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Long Crag.
Northumberland ( ) is a ceremonial county and unitary district in the North East of Englandmarker. It borders Cumbriamarker to the west, County Durham to the south and Tyne and Wear to the south east, as well as having a border with the Scottish Borders council area to the north, and a North Seamarker coastline of outstanding natural beauty with a walking track almost 102 kilometres long. Since the creation of Tyne and Wear in 1974, the county council has been located in Morpethmarker, situated in the east of the county.

As the kingdom of Northumbriamarker under King Edwin, the region's historical boundaries stretched from the Humbermarker in the south to the Forth in the north. The historic boundaries of the county cover a different area, including Newcastle upon Tynemarker, the traditional county town, as well as Tynemouthmarker and other settlements in North Tyneside, areas administered by Tyne and Wear since 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972. The historic boundaries of the county are sometimes taken to exclude Islandshiremarker, Bedlingtonshiremarker and Norhamshire (collectively North Durham), exclaves of County Durham which were incorporated into Northumberland in 1844.

Being on the border of Scotlandmarker and Englandmarker, Northumberland has been the site of many battles. The county is noted for its undeveloped landscape of high moorland, a favourite with landscape painters, and now largely protected as a National Parkmarker. Northumberland is the most sparsely populated county in England, with only 62 people per square kilometre.

Northumberland's county flower is the Bloody Cranesbill (Geranium sanguineum) and her affiliated Royal Navy ship is her namesake, .


The area was once part of the Roman Empire and as Northumberland it was the scene of many wars between Englandmarker and Scotlandmarker. As evidence of its violent history, Northumberland has more castles than any other county in England, including the castles of Alnwickmarker, Bamburghmarker, Dunstanburghmarker and Warkworthmarker.

The region of present-day Northumberland once formed the core of the Anglian kingdom of Bernicia, which was later united with Deira south of the River Teesmarker to form Northumbriamarker. Northumberland is often called the "cradle of Christianity" in England, because it was on Lindisfarnemarker, a tidal island north of Bamburghmarker, also called Holy Island, that Christianity flourished when monks from Ionamarker were sent to convert the English. Lindisfarnemarker was the home of the Lindisfarne Gospels and Saint Cuthbert, who is buried in Durham Cathedralmarker.

Bamburghmarker is the historic capital of Northumberland, the "royal" castle from before the unification of England under one monarch. In contemporary times, although Northumberland County Council's offices are in Morpeth, Alnwick and Morpeth contest which of the two is the county town.

The lords of Northumberland once wielded significant power in English affairs because, as the Marcher Lords, they were entrusted with protecting England from Scottish invasion.

Northumberland has a history of revolt and rebellion against the government, as seen in the Rising of the North in Tudor times. These revolts were usually led by the then Dukes of Northumberland, the Percy family. Shakespeare makes one of the Percys, the dashing Harry Hotspur, the real hero of his Henry IV, Part 1.

The county was also a centre for Roman Catholicism in England, as well as of Jacobite feelings after the Restoration. Northumberland became a sort of wild county, where outlaws and Border Reivers hid from the law. However, the frequent cross-border skirmishes and accompanying local lawlessness largely subsided after the Union of the Crowns of Scotland and England under King James I.

Northumberland played a key role in the industrial revolution. Coal mines were once widespread in Northumberland, with collieries at Ashingtonmarker, Ellingtonmarker and Pegswoodmarker The region's coalfields fuelled industrial expansion in other areas of the country, and the need to transport the coal from the collieries to the Tyne led to the development of the first railways. Shipbuilding and armaments manufacture were other important industries.

Today, Northumberland is still largely rural. As the least populated county in England, it commands much less influence in Britishmarker affairs than in times past. In recent years the county has had considerable growth in tourism due to its scenic beauty and the abundant evidence of its historical significance.

Physical geography

The physical geography of Northumberland is diverse. It is low and flat near the North Seamarker coast and increasingly mountainous toward the northwest. The Cheviot Hillsmarker, in the northwest of the county, consist mainly of resistant Devonian granite and andesite lava. A second area of igneous rock underlies Whin Sill (on which Hadrian's Wall runs), an intrusion of carboniferous Dolerite. Both ridges support a rather bare moorland landscape. Either side of Whin Sill the county lies on carboniferous limestone, giving some areas of karst landscape. Lying off the coast of Northumberland are the Farne Islandsmarker, another Dolerite outcrop, famous for their bird life.

