Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for NORTHUMBERLAND

NORTHUMBERLAND, a maritime county in the N of England; bounded, on the N W and the N, by Scotland; on the N E and the E, by the North sea; on the S, by Durham; on the S W and the W, by Cumberland. Its outline is irregularly pentagonal, with a long side toward the N W, a short side toward the N E, and longsides toward the E, the S, and the W. Its boundary, on the N W side, is formed mainly by a watershed of the Cheviots and by the river Tweed; on the N E and the E sides, by the North sea; on the S side, mainly by the rivers Tyne and Derwent; on part of the W side, by the river Irthing. Its greatest length, from N to S, is nearly 70 miles; its greatest breadth, from N by W to E by S, is about 50 miles; its circuit is about 225 miles, 90 of which are along the Cheviots and 50 along the coast; and its area is 1, 249, 299 acres. It exceeds in size all thecounties of England except York, Lincoln, Devon, and Norfolk. The Cheviots project far within the border; occupy great part of the parishes of Wooler, Kirknewton, Ilderton, Ingram, Alnham, Alwinton, and Elsdon; formmasses grouped skirt to skirt, or shoulder to shoulder, like clustering cones, with dome-shaped summits; and rise to altitudes of from 1, 280 to 2, 658 feet. The surface from their base, eastward to the sea and south-eastward to the Tyne, may be described generally as a hanging plain, but consists largely of either low tableau orlow plain. The tracts in the S W to the extent of about25 miles from Highfield and Hareshaw moors to the Sborder, and from 10 to 28 miles eastward from the Wb order, are chiefly moor and mountain, beautifully intersected by the valleys of the North Tyne, the South Tyne, and the Allen, much diversified also by verdant hills and hanging plains, and rising at or near the boundaries toaltitudes of from 1,000 to nearly 2,000 feet. Much of the scenery is wild, bare, or monotonous; but much alsois richly and variedly picturesque. The chief rivers are the Tweed, the Till, the Alne, the Coquet, the Wansbeck, the Blyth, the Tyne, the Derwent, the North Tyne, the Reed, the South Tyne, the Allen, and the Irthing. Mineral springs are at Thurston, Eglingham, and near Holystone. The coast is prevailing low and little diversified; Coquet island, the Fern islands, and Holy Island lie off it; and the most remarkable of its features are noticed, in order from S to N, in the following lines:

and now the vessel skirts the strand
Of mountainous Northumberland;
Towns, towers, and halls successive rise,
and catch the nuns' delighted eyes.
Monk wearmouth soon behind them lay,
and Tynemouth's priory and bay.
They mark'd amid her trees the hall
Of lofty Seaton-Delaval;
They saw the Blyth and Wansbeck floods
Rush to the sea through sounding woods:
They pass'd the tower of Widdrington,
Mother of many a valiant son;
At Coquet Isle their beads they tell
To the good saint who own'd the cell;
Then did the Alne attention claim;
and Warkworth, proud of Percy's name;
and next they cross'd themselves to hear
The whitening breakers sound so near,
Where boiling through the rocks, they roar
On Dunstan borough's cavern'd shore;
Thy tower, proud Bamborough, mark'd they there
King Ida's castle, huge and square,
From its tall rock look grimly down,
and on the swelling ocean frown;
Then from the coast they bore away,
and reach'd the Holy Island's bay.

