William Rufus' Tower, Newcastle
Shelfmark: Additional MS 15543
The New Castle that gave the town its name was built in 1080 by Robert, eldest son of William the Conqueror, but its keep came almost a century later, between 1168 and 1178. King William Rufus stormed Newcastle in 1095, taking the city back from the rebellious Earl of Northumberland, Robert de Mowbray. During the 16th and 17th centuries the keep was put to various utilitarian purposes, including supporting a windmill. It became hemmed in by later buildings and suffered the indignity of being shorn of its battlements.
The 19th-century restoration returned the keep's embattled skyline, but also gave it an uncomfortably close railway viaduct. In contrast to Berwick, where the railway station virtually erased the medieval castle, here the East Coast mainline simply walks on stilts, as it were, across the bailey - a characterful neighbour rather than a soulless destroyer.