There are coal fields in the southeast corner of the county, extending along the coastal region north of the river Tyne. The term 'sea coal' likely originated from chunks of coal, found washed up on beaches, that wave action had broken from coastal outcroppings.
River Coquet.
Being in the far north of England, above 55° latitude, and having many areas of high land, Northumberland is one of the coldest areas of the country. It has an average annual temperature of 7.1 to 9.3 °C, with the coldest temperatures inland. However, the county lies on the east coast, and has relatively low rainfall, between 466 and 1060 mm annually, mostly falling in the west on the high land. Between 1971 and 2000 the county averaged 1321 to 1390 hours of sunshine per year.

Approximately a quarter of the county is protected as the Northumberland National Parkmarker, an area of outstanding landscape that has largely been protected from development and agriculture. The park stretches south from the Scottishmarker border and includes Hadrian's Wallmarker. Most of the park is over 240 metres (800 feet) above sea level. The Northumberland Coastmarker is also a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.


There are a variety of notable habitats and species in Northumberland including: Chillingham Cattlemarker herd; Holy Islandmarker; Farne Islandsmarker; and Staple Islandmarker.

Economy and industry

Housedon Hill
This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Northumberland at current basic prices published (pp.240-253) by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.
Year Regional Gross Value Added Agriculture Industry Services
1995 2,585 130 943 1,512
2000 2,773 108 831 1,833
2003 3,470 109 868 2,494

Northumberland has a relatively weak economy amongst the counties and other local government areas of the United Kingdommarker. The county is ranked sixth lowest amongst these 63 council areas. In 2003 23% of males and 60% of females were earning less than the Council of Europe's decency threshold. As of May 2005 unemployment is at 2.3%, in line with the national average. Between 1999 and 2003 businesses in the county grew 4.4% to 8,225, making 0.45% of registered businesses in the UK.

A major source of employment and income in the county is tourism. The county annually receives 1.1 million UK visitors and 50,000 foreign tourists who spend a total of £162million in the county..


Northumberland has a completely comprehensive education system with 15 state schools, two academies and one independent school. Like Bedfordshire, it embraced the comprehensive ideal with the three tier system of lower/middle/upper schools with large school year sizes (often around 300). This eliminated choice of school in most areas - as instead of having two secondary schools in one town, one school became a middle school and another became an upper school; in individual towns everyone will go to the same school. A controversial programme introduced in 2006 known as Putting the Learner First has eliminated this structure in the former areas of Blyth Valley and Wansbeck, where two tier education has been introduced. Although the two processes are not officially connected, the introduction of two tiers has coincided with the move to build academy schools in Blyth, with Bede Academy and in Ashington at Hirst. These changes have been the focus of much controversy. One response to these changes ahs been the decision of Ponteland High School to apply for Trust status.

Cramlington Learning Villagemarker has almost 400 pupils in each school year; making it one of the largest schools in England. Blyth Community Collegemarker situated in south east Northumberland is able to hold 1500 students throughout the building. Astley Community High School which is situated in Seaton Delaval and accepts students from Seaton Deleval, Seaton Sluice and Blyth has been the subject of controversial remarks from politicians claiming it would no longer be viable once Bede Academy opened in Blyth, a claim strongly disputed by the headteacher. Haydon Bridge High School, in rural Northumberland, is claimed to have the largest catchment area of any school in England, reputedly covering an area larger than that encompassed by the M25 motorway around London.

The county of Northumberland is served by one Catholic High School, St. Benet Biscop Catholic High Schoolmarker, which is attended by students from all over the area. Students from Northumberland also attend notable independent schools in Newcastle such as the Royal Grammar School, Newcastlemarker


At the Census 2001 Northumberland registered a population of 307,190, estimated to be 309,237 in 2003. In 2001 there were 130,780 households, 10% of which were all retired, and one third were rented. Northumberland has a very low ethnic minority population at 0.985% of the population, compared to 9.1% for England as a whole. 81% of the population reported their religion as Christianity, 0.8% as another religion, and 12% as having no religion..

