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By the early 14th century the Castle had been superseded in its task to repel Scottish invaders by the town wall, which encircled Newcastle and boasted six main gates, 17 towers and some turrets – thus reducing the Castle’s role to little more than a Royal supply base. By 1589, during the reign of Elizabeth I, the Castle was described as old and ruinous.
When civil war struck England in 1642, the Castle was briefly refortified with an artillery bastion and became the last stronghold of the town’s Royalist defenders, who eventually surrendered on the 19th October, 1644 to the Parliamentarians. During archaeological excavations, many military relics of the siege have been found, and names of two of the defenders, John Danby and Thomas Cuthbert, can still be seen scratched into one of the Keep’s chamber walls.
Following this, the Keep was used for many weird and wonderful purposes; on the ground floor there was an ice-house, and the Chapel had even became a beer cellar for the adjoining Three Bulls’ Heads public house by the 1780s. The lessee of the building in 1782, one Mr John Chrichloe Turner, did his best to complete the degradation of the Castle by advertising it to be let as a windmill!
The advertisement ran as follows:
"To be let, the OLD CASTLE in the Castle Garth, upon which with the greatest convenience and advantage may be erected a Wind Mill for the purpose of grinding Corn and Bolting' Flour, or making Oil, &c.
"There is an exceedingly good Spring of Water within the Castle, which renders it a very eligible situation for a Brewery, or any Manufactory that requires a constant supply of water. The proprietor, upon proper terms, will be at a considerable part of the expense. Enquire of Mr. Fryer, in Westgate-Street, Newcastle".