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Newcastle town wall, West Gate, Civil War finds





Post Medieval


The West Gate was used as a prison in C16 and C17 for troublesome apprentices and as a magazine. During the Civil War all seventeen prisoners escaped down a toilet shaft on ropes. The truncated base of a massive flat-bottomed ditch was recorded during 1991 excavations at the Cannon Cinema site. It was probably over 7m wide and was a new ditch cut to protect the town from the Parliament-supported Scottish army during the Civil War. The earliest fills contained finds of the third quarter of the C17 - sherds of C17 pottery (English slipware, whiteware and Weser), a distinctive sherd of C16 Beauvais double slip sgraffito, 1372 fragments of clay tobacco pipes, window, vessel and bottle glass, 13 pieces of lead shot, two pistol balls, several musket balls and 17 coins. The coins were C17 copper "small change" mostly 1629-79. Twelve of the coins were Scottish 2d coins (turners). One was a 6d Scottish 'Bawbee' of Charles II (1677-9). A lead cap from a charge holder was found (a musketeer carried a belt with usually 12 charge holders or cartridges suspended from it). The area outside the West Gate had been a long running disposal point for rubbish which was then cleared and used to backfill the ditch after the Civil War.




Notes taken during lecture by John Nolan 4th October 2008 "The Civil Wars on Tyneside as revealed by archaeology" at the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne Symposium 2008, The British Civil Wars in the North East; D.H. Heslop, L. Truman & J.E. Vaughan, 1994, Excavations on Westgate Road, Newcastle, 1991, Archaeologia Aeliana, Series 5, Volume XXII, pp153-184

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