Being primarily rural with significant areas of upland, the population density of Northumberland is only 62 persons per square kilometre giving it the lowest population density in England.


Northumberland is a unitary local authority area and is the largest unitary area in England. The County Council is based in Morpethmarker.

Like most English shire counties Northumberland had until April 2009 a two-tier system of local government, with one county council and six districts, each with their own district council, responsible for different aspects of local government. These districts were, Blyth Valleymarker, Wansbeckmarker, Castle Morpethmarker, Tynedalemarker, Alnwickmarker and Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker. The districts were abolished on 1 April 2009, the county council becoming a unitary authority.

Elections for the new unitary authority council took place on 1 May 2008.

Northumberland is represented in the House of Commonsmarker by four Members of Parliament, of whom one is a Conservative, one is a Liberal Democrat and two are Labour.

Northumberland is included within the North East England European Parliament constituency which is represented by 4 Members of the European Parliament.


Northumberland has traditions not found elsewhere in Englandmarker. These include the rapper sword dance, the Clog dance and the Northumbrian smallpipe, a sweet chamber instrument, quite unlike the Scottish bagpipe. Northumberland also has its own tartan or check, sometimes referred to in Scotlandmarker as the Shepherd's Tartan. Traditional Northumberland music sounds similar to Lowland Scottishmarker music, reflecting the strong historical links between Northumbria and the Lowlands of Scotlandmarker.

The Border ballads of the region have been famous since late mediaeval times. Thomas Percy, whose celebrated Reliques of Ancient English Poetry appeared in 1765, states that most of the minstrels who sang the Border ballads in London and elsewhere in the 15th and 16th centuries belonged to the North. The activities of Sir Walter Scott and others in the 19th century gave the ballads an even wider popularity. William Morris considered them to be the greatest poems in the language, while Algernon Swinburne knew virtually all of them by heart.

One of the best-known is the stirring Chevy Chase, which tells of the Earl of Northumberland's vow to hunt for three days across the Border 'maugre the doughty Douglas'. Of it, the Elizabethan courtier, soldier and poet Sir Philip Sidney famously said: 'I never heard the old song of Percy and Douglas that I found not my heart moved more than with a trumpet'. Ben Jonson said that he would give all his works to have written Chevy Chase.

Overall the culture of Northumberland, as with the north east of England in general, has much in common with Scottishmarker Lowland culture than each has with the rest of their respective countries. Firstly both regions have their cultural origins in the old Anglian Kingdom of Northumbriamarker, this is borne out by the linguistic links between the two regions, which include many Old English words not found in other forms of Modern English, such as bairn for child (see Scots language and Northumbria).The other reason for the close cultural links is the clear pattern of net southward migration. There are more Scots in England than English people north of the border. Much of this movement is cross-county rather than distant migration, and the incomers thus bring aspects of their culture as well as reinforce shared cultural traits from both sides of the the Anglo-Scottish border.Whatever the case, the lands just north or south of the border have long had a common history due to their common Northumbrianmarker heritage and thus it is thought by many that the Anglo-Scottish border is largely political rather than cultural.

Attempts to raise the level of awareness of Northumberland culture have also started, with the formation of a Northumbrian Language Society to preserve the unique dialects (Pitmatic and other Northumbrianmarker dialects) of this region, as well as to promote home-grown talent.


Northumberland has its own flag, which is a banner of the arms of Northumberland County Council. The shield of arms is in turn based on the arms mediæval heralds had attributed to the Kingdom of Bernicia (which the first County Council used until it received a regular grant of arms). The Bernician arms were fictional but inspired by Bede's brief description of a flag used on the tomb of St Oswald in the 7th century.

The current arms were granted to the county council in 1951, and adopted as the flag of Northumberland in 1995.


Having no large population centres, the county's mainstream media outlets are served from nearby Tyne and Wear, including radio stations and television channels (such as BBC Look North, BBC Radio Newcastle, Tyne Tees Television and Metro Radio), along with the majority of daily newspapers covering the area (The Journal, Evening Chronicle). It is worth remembering however that whereas Northumberland, like many administrative areas in England, has been shorn of its geographical regional centre, that centre - Newcastle upon Tyne - remains an essential element within the entity we know as Northumberland. Newcastle's newspapers are as widely read in its Northumbrian hinterland as any of those of the wider county: the Northumberland Gazette, Morpeth Herald, Berwick Advertiser, Hexham Courant and the News Post Leader.

