Header Notice

Winter is here! Check out the winter wonderlands at these 5 amazing winter destinations in Montana

Exploring Historic Northumberland, England


by Cordey Pagel



Welcome to Northumberland, a region steeped in history and beauty. Located in the northeast of England, this captivating county is a treasure trove of historic landmarks, picturesque landscapes, and charming market towns. From ancient castles to Roman forts, Northumberland offers a rich tapestry of historical sites waiting to be explored.


As you venture through Northumberland, you will be transported back in time, immersing yourself in the stories of kings, knights, and battles. The county’s dramatic landscapes, with its rugged coastline and rolling hills, evoke a sense of awe and wonder.


Northumberland is renowned for its impressive collection of castles, each with its own unique story to tell. These magnificent structures stand as testament to the county’s turbulent and illustrious past. Explore the ancient walls of Alnwick Castle, which has stood since the Norman era, or marvel at the imposing fortress of Bamburgh Castle, perched on a dramatic outcrop overlooking the North Sea.


For history buffs, the famous Hadrian’s Wall awaits discovery. This remarkable Roman structure spans across the county, offering glimpses into the lives of the soldiers who once guarded its mighty walls. Explore the historic sites along the wall, such as Housesteads Roman Fort and Vindolanda, where you can witness ancient artifacts and gain insight into the Roman occupation of Britain.


Stepping into the town of Alnwick, you will be captivated by its history and charm. Visit Alnwick Castle, famously known as the filming location for Hogwarts School in the Harry Potter movies. The castle has stood for over 1,000 years and boasts stunning architecture and beautifully landscaped gardens.


A trip to Northumberland wouldn’t be complete without visiting Lindisfarne Priory, located on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. This ancient monastery, founded in the 7th century, is of great historical and religious significance. Experience the tranquility of the priory ruins and take in the breathtaking views of the North Sea.


Northumberland is also home to a number of well-preserved ancient Roman forts, such as Chesters Roman Fort and Housesteads Fort. These archaeological sites provide a fascinating glimpse into the daily life and military operations of the Romans in Britain.


For nature lovers, the Northumberland National Park offers stunning vistas and opportunities for outdoor adventures. Explore the Cheviot Hills, go hiking along the Hadrian’s Wall Path, or simply relax and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.


Lastly, immerse yourself in the charm of Northumberland’s historic market towns, such as Hexham, Morpeth, and Berwick-upon-Tweed. Wander through their bustling marketplaces, admire the architecture of their historic buildings, and discover unique local shops and eateries.


Northumberland truly is a captivating destination for history enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. With its wealth of historical sites, picturesque landscapes, and charming towns, this region will leave you awestruck and inspired. So, pack your bags and embark on a journey through time as you explore the historic wonders of Northumberland, England.


Historical Background

Northumberland has a fascinating and storied history that dates back thousands of years. The region has witnessed the rise and fall of civilizations, the reign of kings and queens, and the echoes of countless battles fought on its lands.


The earliest evidence of human settlement in Northumberland can be traced back to the Mesolithic period, over 10,000 years ago. These early inhabitants left behind artifacts and tools that give us a glimpse into their way of life. As the centuries passed, different groups of people, including the Celts and the Romans, left their mark on the region.


The Roman occupation of Britain in the 1st century AD had a significant impact on Northumberland. The construction of Hadrian’s Wall, which stretched across the county, marked the northernmost boundary of the Roman Empire. The wall was built to protect Roman Britain from the invasions of the Picts and other northern tribes. Today, Hadrian’s Wall stands as a testament to the engineering prowess and military might of the Romans.


After the fall of the Roman Empire, Northumberland became part of the Kingdom of Northumbria, one of the seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms that emerged in the wake of the Roman withdrawal. Northumbria flourished as a center of learning and culture, with the monasteries of Lindisfarne and Jarrow gaining prominence. The Lindisfarne Gospels, a masterpiece of illuminated manuscripts, were created in this period.


