town walls but were enclosed within them.
The Newcastle town wall consisted of six main gateways called Sand Gate, West Gate, New Gate, Pandon Gate, Pilgrim Gate, and Close Gate along with seventeen towers and a number of smaller turrets built as lookout posts situated at intervals between the towers and gates. During the reign of Henry VIII the famous antiquarian John Leland described Newcastle’s defences as “far passing all the waulls of the cities of England and most of the cities of Europe” in their strength and magnificence.
Today the most impressive surviving section of the old town wall is to the west of the city centre. It can be found in the vicinity of Stowell Street where the remains of four towers may also be seen. A smaller section of wall survives near Forth Street behind the Newcastle Central Station but nothing remains of the walls to the north of Newcastle. To the east only the remains of three isolated towers remain. One tower in the vicinity of City Road has a small gateway called the Sally Port from where defenders of Newcastle would Sally forth against the enemy.