Lionheart FM, a community radio station based in Alnwickmarker, has recently been awarded a five-year community broadcasting license by OFCOMmarker. Radio Borders covers Berwick and the rural north of the county.


Famous people born in Northumberland

Ashingtonmarker was the birth place of the three famous footballers Bobby and Jack Charlton in 1937 and 1935 respectively; and Jackie Milburn previously in 1924. The basketballer Alan Hoyle was born here in 1983 whilst in 1978 Steve Harmison, an international cricketer was born here.

Mickleymarker was the birth place of Thomas Bewick, an artist, wood engraver and naturalist in 1753 and Bob Stokoe, a footballer, F.A. Cup winning manager in 1930

Other notable births include:

Famous people linked with Northumberland

  • Thomas Burt, one of the first working-class Members of Parliament and was secretary of the Northumberland Miners' Association in 1863

The site [9487] contains exhaustive detailed entries for famous deceased Northumbrians.



NOTE: New parishes have been added since 2001. These are missing from the list.

Parishes of Northumberland
Name Population (2001) Former district/borough
Acklingtonmarker 467 Alnwickmarker
Acombmarker 1,184 Tynedalemarker
Adderstone with Luckermarker 195 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker
Akeldmarker 82 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker
Allendalemarker 2,120 Tynedalemarker
Alnhammarker 99 Alnwickmarker
Alnmouthmarker 562 Alnwickmarker
Alnwickmarker 7,767 Alnwickmarker
Alwintonmarker 71 Alnwickmarker
Amblemarker 6,044 Alnwickmarker
Ancroftmarker 885 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker
Bamburghmarker 454 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker
Bardon Millmarker 364 Tynedalemarker
Bavingtonmarker 99 Tynedalemarker
Beadnellmarker 528 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker
Belfordmarker 1,055 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker
Belsaymarker 436 Castle Morpethmarker
Bewickmarker 69 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker
Biddlestonemarker 88 Alnwickmarker
Bowsdenmarker 157 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker
Branxtonmarker 121 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker
Brinkburnmarker 200 Alnwickmarker
Callalymarker 150 Alnwickmarker
Capheatonmarker 160 Castle Morpethmarker
Carhammarker 347 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker
Cartingtonmarker 97 Alnwickmarker
Chattonmarker 438 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker
Cornhill-on-Tweedmarker 318 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker
Crastermarker 342 Alnwickmarker
Cresswellmarker 237 Castle Morpethmarker
Denwick 266 Alnwickmarker
Doddingtonmarker 146 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker
Earlemarker 89 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker
Easington 139 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker
East Chevington 3,192 Castle Morpethmarker
Edlinghammarker 196 Alnwickmarker
Eglinghammarker 357 Alnwickmarker
Ellinghammarker 282 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker
Ellingtonmarker and Linton 2,678 Castle Morpethmarker
Elsdonmarker 205 Alnwickmarker
Embletonmarker 699 Alnwickmarker
Ewart 72 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker
Feltonmarker 958 Alnwickmarker
Fordmarker 487 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker
Glantonmarker 222 Alnwickmarker
Harbottlemarker 235 Alnwickmarker
Hartburnmarker 198 Castle Morpethmarker
Hauxley 220 Alnwickmarker
Hebron 679 Castle Morpethmarker
Heddon-on-the-Wallmarker 1,518 Castle Morpethmarker
Hedgeley 322 Alnwickmarker
Hepple 139 Alnwickmarker
Hepscottmarker 898 Castle Morpethmarker
Hesleyhurst 30 Alnwickmarker
Hollinghill 90 Alnwickmarker
Holy Islandmarker 162 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker
Horncliffemarker 374 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker
Ildertonmarker 94 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker
Ingrammarker 148 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker
Kilham 131 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker
Kirknewtonmarker 108 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker
Kyloemarker 323 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker
Lesburymarker 871 Alnwickmarker
Lilburnmarker 106 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker
Longframlingtonmarker 979 Alnwickmarker
Longhirst 446 Castle Morpethmarker
Longhorsleymarker 798 Castle Morpethmarker
Longhoughtonmarker 1,442 Alnwickmarker
Lowickmarker 559 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker
Lynemouthmarker 1,832 Castle Morpethmarker
Matfenmarker 495 Castle Morpethmarker
Meldonmarker 162 Castle Morpethmarker
Middletonmarker 136 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker
Milfieldmarker 243 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker
Mitfordmarker 431 Castle Morpethmarker
Morpethmarker 13,833 Castle Morpethmarker
Netherton 194 Alnwickmarker
Netherwittonmarker 272 Castle Morpethmarker
Newton-by-the-Seamarker 242 Alnwickmarker
Newton on the Moormarker and Swarlandmarker 822 Alnwickmarker
Norhammarker 536 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker
North Sunderlandmarker 1,803 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker
Nunnykirk 138 Alnwickmarker
Ord, Northumberlandmarker 1,365 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker
Pegswoodmarker 3,174 Castle Morpethmarker
Pontelandmarker 10,871 Castle Morpethmarker
Renningtonmarker 305 Alnwickmarker
Roddam 77 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker
Rothburymarker 1,740 Alnwickmarker
Rothleymarker 136 Alnwickmarker
Shilbottlemarker 1,349 Alnwickmarker
Shoreswood 163 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker
Snittermarker 114 Alnwickmarker
Stamfordhammarker 1,047 Castle Morpethmarker
Stanningtonmarker 1,219 Castle Morpethmarker
Thirston 510 Castle Morpethmarker
Throptonmarker 409 Alnwickmarker
Togston 340 Alnwickmarker
Tritlington and West Chevington 218 Castle Morpethmarker
Ulghammarker 365 Castle Morpethmarker
Wallington Demesne 361 Castle Morpethmarker
Warkworthmarker 1,493 Alnwickmarker
Whaltonmarker 427 Castle Morpethmarker
Whittinghammarker 406 Alnwickmarker
Whitton and Tosson 223 Alnwickmarker
Widdringtonmarker 158 Castle Morpethmarker
Widdrington Station and Stobswoodmarker 2,386 Castle Morpethmarker
Woolermarker 1,857 Berwick-upon-Tweedmarker