In the 11th century, Northumberland fell under the rule of the Normans after the Norman Conquest of England. The powerful Percy family, later known as the Earls of Northumberland, played a significant role in shaping the county’s history. They built impressive castles, including Alnwick Castle, which still stands today.


The turbulent borders between England and Scotland also shaped the history of Northumberland. The county faced numerous invasions and raids from Scottish forces throughout the centuries. The borderlands became a battleground for control, resulting in the construction of defensive fortifications like Norham Castle and Chillingham Castle.


During the Industrial Revolution, Northumberland played a crucial role in the growth of coal mining and shipbuilding industries. The county saw rapid industrialization, with towns like Newcastle upon Tyne becoming major centers of commerce.


Today, Northumberland preserves its rich history through the conservation and restoration of its historic landmarks. The region’s past continues to be celebrated and shared with visitors through museums, archaeological sites, and cultural events.


Castles in Northumberland

Northumberland is renowned for its stunning collection of castles, each steeped in history and offering a glimpse into the county’s medieval past. These magnificent structures stand as testaments to the power and wealth of the families who once resided within their walls.


Alnwick Castle, located in the town of Alnwick, is one of the most iconic castles in Northumberland. Built in the 11th century, it has been home to the powerful Percy family, the Earls and Dukes of Northumberland, for over 700 years. The castle’s majestic towers, battlements, and opulent interiors make it a truly impressive sight. Alnwick Castle gained further fame as the film location for Hogwarts School in the Harry Potter movies, attracting visitors from around the world.


Another notable castle in Northumberland is Bamburgh Castle. Perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking the North Sea, this formidable fortress has a history that dates back over 1,400 years. Bamburgh Castle was a stronghold of the ancient Kings of Northumbria and later became a residence of the Normans. Today, visitors can explore its ancient walls, admire its medieval architecture, and enjoy panoramic views of the coast.


Warkworth Castle, situated on the banks of the River Coquet, is another must-visit castle in Northumberland. This well-preserved medieval fortress offers a glimpse into the life of a noble family during the Middle Ages. Explore the grand halls, climb the towers for breathtaking views, and wander through the castle’s beautiful grounds.


Lindisfarne Castle, located on Holy Island, is a unique castle with a fascinating history. Originally a Tudor fort, it was transformed into a stately home in the early 20th century by the famous architect Edwin Lutyens. Lindisfarne Castle offers stunning views of the Northumberland coast and is a popular destination for art enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.


Chillingham Castle is known for its chilling tales and mysterious legends. This medieval fortress has a haunted reputation and attracts visitors interested in the paranormal. Take a tour of its eerie chambers and hear the stories of ghosts and apparitions that are said to roam the castle’s halls.


These are just a few examples of the magnificent castles that await you in Northumberland. Whether you are a history enthusiast, a fan of medieval architecture, or simply seeking an enchanting adventure, exploring the castles of Northumberland will transport you to a bygone era and leave you in awe of the county’s rich heritage.


Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian’s Wall, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the most iconic and significant historical landmarks in England. Built by the Romans in the 2nd century AD, it stretches for 73 miles across the Northumberland countryside, from the banks of the River Tyne to the Solway Firth.


The wall was constructed during the reign of Emperor Hadrian as a massive defensive fortification, marking the northernmost boundary of the Roman Empire. Its purpose was to control and monitor the movement of people and goods, as well as to defend against attacks from the northern tribes, particularly the Picts from the Scottish Highlands.


Walking along Hadrian’s Wall today, you can still see the remnants of this impressive structure. The wall was originally made of stone and stood up to 15 feet high. It was fortified by a series of forts and watchtowers known as milecastles and turrets, strategically spaced along its length.


