The county of
Northumberland has one of England's riches mixes of historical and
natural attractions. Nestled within the hills and dales of the region's
beautiful and rugged countryside are the ancient towns, villages and
ruins of Roman, medieval and Saxon origins. Whilst on the coast, the
endless miles of fine sandy beaches are intermittently interrupted by
peaceful fishing villages, and the ruins of castles which stand as
testaments to former unrest.
most northerly region, Northumberland has seen some of the fiercest
border conflicts in history and consequently has more castles and
strongholds than any other English Region.
began more than eighteen centuries ago when the Emperor Hadrian built
Hadrian's Wall to keep tribal raiders out of the Holy Roman Empire.
Running 73 miles from Bowness in Cumbria to Wallsend in Tyne and Wear,
it crosses much of the western area of Northumberland. Although large
sections of the wall have long since disappeared the parts that remain
are of great historical importance and attract visitors from all over
the constant shift in strategic advantage more evident than in Berwick
upon Tweed, England's most northerly town. It saw no less than 13
changes in nationality during 300 years of border history. In an
attempt to deter aggressors a defensive wall was built around the town.
It remains today as Europe's best example of Tudor walled
was not always the scene of conflict, indeed, after the Roman retreat
the Christian message began to reach even the remotest corners of the
region and its offshore islands. In AD 635 St. Aidan settled on Holy
Island (Lindisfarne) where he built a monastery in celebration of his
Christian faith. Holy Island, lays just off the Northumberland cost
north of Bamburgh and is reached by a three mile causeway during low
tide. The monastery now lies in ruins but a 16th century castle still
stands impressively on the eastern reaches of the island. Holy Island
is a popular destination with visitors, not only as an area of
outstanding beauty but also because of the local drink, Lindisfarne
south, on the Farne Islands, visitors can visit a 14th century chapel
that was erected as a tribute to St. Cuthbert, who died on Inner Farne
in 687. It was here that he went to meditate, and perhaps more
importantly where he laid down rules for the care of nesting eider
ducks. The island, now owned by the National Trust, has become one of
the finest seabird breeding colonies in Europe. Visitors can reach the
Islands on organised boat trips from the port of Seahouses. Other
attractions include a colony of grey seals, and the light house from
which Grace Darling, one of the region's celebrated heroines, made her
dramatic rescue of seamen shipwrecked on nearby rocks.
parts of the region are owned by the nation, much remains in the hands
of one family, the Percys, Dukes of Northumberland. There home, since
1309 has been Alnwick Castle. In Summer months visitors can view this
and other stately homes throughout Northumberland and trace the
region's development and growth.
rich cultural heritage is matched only by the beauty of the surrounding
countryside and coastline. As the least populated English county, it is
still possible to find yourself in remote areas of outstanding beauty
with no company other than the wildlife indigenous to the region.