Most of the Cheviots and a few tracts on the coast consist of igneous rocks, chiefly porphyritic trap; the tracts north-eastward and eastward of the Cheviots to the sea, and the tracts south westward and southward of the Cheviots and of the previous tracts, all within a line drawn south-westward from Alnmouth to Haltwhistle, and thence nearly along the course of the Roman wall to the W border, consist of lower carboniferous rocks, chiefly carboniferous limestone and shale; a considerable belt along all the S E side of these tracts, to Hexham, narrowing thence to Haltwhistle, and bending south-ward up the W side of the South Tyne, together with a tract around Allendale, consists chiefly of Yaredale rocks and upper limestone shale; a narrower belt along the S E side of that belt, but expanding toward the S particularlyaround Matfen, consists chiefly of millstone grit; and thetract between the latter belt and the sea, all down from Warkworth to the Tyne, narrow in the N, but gradually expanding toward the S, and reaching from Tynemonth to by well along the Tyne, consists of the coal measures. Building stone, of various kinds, is comparatively plentiful, and is extensively quarried. Roofing, flag, and grindstones are quarried at byker and other places. Limestone is plentiful throughout the great carboniferous limestone tract, and is extensively calcined for manure. The coal-field is continuous with the coal-field of Durham; and the two together occupy an area of about 700 square miles, have at least 142 collieries, and, in 1859, yielded an output of 16,001, 125 tons, in 1866, 25, 194, 550 tons. Iron ore abounds in the coal-field; was obtained, in 1859, to the amount of31, 500 tons; was then worked in 18 furnaces; and, since then, has been much more extensively worked. Lead ore abounds in the limestone region; is worked largely at Allenhead, Shildon, Fallowfield, Coalcleuch and other places; and yields at least 4, 500 tons of lead a year. Silver occurs along with the lead ore, and is obtained in the proportion of about 11 ouncesto a ton of lead. Zinc likewise occurs along with the lead ore. The males employed in quarrying, mining, and kindred work, within the county, at the census of1 861, were 605 in stone-quarrying, 133 in limestone-quarrying and burning, 12, 611 in coal mining, 11 in iron-mining, 1, 287 in lead-mining, 185 in other kinds of Mining, 2, 616 in iron manufacture, 31 in steel manufacture, and 671 in lead manufacture. Steatite occurs, in small veins, on Callaly hill; topazes, on the banks of the Coquet; and agates and porphyritic pebbles, on the banks of the Coquet, the Alne, and the Glen.

About 150,000 acres are in tillage; about 650,000 are in pasture; and most of the rest of the area is mountain sheep-walk or barren moor. Plantations are plentiful enough to give an ornate appearance to most of the lowtracts; but native forests or old woods are sparse and meagre. Estates, in general, are large. Farms generally range from 300 to 1, 200 acres in the best arable parts; and sometimes extend to 2,000 or even 3,000 acres around the braes of the Cheviots. Farm-tenure is various, but commonly either at will or on 21 years' lease. The soils, on the seaboard, are principally strong, fertile, clayey loam; in the central and S E parts, a moist loamon cold impervious clay; on the banks of the Till, the Alne, the Coquet, and the Tyne, variously sand, lightgravel, or dry loam; in the mountainous parts, a blackpeat-earth. Agriculture is somewhat variable, and retains, in some parts, certain usages which cannot be called good; but, on the whole, exhibits a highly improved condition, shows a better advance on old practices than is to be seen in almost any other English county, and is conducted in a skilful and enterprising spirit. A five-year rotation, known as the Northumberland husbandry, is very prevalent; oats in the first year, turnips or potatoes in the second, spring wheat or barley in the third, clover or grasses in the fourth, and pasture in the fifth. Oats are of superior kinds, and yield 44 bushels on the average, but 72 on the best farms; wheat yields from 25 to 30 bushels on the average, and 36 on the best farms; barley yields 40 bushels on the average; and beans yield 30. Short-horned cattle areused for the dairy; and the Durham and Scotch breed, are preferred for fattening. The native Cheviot sheep, a hardy useful breed with a small fleece of ordinary wools prevails in the uplands; a long-woolled breed, much improved by the introduction of the Leicesters and South-downs, prevails on the lowland farms; and the total of sheep is about 500,000, and yields about 14,000 packs. The horses are chiefly of the Clydesdale breed, middle-sized, muscular, strong, and active. The chief manufactures concentrate on the Tyne, in and near Newcastle, and consist of ships, boats, anchors, boilers, nails, engines, machines, coaches, chemicals, glass, pottery, canvas, linen, and woollens. The persons employed in ship-building, within the county at the census of 1861, were 1, 692 males; in boat and barge building, 172 males; in sail-making, 194 males; in anchor and chain-making, 294 males and 1 female; in boiler-making, 713 males; in nail-making, 81 males and 4 females; in engine and machine making. 2, 858 males; in coach-making, 289males; in the manufacture of chemicals, 25 8 males; in the manufacture of dyes and colours, 22 males; in glass manufacture, 746 males and 68 females; in earthenware manufacture, 623 males and 168 females; in tobacco pipe-making, 44 males and 3 females; in flax and linen manufacture, 60 males, and 13 females; in woollen-cloth manufacture, 110 males and 21 females; in worsted manufacture, 37 males and 1 female; in rope and cord-making, 312 males and 41 females. One railway, part of the main line of the North eastern, goes from Newcastle, northward past Morpeth, and along the seaboard to Berwick; another goes from Newcastle, westward up the Tyne and the South Tyne, past Hexham and Haltwhistle, toward Carlisle; another, opened to about 8 miles in 1867, deflects from the preceding in the neighbourhood of Hexham, and goes south-westward to Allendale; another deflects from the Newcastle and Carlisle at H alt-whistle, and goes southward into the S E corner of Cumberland at Alston; another deflects from the Newcastle and Carlisle, in the vicinity of Hexham, and goes up the valley of the North Tyne, past Bellingham and Falstone, into Scotland at Riccarton, to proceed thence to Hawick and Edinburgh; another goes from Newcastle, down the Tyne, to Tynemouth; others ramify from the last along the coast to Blyth and Newbiggen, and thence inland to Morpeth; another strikes from the North eastern at Morpeth, and goes westward, up the Wansbeck valley, past Cambo, to the North Tyne valley at Reedmouth; another, in course of formation in 1869, goes from the Berwick and Kelso line into the interior south-south-eastward, past Ford, to the vicinity of Rothbury; another, a short branch line, deflects from the North-eastern at Bilton, and goes northwestward to Alnwick; and another, the Berwick and Kelso, leaves the North eastern at Tweedmouth, and goes up the Tweed, past Norham and Cornhill, into Scotland at Kelso. The roads, so long ago as 1814, comprised 458 miles of paved streets and turnpike roads, and 2, 322 miles of other high-ways used for wheeled-carriages.

