Historically, Newcastle was the traditional county town of Northumberland.
The first bridge over the River Tyne was constructed by the Romans, which was guarded by a fort called 'Pons Aelius' on Hadrian's Wall. Parts of the wall still remain in the town
After the Romans left, Newcastle became known as 'Monkchester' and formed part of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria.
Due to the understanding of the area's strategic significance, the son of William the Conqueror constructed a wooden fort in 1080, which determined the first 'New Castle' or 'Novum Castellum'. A stone version of the castle was built in the twelfth century and the town walls in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The protection of these fortifications meant that Newcastle could develop into one of the great provincial centres.
As early as the reign of Elizabeth I the town was exporting coal. The phrase 'taking coals to Newcastle' was first coined in the sixteenth century.
The shipbuilding industry, for which the town is famous, developed in the seventeenth century. At one time, a quarter of all the world's ships were built in Newcastle. Industry expanded rapidly in the nineteenth century.