Exploring Hadrian’s Wall allows you to step back in time and experience what life was like for the Roman soldiers stationed here. Visit sites like Housesteads Roman Fort and Vindolanda, where you can see the ruins of barracks, granaries, and command centers. Discover artifacts that offer insights into daily life on the wall, such as Roman coins, pottery, and even personal letters written on wooden tablets.


Hadrian’s Wall is not just a physical structure, but a symbol of the Roman Empire’s influence and dominance. It served as a boundary between the Roman world and the untamed wilderness to the north, marking the edge of a vast civilization and the beginning of the unknown.


Today, Hadrian’s Wall is a popular destination for hikers and history enthusiasts alike. The Hadrian’s Wall Path, a long-distance trail that runs alongside the wall, offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside as you journey through centuries of history.


Whether you choose to hike, cycle, or simply explore sections of the wall by car, Hadrian’s Wall is an awe-inspiring testament to the engineering and military prowess of the ancient Romans. As you walk in the footsteps of soldiers who once patrolled these fortifications, you can’t help but feel a sense of wonder and admiration for the enduring legacy of Hadrian’s Wall.


Historic Sites in Alnwick

The charming town of Alnwick in Northumberland is not only famous for its stunning castle but also boasts a wealth of other historic sites that are worth exploring. From medieval architecture to beautiful gardens, Alnwick offers a delightful journey through time.


At the heart of Alnwick lies Alnwick Castle, a magnificent fortress that has been home to the Percy family, the Earls and Dukes of Northumberland, for over 700 years. The castle’s impressive medieval architecture and opulent interiors make it a prominent landmark in the town. Step inside to explore the lavish State Rooms, stroll through the beautifully landscaped gardens, or partake in various activities and events held within the castle’s walls.


Adjacent to Alnwick Castle is the stunning Alnwick Garden, a carefully curated garden that spans across 12 acres. The garden features a variety of themed areas, including the enchanting Poison Garden, the tranquil Cherry Orchard, and the iconic Grand Cascade. Take a leisurely stroll through the garden’s intricate pathways, marvel at the vibrant blooms, and relax in one of the many secluded corners.


For those interested in local history, a visit to the Bailiffgate Museum is a must. This small but informative museum showcases the rich heritage of Alnwick and its surrounding area. Learn about the town’s history, from prehistoric times to the present day, through interactive exhibits and fascinating displays.


The historic Alnwick Abbey is another noteworthy site in the town. Now in ruins, this former monastery was founded in the 12th century and provides a glimpse into Alnwick’s religious heritage. Wander around the remnants of the abbey, admire the impressive architecture, and imagine the lives of the monks who once inhabited the site.


Alnwick also boasts a number of beautiful churches, such as St. Michael’s Church and St. Paul’s Church, both of which date back several centuries. These architectural gems offer a peaceful retreat where visitors can appreciate the intricate craftsmanship and experience the tranquility of these sacred spaces.


As you explore the historic sites in Alnwick, you’ll find yourself immersed in the town’s rich history and heritage. From its grand castle to its charming gardens and ancient ruins, Alnwick is a treasure trove of historical gems that will leave you with a deep appreciation for the town’s past and its cultural significance.


Bamburgh Castle

Perched on a rocky outcrop overlooking the vast expanse of the North Sea, Bamburgh Castle is a striking and imposing fortress that has been a symbol of power and strength for over a millennium. Located in the coastal village of Bamburgh, Northumberland, this magnificent castle is steeped in history and offers visitors a glimpse into the county’s medieval past.


Bamburgh Castle has a rich and fascinating history, dating back over 1,400 years. It was originally a stronghold of the ancient Kings of Northumbria, and evidence of their occupation can still be seen today. The castle’s position atop a natural defensive site made it an ideal location for fortifications, and subsequent rulers, such as the Normans, further expanded and fortified the castle.


As you approach Bamburgh Castle, you’ll be struck by its impressive architecture and the awe-inspiring views it commands. The castle’s massive walls, towers, and battlements evoke a sense of grandeur, taking you back to a time when castles were not only symbols of power but also integral to the defense of the realm.


