The origins of Newcastle under Lyme and its name are unclear. There is no direct entry for the town in the Domesday Book of 1086 but there appears to be a double entry for Trentham that suggests there was a pre-Norman settlement here.
It was thought that the ‘New’ castle was so called to distinguish it from the Roman fort at Chesterton. It is now believed that the word new means ‘novel’ – it would have been new when it was built! The ‘Lyme’ refers to the huge Lyme Forest that covered North West Staffordshire and South Cheshire at this time.
The History of the Castle
The castle was built in the 1140s during a time of civil war. The Lyme Valley was an important junction between east and west, north and south. It was, therefore very important to control this area for strategic defence reasons. A mound was formed in the valley and a moat was created around the castle to defend it from attacks by damming the Lyme Brook at Pool Dam and Rotterdam. This created an artificial lake. It would have been an impressive sight on approach.
The first castle was a Norman style motte and bailey castle built of earth and timber. In the early 13th century the castle walls were rebuilt in stone.