The moated castle towers, gatehouse and keep are combined with the ruins of the Benedictine priory where early kings of Northumbria were buried.
The coat of arms of the town of Tynemouth still includes three crowns commemorating the tradition that the Priory had been the burial place for three kings.
Little is known of the early history of the site. Some Roman stones have been found there, but there is no definite evidence that it was occupied by the Romans.
The Priory was founded early in the 7th century, perhaps by Edwin of Northumbria.
In 800 the Danes plundered Tynemouth Priory, and afterwards the monks strengthened the fortifications sufficiently to prevent the Danes from succeeding when they attacked again in 832. However, in 865 the church and monastery were destroyed by the Danes.
Earl Tostig made Tynemouth his fortress during the reign of Edward the Confessor. By that time, the priory had been abandoned and the burial place of St Oswin had been forgotten.
According to legend, the St Oswin appeared in a vision to Edmund, a novice, who was living there as a hermit.
The saint showed Edmund where his body lay and so the tomb was re-discovered in 1065.
Tostig was killed at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066 and so was not able to re-found the monastery as he had intended.
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