Discovery Museum has 17th century blood on its hands in Siege and Storm: Civil War

By Ben Miller | 11 February 2011
A photo of two sculpted death masks in profile
Death masks come to Newcastle
Exhibition: Siege and Storm: Civil War in Newcastle, Discovery Museum, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, February 12 – October 30 2011

Among the bloodshed of the 17th century English Civil War, Newcastle arguably symbolised the nature of the violent hostilities.

In 1644 the Earl of Leven led thousands of Scottish troops south of the border, intent on capturing the city to secure lucrative coal and weapon resources arriving from the continent for Parliament.

The Marquis of Newcastle retaliated by stirring the Royalist northern army for a march from York to counter their Highland invaders, who were met by treacherous weather conditions which allowed the Marquis to reach the city before his enemies.

Sir Thomas Glemham’s bolstering of Newcastle’s defences meant the stronghold could withstand a long siege, but battle raged around Sunderland and Durham as anarchy became the greatest threat to Tyneside.

A photo of a piece of armour
Armour accompanies weapons and ale bottles in the show of conflict
The story of a divided city is told in an exhibition planners in the North-East expect to prove gruesome.

“It explores life under siege, as well as the hot topics of the 1600s – witches, the plague and popular games of the times,” says Learning Manager Adam Goldwater.

“Walking around the exhibition, visitors will really feel like they have stepped into Newcastle during the 1600s. It will then be up to them to choose their side – Parliamentarian or Royalist.”

Many of the items on show have enjoyed special conservation efforts for the display, including clocks, coins, ale bottles, swords, bayonets and a crossbow from more than 300 years ago.
  • Hands-on activities including shield and badge-making will take place at the museum between 10.30am-12.30pm and 2pm-4pm on Saturday (February 12 2011).
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