The first castle – the New Castle upon Tyne – was founded in 1080 by Robert Curthose, eldest son of William the Conqueror. The castle was probably of motte and bailey type. Nothing can now be seen above ground. By the 14th century the castle was isolated and became militarily redundant. From that time on few repairs are recorded, and by 1589 it was described as old and ruinous.
The castle keep and black gate are now all that remain of this building but the keep is considered one of the best examples of a Norman keep in England.