Visitors to the town of Killingworth in Tyne and Wear will find that the region is steeped in history and as a result there are many heritage sites to visit for those who enjoy cultural pursuits. Northumberland is full of ruined castles, watch towers, churches and the like while the neighbouring county of Cumbria offers more of the same and is just a short drive away.
History buffs will find a visit to nearby Newcastle Castle a must as this ancient medieval fortress was what gave the city of Newcastle upon Tyne its name and there are some intimidating structures that still stand on this site today. These include the impressive fortified stone tower that was the Castle Keep as well as its fortified gatehouse that was known as the Black Gate, now a Grade I listed building. The site was originally used to defend the area going back to Roman times when it was home to a fort and adjoining settlement named Pons Aelius, whose purpose was to guard a pivotal bridge in the region that crossed over the River Tyne. In medieval times, a ‘motte-and-bailey’ castle was built here around 1080 and this was the name given to a fortress that had either a wooden or stone keep constructed on a raised earthwork (this was the motte or moat as it would later be referred to) and accompanied by an enclosed courtyard (or bailey) which had a ditch and palisade surrounding it for protection. This was constructed on the orders of the eldest son of William the Conqueror upon his return from a crusade against the ruling King of Scotland and is now owned by the local City Council who lease it to the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne. They now manage the site as a visitor attraction as it is one of the last remaining motte-and-bailey earthworks in Europe and it is within easy access from Killingworth and the surrounding areas as it is situated in the heart of Newcastle.
There are several other listed buildings in the area that will be of great interest to those who want to find out more about the local history and these are structures in the UK that have been deemed worthy of a place on the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, in order to preserve their heritage. These include Stannington St Mary’s Church with the original site dating back to 1190 with the later structure built in 1871 and this is still standing at present. The church has some beautiful architectural and stain glass features that attract many tourists every year. There are also many other old churches, abbeys, cathedrals and castles across Northumberland that are within easy access of Killingworth however the biggest tourist attraction in the area by far has to Hadrian’s Wall. This was built by the Romans from around 122AD, to keep out the neighbouring Scots invaders and much of this divide is still standing today, running horizontally across the landscape from the west to the east side of the country.