Newcastle takes its name from the Norman castle built on a rocky eminence overlooking the river Tyne. Its origins stretch back beyond that at least to Roman times and coming down to the present day, its story shows how a mediaeval merchant town, developed through the reformation, the enlightenment, the industrial revolution, the Victorian Empire and the many upheavals of the twentieth century.
The town is also renowned for the bridges over the Tyne. There has been a river crossing here since Roman Times and the various bridges since that time have played a critical role in the development of the town.
Concealed beneath the streets of modern Newcastle, culverts carry waters of the various burns which formerly ran through or near the town in deep, steep-sided valleys, known as denes. Two of these burns, the Lort Burn and the Pandon Burn joined the river in a tidal sandy inlet which gave a favourable location to unload ships. Pandon Burn was the larger of these two streams and was nanvigable at high tide. The village of Pandon grew up around its lower reaches and in mediaeval times it became part of Newcastle and was probably the origin of the heritage of seamanship which was essential for the Development of the town. In later years The Key (quay) was built and the area behind filled in to generate the quayside area we have today.
As far as we can tell, the Tyne Valley was near the southern limit of the ice sheet in the last ice age. When the ice retreated (about 10,000 years ago) it left behind about 100' (30 metres) of glacial trash. Meltwater and stormwater surged over this landscape creating narrow steep sided valleys which are called denes. Denes are characteristic of the north-east from Lynemouth (Northumberland) to Crimdon Dene (near Hartlepool)