Northumberland History

Northumberland is widely thought to have been so called due to the fact that it is the most northerly county in England and originally stretched right down to the north bank of the River Humber, hence 'North - Humber- Land'. 

There have been inhabitants here since the Bronze Age and the remains of Britain's oldest house, dated around 7500BC were discovered by archeologists at Howick in Northumberland. Since Roman times Northumberland has been invaded and occupied by numerous armies and was the site of many fierce and bloody battles in the quest to gain ownership and control of this wild and rugged landscape. This colourful and tumultuous history has left many reminders of what life was like throughout the ages and the county boasts more historic battle sites and castles than any other in England. 

Hadrians Wall is one of the most famous and well known examples of historic remains from the Roman occupation. Once guarded and patrolled by Roman soldiers, the majority of the wall lies within Northumberland and is the most visited site for tourists and walkers from all over the world. There is also the remains of Chesters Roman Fort which is another well visited attraction. The Devils Causeway is another example of the Roman roads which were so important to the development of towns and villages and eventually to industry here. 

Many Castles and Forts can be found throughout the countryside and are striking monuments to the struggle endured by the land owners and townspeople. Some are open to the public and have become interesting visitor sites with museums and visitor centres housing artifacts and relics. They provide a fascinating experience which gives real insight to what life was like here for our ancestors. Alnwick Castle was used as the setting for the Harry Potter Hogwarts film. One of the strongest castles which withstood many attacks during the Celtic uprisings is Warkworth Castle. 

Northumberland was also one of the most important religious areas of England and there are numerous Abbeys, Priories and Monastery remains, not least the atmospheric remains of the Lindisfarne Priory, which stand behind the castle on the breathtaking island of Lindisfarne. 

To the south of the county lies Newcastle, this grew up to be one of the most important industrial towns in the region, supplying most of the workforce for Northumberland. Most of the coal which was so important in the UK industrial revolution was mined in Northumberland, and evidence of this past industry can be seen in some areas. There are remaining seams of coal underneath the sea and embedded in the cliffs. At Snab Point near Cresswell there are often remnants of the coal to be seen washed up from the sea during certain tides, creating areas of "black sand". 

Burned lime was another of the once important industries of the area which was developed and widely used in agriculture during the 18th and 19th centuries. Local towns were supplied from brick kilns in the countryside and later harbour towns developed a busy shipping business taking the lime further afield. Examples of the kilns can be found in the embankment beneath Lindisfarne Castle and dotted around the countryside. 

The Northumberland National Park was established in 1956, and this wonderful and tranquil area became protected by the National Park Authority for us all to enjoy. This is the most northerly National Park in England and is teeming with wildlife, historic sites and clean clear rivers; it is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts, fishermen and history lovers. 

Northumbrian Water developed and constructed the huge Kielder reservoir between 1975 and 1981 to meet the rise in demand for water by the heavy industries of the surrounding area. The reservoir, which is the largest man made lake in Northern Europe, is fed by underground springs which ensures that there is always enough water to supply the whole of the north east of England, and it can also house the largest hydro electric power generation plant in England, hence also providing an important source of electricity for the UK. 

The decline of the local heavy industry has meant that the demand for water from Kielder was far less than originally anticipated. Today the economy of the region is now more dependant on tourism, which has become one of the fastest growing industries in the area. Kielder has now become more well recognised as part of 'Kielder Water and Forest Park', with the reservoir sited within the 250 square miles of the largest man made forest park in England. Providing a haven for water sports enthusiasts and lovers of the great outdoors, the forest park has been created to take advantage of the reservoir and encourage visitors to the area. It now houses three visitor's centres and offers every kind of water activity as well as walking, cycling, fly fishing, horse riding and bird watching. Over the past fifteen years there has been an art and architecture scheme here and this has resulted in an unusual and unique collection of award winning outdoor sculptures and art works within the park, with several interesting shelters having been constructed, providing work for local artists and areas of special interest for visitors.