Northumberland And Durham: History And Heritage

The Dolphin's BrainStarred Page By The Dolphin's Brain, 18th Jul 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>Europe>England>The Northeast

I rarely get the opportunity to visit the north-east, and often it is for a very brief period. This article highlights some of the best places to visit in the area if time is short.

Northumberland's Border History

Mention Northumberland to most people who live south of the Pennines and it will probably elicit a confused look followed by a vague comment referring to Newcastle, or even Sunderland! These days, of course, those two cities inhabit the county known as Tyne and Wear (albeit the county council no longer exists), although Newcastle’s history places it squarely within Northumberland’s old borders.

This demonstrates nothing more than a common ignorance of English history, which I readily admit to myself as far as much of the detail is concerned. For Northumberland is a central character in much of this nation’s development and, most certainly, is the main reason why the border with Scotland is where it is today.

Castles Galore

Northumberland is the least densely populated county in England but boasts the greatest number of castles, which provides a major clue to its historical significance. This is where many a battle was fought repelling invaders from Scotland. The Duchy of Northumberland was so historically powerful because of its strategic importance that it remained a hotbed of Catholicism and Jacobite sympathisers in a way that was not possible in many other parts of the country.

Harry Potter Lives!

If history doesn’t appeal as a reason to take you to Northumberland, then perhaps wizardry and a penchant for broomsticks might. In fact, you do not have to choose if you take a visit to Alnwick Castle, seat of the Percy family, the Dukes of Northumberland, for centuries and also the backdrop for many scenes from the Harry Potter movies. Take the tour, drink in the history and learn to fly!

Whilst there, wander into the grounds and take a look at the largest treehouse you have ever seen. Sadly, not a place to indulge your childhood fantasies, but a restaurant. Impressive, nevertheless!

A Veritable Wonderland

This short piece, reflective as it is of a recent very brief visit, merely touches the tip of Northumberland’s offerings. It offers a glimpse into the religious history of the country as a whole, has brilliant wildlife – a visit to the Farne Islands will not disappoint any budding naturalist – and Hadrian’s Wall to boot. Visit the official tourist website, explore the variety on offer, plan your trip and just go.

The Quiet Road

Whilst in the north-east, spare some time for the spectacular scenery of County Durham, Teesdale in particular. Avoid the busy main roads and choose a route that takes you across the moorland. From Alnwick I travelled through Rothbury, Corbridge, Blanchland and Middleton on my way to Barnard Castle. I thoroughly recommend this longer route. You’ll see little other traffic, which is just as well because your eyes will be drawn to the scenery!

Barnard Castle

Barnard Castle itself is worth the visit to the town, but it also boasts The Bowes Museum; built in the 19th century in the style of a French Chateau it houses fine art and a musical silver swan automaton that has to be seen to be believed. Just outside the town is Egglestone Abbey, the ruins of a monastery of Premonstratensian 'white canons', which contains the most spectacular 5 light window in the north.
even better.
To top it all off, of course, you will also meet some wonderful and friendly locals, full of warmth and hospitality, who will make your stay

© The Dolphin’s Brain 2013


Alnwick, Alnwick Castle, Automaton, Barnard Castle, Blanchland, Bowes Museum, Corbridge, Durham, Egglestone, Farne, Harry Potter, Middleton-On-Tees, Newcastle, Northumberland, Percy Family, Premonstratensian, Rothbury, Silver Swan, Teesdale, White Canons

Meet the author

author avatar The Dolphin's Brain
I am a mixed bag of lawyer, vegan, environmentalist and sports nut and my writing is likely to be passionate, of-the-moment articles on a wide variety of topics. I also write the occasional poem!

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
9th Sep 2013 (#)

marvellous piece this...thank you...

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author avatar The Dolphin's Brain
9th Sep 2013 (#)

My pleasure, once again.

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author avatar Delicia Powers
10th Sep 2013 (#)

Very wonderful...thank you...

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author avatar The Dolphin's Brain
10th Sep 2013 (#)

Thanks Delicia, much appreciated.

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author avatar Johnny Knox
11th Sep 2013 (#)

Great and informative article.

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author avatar The Dolphin's Brain
11th Sep 2013 (#)

Thanks Johnny!

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