The county contains 90 parishes, part of another parish, and 6 extra-parochial tracts; and is divided into the boroughs of Berwick-upon-Tweed, Morpeth, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and Tynemouth, the wards of Bambrough, Castle, Coquetdale, Glendale, Morpeth, and Tindale, and the tracts of Bedlingtonshire, Islandshire, and Norhamshire. These three latter tracts, aggregately comprising 64, 389 acres, belonged to Durhamshire prior to the act of 1844 for consolidating detached parts of counties; they all lie naturally within the Northumberland, two of them in the extreme N; and, by the act of 1844, they were politically incorporated with it. The registration county is conterminate with the electoral county, as enlarged by the act of 1844; and is divided into the districts of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Tynemonth, Castle-Ward, Hexham, Haltwhistle, Bellingham, Morpeth, Alnwick, Belford, Glendale, and Rothbury. Two members are sent to parliament by Berwick-upon-Tweed; two by Newcastle-upon-Tyne; one by Morpeth; one by Tyne-mouth and North Shields; and four by the rest of the county, cut into two divisions, N and S. Alnwick is the place of election for the N division, Hexham for the S div.: and there are twelve polling-places. Electors of the N div. in 1833, 2, 322; in 1865, 3, 109, of whom 1, 514 were freeholders, 40 were copyholders, and 763 were occupying tenants. Electors of the S div., in 1833, 5, 192; in 1865, 5, 511, of whom 3, 519 were freeholders, 196 were copyholders, and 1, 266 were occupying tenants. The towns with each upwards of 2,000 inhabitants in 1861 are only the boroughs and the two places of election; but there are about 600 smaller towns, villages, and hamlets. Some of the principal seats are Alnwick Castle, Ford Castle, Howick, Etal, Chillingham, Bolam, Seaton-De-laval, Belsay, Blagdon, Capheaton, Haggerstone Castle, Ewart Park, Featherstone Castle, Kirkharle, Matfen, Wallington, Amble, Beaufront, Belford House, Biddle-stone, Blenkinsop, Brinckburn, by well, Callaley, Charlton, Causey, Chesters, Chipchase, Close House, Craster House, Cromlington, Dissington, Elswick, Gosforth, Harbottle, Little Harle, Heddon, Hesleyside, Kirkley, Lilburn, Lindon, Milburn, Minster-Acres, Mitford Castle, Morwick, Nunnykirk, Nunwick, Otterburn, Pallins-burn, Roddam, Shawden, Swinburn, Twizel, Unthank, Weetwodd, and Wolsingham.