Step inside the castle and explore its richly furnished rooms, which showcase the grandeur and opulence of its past inhabitants. The King’s Hall, with its magnificent fireplace and intricately carved ceiling, is a highlight not to be missed. As you wander through the castle’s chambers, you’ll discover a treasure trove of medieval artifacts, artworks, and historical displays that bring the castle’s history to life.


One of the most dramatic features of Bamburgh Castle is its stunning location. From its battlements, you can enjoy panoramic views of the rugged coastline, the vast sandy beaches, and the surrounding countryside. On a clear day, you can even catch a glimpse of the Farne Islands, renowned for their abundant birdlife and historic lighthouses.


Bamburgh Castle is not only a historic site, but it is also a living castle. It remains in private ownership and is still occupied by the Armstrong family, descendants of the industrialist and inventor Lord William Armstrong, who acquired the castle in the 19th century. This adds a personal touch and a sense of continuity to the castle’s history.


Visiting Bamburgh Castle is like stepping into a bygone era, where knights and ladies, kings and queens once walked its halls. Whether you are interested in medieval history, fascinated by castle architecture, or simply seeking breathtaking views, Bamburgh Castle is a must-visit destination that will leave you in awe of its timeless beauty and rich heritage.


Lindisfarne Priory

Located on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, off the Northumberland coast, Lindisfarne Priory is a place of profound historical and religious significance. This ancient monastery, founded in the 7th century, carries the legacy of early Christianity in Britain and offers visitors a chance to connect with the island’s spiritual past.


Lindisfarne Priory was established by Saint Aidan, an Irish monk, at the request of King Oswald of Northumbria. From its humble beginnings, the priory grew in prestige and influence, becoming a center for learning, religious instruction, and the spreading of Christianity throughout the region.


The priory gained prominence with the arrival of Saint Cuthbert, who served as a monk and later became the Bishop of Lindisfarne. Cuthbert’s body was interred in the priory, where it became a site of veneration and pilgrimage. The Lindisfarne Gospels, a masterpiece of illuminated manuscripts, were also created on the island during this time.


Visiting Lindisfarne Priory today allows you to observe the impressive ruins that still stand. While much of the priory was destroyed during Viking raids in the 9th century, the remains provide glimpses into its former glory. The exquisite arches, the remnants of the church, and the priory’s setting against the backdrop of the North Sea create a sense of tranquility and reverence.


Exploring the priory grounds allows you to imagine the lives of the monks who once inhabited this sacred place. The Prior’s House, which has been partially restored, provides insights into their daily routines and challenges. A visit to the priory museum further enhances the experience, as it displays artifacts and exhibits that shed light on the priory’s history and the lives of its inhabitants.


It is important to note that Lindisfarne is a tidal island, accessible by a causeway that is covered by the sea at high tide. As a result, planning your visit to Lindisfarne Priory requires attention to the tide times to ensure a safe crossing to and from the island.


Beyond its historical and religious significance, Lindisfarne Priory offers visitors breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. As you explore the ruins, take a moment to appreciate the striking beauty of the island, with its sweeping beaches, dunes, and salt marshes. The island’s natural environment is also a haven for birdwatching enthusiasts, with a wide variety of seabirds and migratory species found in the area.


Lindisfarne Priory is a unique site that captures the essence of early Christianity in Britain. Its tranquil setting, historical importance, and connection to the famous Lindisfarne Gospels make it a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts, spiritual seekers, and nature lovers alike.


Ancient Roman Forts

Northumberland, England, is home to a fascinating array of ancient Roman forts, each offering a glimpse into the region’s Roman past. These well-preserved archaeological sites provide a window into the military and cultural legacy of the Romans in Britain.


