Tynemouth Priory and Castle

Tynemouth Priory & Castle

Tynemouth Priory and Castle is a most impressive ruin, seen here in the evening sun. Standing on a rocky outcrop between Tynemouth village and the sea, it dominates the mouth of the River Tyne. There had been a church on this site for hundreds of years before 1090, when Robert de Mobray, Earl of Northumberland, caused the Priory to be built. Earlier buildings had been attacked by the Vikings (or Danes as they were called) no less than five times, the first invasion coming in 800, the last attack coming in 875, when the priory was destroyed.  Many years later, in 1296, the Prior was given the right to fortify the buildings on site – so a priory and castle it became. No less than three kings are supposedly buried here including, Oswin, King of Deira (d.651), who was later to become St Oswin, and Osred, King of Northumbria from 789-790. There are also hundreds of other gravestones, many of them of the Benedictine monks who were sent here from their ‘mother house’ in St Albans – not a happy transfer, I am sure.

King Henry VIII took possession of the Priory upon the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1538, and the buildings began their long slide into obscurity. By the time of the First World War a small military garrison occupied this important spot to guard against possible German naval forays. The site was also used to house  a coastal battery during the Second World War, and has also been the site of a Coastguard Station.

Now, English Heritage owns the Priory and Castle, and their magnificent ruins are open to all, for a reasonable entrance fee.

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