The county is governed by a lord lieutenant and custos, a high sheriff, about 32 deputy lieutenants, and about 210 magistrates; and is in the N judiciary circuit, the N E military district, and the diocese of Durham. The assizes are held at Newcastle, and quarter sessions, at Newcastle, Morpeth, Hexham, and -Berwick-upon-Tweed. County jails and houses of correction are at Morpeth, Tynemouth, Alnwick, and Hexham; a townjail and house of correction is at Newcastle; a borough jail is at Berwick; and the county lunatic asylum is at Morpeth. The police force, in 1864, comprised 4 men for Berwick, maintained at a cost of £296; 140 for Newcastle, at a cost of £10, 415; 34 for Tynemouth, at a cost of £2, 403; 31 for the river Tyne, at a cost of £2, 268; and 109 for the rest of the county, at a cost of £9, 299. The crimes committed in 1864 were 21 in Berwick, 288 in Newcastle, 30 in Tynemouth, 27 on the river Tyne, and 266 in the rest of the county; the persons apprehended were 11 in Berwick, 78 in Newcastle, 13 in Tyne-mouth, 10 on the river Tyne, and 78 in the rest of thecounty; the depredators and suspected persons at large were 61 in Berwick, 891 in Newcastle, 326 in Tynemouth, and 643 in the rest of the county; and the houses of bad character were 8 in Berwick, 202 in Newcastle, 51 in Tynemouth, and 108 in the rest of the county. Poor-rates in 1863, £135, 439. Marriages in 1863, 3, 306; of which 1, 105 were not according to the rites of the Established Church; births, 12, 971, of which 1,073 were illegitimate; deaths, 8, 153, of which 3, 542 were at ages under 5 years, and 172 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 27,058; births, 110, 439; deaths, 71, 157. The places of worship, in 1851, were 154 of the Church of England, with 52, 405 sittings; 6 of the Church of Scotland, with 3, 538 s.; 31 of the English Presbyterian or Free Church, with 13, 606s.; 31 of United Presbyterians, with 12, 784 s.; 14 of Independents, with 6,060 s.; 9 of Particular Baptists, with3,080 s.; 1 of Scotch Baptists, with 250 s.; 7 of Baptists undefined, with 400 s.; 4 of Quakers, with 1, 312 s.; 3 of Unitarians, with 1, 282 s.; 110 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 20, 114 s.; 13 of New Connexion Methodists, with 4,046 s.; 56 of Primitive Methodists, with8, 724 s.; 19 of Wesleyan Reformers, with 3,075 s.; 1 of the New Church, with 400 s.; 6 of isolated congregations, with 570 s.; 20 of Roman Catholics, with 4, 286 s.; 1 of Latter Day Saints, with 50 attendants; and 2 of Jews, with 134 s. The schools were 301 public day schools, with 124, 765 scholars; 341 private day schools, with 12, 524 s.; 359 Sunday schools, with 29, 687 s.; and 22 evening schools for adults, with 629 s. Real property in 1815, £1, 291, 413; in 1843, £1, 542, 434; in 1860, £2, 376, 429, of which £5, 793 were in quarries, £218, 504 in mines, £9, 250 in ironworks, £5, 356 in fisheries, £585, 701 in railways, and £13, 440 in gas-works. Pop. in 1801, 168,078; in 1821, 212, 589; in 1841, 266,020; in 1861, 343,025. Inhabited houses, 55, 565; uninhabited, 2, 706; building, 614.