See also

External links

Notes and references

  3. Long, B. (1967). Castles of Northumberland. Newcastle, UK: Harold Hill.
  4. Northumberland National Park Authority, n.d. " The topology and climate of Northumberland National Park."
  5. Met Office, 2000. " Annual average temperature for the United Kingdom."
  6. Met Office, 2000. " Annual average rainfall for the United Kingdom."
  7. Met Office, 2000. " Annual average sunshine for the United Kingdom."
  8. Components may not sum to totals due to rounding
  9. includes hunting and forestry
  10. includes energy and construction
  11. includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured
  12. Northumberland County Council, 2003 "Northumberland in context.". MS Word, HTML (Google)
  13. Northumberland InfoNet, 2005. " Unemployment Statistics."
  14. Northumberland InfoNet, 2004. " Key Statistics: Businesses." (PDF)
  15. Northumberland InfoNet, 2004 " Key Statistics: Tourism." (PDF)
  16. Office for National Statistics, 2003. " Update on 2001 Census figures." (PDF)
  17. Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, 2003. " Local Government Finance Settlement 2005/06." (PDF)
  18. Office for National Statistics, 2001. " KS07 Religion: Census 2001, Key Statistics for local Authorities."
  21. Northumbrian Language Society
  23. Bede's Ecclesiatical History of the English People, Book III, Ch. 11: "And to furnish a lasting memorial of the royal saint, they hung the King's banner of purple and gold over his tomb."
  25. Office for National Statistics: Neighbourhood Statistics


Tomlinson, W. W. (1888). Comprehensive guide to the county of Northumberland (reprinted 1968). Trowbridge, UK: Redwood.Barbara Thompson, Jennifer Norderhaug (2006). "Walking the Northumberland Dales: Hadrian's Wall Country". Sigma Press. ISBN 1850588384, 9781850588382

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