The Priory stands next to the castle remains and its east wall is one of the finest Early English compositions in the country.
The earliest monastery to stand on the headland north of the River Tyne and was founded sometime before the middle of the seventh century.
Tradition would have us believe that Sir Oswin King of Deira, was buried there in 651 after being killed on the orders of his cousin Oswy (alias Oswiu), King of Northumbria. He was the first of the three kings buried at Tynemouth.
The Priory was fortified by the monks after the first Danes raiding party plundered the building. However, after another failed attempt the massacre of St Hilda’s Nuns and the destruction of both church and monastery was the result of their next attack in 865. The Priory its-self was destroyed by Danes in 875.
Re-founded for the Benedictine monks from St. Albans Abbey, Herefordshire, in 1085 by Robert de Mowbray, Earl of Northumberland. The Body of Malcolm III of Scotland was interred in the Priory church, before being moved to Dunfermline Abbey.
The Castle on the site is reported as being there at the time of Robert de Mowbray’s capture in 1095. Then in 1296 permission was granted to surround the monastery with walls of stone.
In 1390 a gatehouse and barbican were added to further fortify the castle defenses. For those of us who are not too sure what a barbican is our history books record it as being a narrow exterior walled passage, with multiple gates leading to the main entrance.
The walled passage only allowed a small number of people into it, allowing those within the castle to greatly trounce the enemy reducing their number considerably before they could get anywhere near the main gates.
The brochures say ‘With its 2000 year history it makes for a pleasant day out for the family. Disabled visitors have car parking facilities. Guide Dogs are Permitted. Drive up the causeway from Front Street, through castle gatehouse and turn right. Visitors parking in village face a 150m uphill walk and 70m of cobbles at the gatehouse.’
I will be adding further photographs after my next visit. (webmaster)