The ancient British Ottadeni inhabited the E parts of what is now Northumberland; the ancient British Gadeni inhabited the W parts; and both are supposed to have been in strict alliance with the Brigantes. The Romans, under Agricola, subdued all the country, to-gether with the part of Scotland S of the Forth and Clyde; they constructed two lines of defences, the one from the Forth to the Clyde in Scotland, the other from the Tyne at Walls end across the S of Northumberland toward the Solway frith; they restored or re-made the old British road called Watling-street, running north-westward through Northumberland, past Corbridge to the Cheviots; and they included all Northumberland in their province of Valentia. Their line of defence from Wallsend to the Solway proved insufficient to resist in-surrections and attacks from the N; was strengthened, so as to consist of a stone wall with N ditch, an earthen wall or vallum S of the stone wall, a chain of stations, castles, and watchtowers, and lines of road chiefly between the stone wall and the vallum, in the time of Hadrian; and will be described in our article Roman Wall. The Picts frequently overran the nor thern and central parts of Northumberland, and broke through the wall; but they were finally repelled, or reduced to quietude, in the time of Valentinian. The Romans departed in446, and left the country a prey to civil discord. The Saxons were invited by the distracted inhabitants to pacify the country; Ebusa and Octa, brothers of Hengist, landed on the coast of Northumberland in 454, but do not seem to have made much impression; Ida, called the flame-bearer, landed in 547, built a castle at Bambrough, and founded the kingdom of Bernicia; and that kingdom extended from the Tyne to the Forth, took its name from the river Brennich or the part of the Till above Wooler, and was eventually united to the kingdom of Deira toform the kingdom of Northumbria. Edwin, who mountedthe throne in 617, introduced Christianity; Egbert, king of Wessex, wrung submission from Eanred of Northumbria in 823, and got entire possession of the country in 828-30; the Danes over ran it in 844 and 867; Edward the Elder defeated them in a great battle at Corbridge; Athelstan over threw the combined forces of the Scots and the Cumbrians, in another great battle at Brunan-burgh; and Edred completely conquered all Northumbria in 942, divided it into baronies and counties, and transmuted its kings into jarls or earls. One of the earldoms took the name of Northumberland, and extended southward to the Tees and northward to the Forth; and the history of it became interwoven with the history of Scotland, but practically terminated in the death of Siward, who dethroned Macbeth of Scotland, restored Malcolm, and died in 1055. Tosti Godvinson, brother of King Harold, nominally succeeded Siward; but the inhabitants viewed him as a despot, and speedily expelled him, saying, " We have learned from our fathers to live as freemen or to die." Copsi, who was assassinated by R. Comyn, also became nominally Earl; Cospatrick afterwards purchased the title; Bishop Walthe of of Durham, Mowbray the Norman, Prince Henry of Scotland, and Bishop Pusar successively wore it; the Percys got it in 1377, and retained it till 1461; Neville, Lord Montagu, then received it; and the Percys got it again in 147, and retained it till 1537. The title was afterwards changed to Duke; went to John, Earl of Warwick; passed in 1557, to the Percys; remained with them till 1670; became extinct; was revived in 1683, in favour of George Fitzroy; and again became extinct. The title of Earl was revived in 1749, infavour of A. Seymour, Duke of Somerset; and the title of Duke was revived in 1786, infavour of the Smithson-Percys.