One of the most impressive Roman forts in Northumberland is Housesteads Roman Fort, also known as Vercovicium. Situated along Hadrian’s Wall, this fort offers a captivating insight into the daily life of Roman soldiers stationed on the northern frontier. Explore the barracks, granaries, and hospital, and marvel at the remains of the commanding officer’s house. A visit to the fort’s museum provides additional context and displays artifacts discovered on-site.


Another notable Roman fort is Chesters Roman Fort, located on the banks of the River Tyne. This fort, known as Cilurnum, served as a key strategic point along Hadrian’s Wall. Walk in the footsteps of Roman soldiers as you wander through the remains of the headquarters building, bathhouse, and officers’ quarters. The fort’s museum showcases an impressive collection of Roman artifacts, including beautifully preserved cavalry helmets and Roman altars.


Vindolanda, a unique archaeological site near Hadrian’s Wall, offers an intimate look into the lives of the Romans who lived and worked on the frontier. The site includes not only a fort but also a civilian settlement, providing a comprehensive view of Roman life in the region. Explore the excavations and discover well-preserved artifacts, such as wooden writing tablets that offer insights into everyday Roman life.


Corbridge Roman Town, located just south of Hadrian’s Wall, was a bustling center of trade and commerce during Roman times. This well-preserved archaeological site showcases the layout of a typical Roman town, with its main street, shops, houses, and temples. Wander through the remains of the granaries and marvel at the reconstructed fountain house. The site’s museum houses a collection of Roman artifacts found in and around the town.


These Roman forts and settlements offer a fascinating glimpse into the military, social, and economic aspects of Roman life in Northumberland. Exploring these sites allows you to step back in time and imagine the bustling activity and cultural exchange that occurred during the Roman occupation of Britain. The combination of historical significance and the incredible state of preservation makes Northumberland’s Roman forts a must-visit for history enthusiasts and anyone intrigued by the history of the Roman Empire.


Northumberland National Park

Northumberland National Park, situated in the spectacular Northumberland countryside, is a haven for nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers. Spanning over 400 square miles, this vast expanse of protected land offers diverse landscapes, rich wildlife, and a range of recreational activities.


The park is a landscape of contrasts, encompassing rolling moorland, deep valleys, rugged hills, and ancient woodlands. One of the main attractions within the park is the Cheviot Hills, a stunning range of rolling hills that form the border between England and Scotland. These hills provide ample opportunities for hiking, with trails leading to panoramic viewpoints and tranquil valleys.


For those seeking a challenge, the park is crisscrossed by the Hadrian’s Wall Path, a long-distance trail that follows the course of Hadrian’s Wall. Hiking along this path offers not only breathtaking views but also a chance to immerse yourself in the history of the region, with numerous Roman forts and archaeological sites along the way.


The Northumberland National Park boasts an abundance of wildlife, making it a haven for nature lovers. Look out for the iconic red squirrels that inhabit the woodlands, or keep an eye out for elusive otters along the rivers. The park is also home to a variety of bird species, including curlews, lapwings, and golden eagles. With its Dark Sky Park designation, it is an ideal spot for stargazing and observing the wonders of the night sky.


Outdoor activities abound in the park, catering to all levels of adventurers. Explore the park’s network of cycling routes, which take you through picturesque landscapes and remote villages. Try your hand at fishing in the park’s rivers and reservoirs, or indulge in the thrill of horseback riding along designated bridleways.


For history enthusiasts, the park offers a rich cultural heritage with ancient remains scattered throughout its landscape. From prehistoric hillforts to medieval bastle houses, the park is a testament to human settlement over thousands of years. Don’t miss the chance to visit the historic market town of Rothbury, known for its picturesque setting and traditional market square.


Northumberland National Park prides itself on its commitment to sustainable tourism and conservation. As you explore the park, you’ll find a range of visitor centers and educational facilities that provide information about the natural and cultural heritage of the area.


Whether you’re seeking adventure, tranquility, or a connection with nature, Northumberland National Park offers an unforgettable experience. Delve into its rugged landscapes, encounter its diverse wildlife, and let the beauty of this protected area leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.


Historic Market Towns

Northumberland is home to a collection of charming and historic market towns, each with its own unique character and stories to tell. These towns are steeped in history, with their origins dating back centuries, and offer a glimpse into the region’s vibrant past.


Hexham, nestled in the beautiful Tyne Valley, is one of Northumberland’s most well-preserved market towns. Its cobbled streets, medieval buildings, and charming market square exude a sense of traditional charm. Visit Hexham Abbey, a stunning 7th-century church that dominates the town’s skyline, and explore the bustling market, which has been held in the town for over 900 years.


Morpeth, located on the banks of the River Wansbeck, is another historic market town worth exploring. Wander through its picturesque streets lined with Georgian and Victorian architecture and discover unique boutiques, art galleries, and cozy cafes. Don’t miss the impressive ruins of Morpeth Castle, which overlook the town and offer panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.


Berwick-upon-Tweed, situated on the border between England and Scotland, has a tumultuous history shaped by its strategic location. This fortified town boasts well-preserved defensive walls and historic buildings, reflecting its importance as a border stronghold throughout the centuries. Explore its narrow alleyways, visit the Barracks Museum, and take a stroll along the town’s Elizabethan ramparts, offering stunning views of the River Tweed and the North Sea.


These market towns not only provide a glimpse into Northumberland’s past but also offer an opportunity to experience a vibrant community atmosphere. Visit on market days, where you can browse through stalls selling local produce, crafts, and antiques. Engage with friendly locals, sample delicious regional delicacies, and immerse yourself in the unique ambiance of these bustling marketplaces.


Each of these historic market towns also serves as a gateway to the surrounding countryside, allowing visitors to embark on scenic walks, cycling routes, and explore nearby attractions. Take the opportunity to discover the natural beauty of Northumberland while immersing yourself in the rich history and culture of these bustling towns.


As you wander through the market towns of Northumberland, you’ll feel a sense of connectedness to the past, a glimpse into the lives of those who came before. These towns are a testament to centuries of commerce, community, and cultural exchange, and are a true delight for history enthusiasts and those seeking an authentic Northumberland experience.



Northumberland, England, is a region brimming with historical wonders and natural beauty. From ancient castles and Roman forts to historic market towns and breathtaking landscapes, there is something to captivate every visitor. The county’s rich and diverse history, spanning thousands of years, is evident in its well-preserved landmarks and cultural heritage.


Exploring Northumberland allows you to step back in time and immerse yourself in the stories of kings, knights, and soldiers who shaped the region’s history. The magnificent castles, such as Alnwick Castle and Bamburgh Castle, transport you to the medieval era, while the ancient Roman forts along Hadrian’s Wall offer a glimpse into the Roman occupation of Britain.


The Northumberland National Park provides a tranquil retreat for nature lovers, with its rolling hills, picturesque valleys, and abundant wildlife. Walking along the stunning coastline, gazing out at the North Sea, or stargazing in the Dark Sky Park, you can’t help but be awestruck by the natural beauty that surrounds you.


The historic market towns of Hexham, Morpeth, and Berwick-upon-Tweed offer a blend of quaint charm and vibrant community spirit. Their bustling markets, historic architecture, and friendly locals provide a warm welcome to visitors, inviting them to experience the authentic Northumberland way of life.


As you conclude your journey through Northumberland, you’ll carry with you a deep appreciation for the region’s rich heritage and captivating landscapes. From the imposing castles to the rugged countryside, from the ancient ruins to the bustling town squares, Northumberland offers a truly unforgettable experience.


Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply seeking a unique destination to explore, Northumberland has it all. So, pack your bags, venture into this remarkable county, and embark on a journey of discovery, where the past and present converge in a celebration of Northumberland’s timeless beauty and remarkable history.