William the Conqueror encountered great resistance in Northumberland, scourged most of it nearly to desolation, and drove multitudes of the inhabitants into the mountains and the forests, but never got possession of Tyne-dale and Redesdale. Northumberland then was practically part of Scotland, linking its fortunes with those of the Scottish kings; and it continued, through out William's reign, and through out the reigns of William Rufus, Henry I., Stephen, Henry II., and Richard I., to be a scene of incessant reprisals and retaliation between theforces of Scotland and those of England. Malcolm III., in 1019, invaded, wasted, and burnt the county as far as to Alnwick; David I., in 1135, seized Norham, Alnwick, and Newcastle; and William the Lion, in 1166 and subsequent years, over ran the county, seized its fortresses, and terribly devastated its towns and mansions. William was at last taken prisoner, and carried captive into the presence of Henry II.; Malcolm IV. had previously made acession of Northumberland to Henry II.; and William subsequently paid homage to King John; yet was not the county saved from repetition of conflicts and disasters. Alexander II., in 1244, advanced as far as to Ponteland; but retreated in consequence of Henry III., with an army, being at Newcastle. Great events, aris ing out of the unsettled state of the Scottish succession, occurred in various parts, particularly at Berwick and Norham. The Scots, in resistance to Edward I., or in retaliation of his measures, in one year, ravished Redesdale and Tynedale, and burnt Corbridge and Hexham; in another year, recaptured Berwick, laid waste the country around Rothbury, and menaced Newcastle; in another year, after the battle of Bannockburn, made terrible raids into much of the county, and again burnt Corbridge and Hexham; and in another year, 1318, captured Wark, Harbottle, and Mitford, and again recaptured Berwick, which had been retaken by the English. The Scots also, in 1327, captured Norham; in 1333, blockaded Bambrough; in 1372, won the battle of Carham; in 1385, took the castles of Wark, Ford, and Cornhill; in 1387, on the day of Chevy Chase, were routed at Otterburn; in 1400, after the fall of Wark, were defeated at Fulhope-Law and Homeldon; in 1436, won the battle of Pepper-dean; and, in 1448, took and burnt Alnwick. A great battle between the Yorkists and the Lancastrians was fought at Hexham in 1464. Perkin Warbeck devastated the county in 1496. The Scots suffered a disastrous overthrow at Flodden in 1513; they were defeated again at Branxton, in 1524; and they invaded England and took Newcastle in 1639. Other events are noticed in the articles on the principal towns.

A great multitude of antiquities, in great variety, exist in connexion with the Roman wall; and many of these are seen in the wall's own course, and on the sites of its stations and castles, while others have been collected into local museums and repositories. The Roman Watling-street is partly in tolerable preservation, and has partlybeen converted into a good modern road; and a station on it at Bremenium, the modern High Rochester, about 22 miles N of the wall, has left distinct traces of ramparts, ditches, and gates; and yielded important discoveries during excavations made in 1852 by the Duke of Northumberland, and more recently by the Newcastle Society of Antiquaries. Another Roman station was on Watling-street at Risingham; and another, at Corbridge. Abranch Roman way went from Watling-street to Alnwick. Two Roman camps were at Tynemouth and North Shields; two also were on the Durham side at the E end of South Shields and at Jarrow; and these four, with perhaps the aid of other works, commanded the Tyne from the E end of the wall to the sea. Ancient camps, which have left some remains, were likewise at Whatton, Whitley, Whitchester, Rosedon-Edge, Kirk-newton, Black Dykes, Bolam, Outchester, Spindeston, Belford, Rothbury, Castlehill near Callany, Glanton-Pike, Berwick-Hill, Greencastle near Wooler, Harelaw near Paston, and Castlestone-Nick near Cornhill. The lords of the East Marches, which comprised all the northern part of what is now Northumberland, wielded vast powers for repelling or punishing raids during the middle ages; and they were aided, in the discharge of their onerous duties, by royal fortresses at Bambrough and Newcastle, by noble fortresses at Wark, Alnwick, and Prudhoe, by baronial strongholds and peel-towers in many places, by bastel-houses in towns and villages, and even by some fortified ecclesiastical towers, as at Corbridge and Elsdon. Very many of the mediæval strengths, or considerable remains of them, still exist, particularly at Bambrough, Newcastle, Wark, Prudhoe, Tynemouth, Ogle, Bellister, Thirlwall, Staward-le-Peel, Langley, Willimoteswick, Simonsburn, Kielder, Cockley, Ayden, Hatton, Welton, Morpeth, Bothall, Dunstanborough, Witton, Harbottle, Hepple, Edlingham, Lilbourn, Horton, Fowberry, Rothbury, and Berwick. Remains of abbeys are Hulne, Newminster, Blanchland, and Hexham; remains of priories are at Lindisfarne, Brinckburn, and Tynemouth; and interesting old churches are at Seaton-Delaval, Ponteland, Heddon-on-the-Wall, Bolam, Elsdon, Newcastle, and Hexham.

(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a maritime county"   (ADL Feature Type: "countries, 2nd order divisions")
Administrative units: Northumberland AncC
Place: Northumberland

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