England page 2-13

England's Border Country

Northumbria with its peaceful dales, dramatic hills and golden beaches, Northumbria has some of the finest natural scenery in Britain. A region which is distinguished by its castles,country houses and early Christian and Roman sites.

Northumbria was once an ancient kingdom, but now comprises four areas: Durham, Tyne & Wear, Northumberlandand the Tees Valley. Each has its own unique identity, making Northumbria one of the most diverse regions in England.

Due to Northumbria's position next to Scotland, it was well fortified by many castles. Some of them have fallen into ruin, and it is only their remains that can still be explored. One of these is Dunstanburgh Castle, still looking impressive on the coast. Other castles have been continuously updated by the residents.

Alnwick Castle was originally a Norman fortress, and was inherited by the Percy family the Dukes of Northumberland. in 1309. The Percys always used the best; Robert Adam refurbished the inside of the house in the 18th century, and Capability Brown was responsible for the layout of the grounds. The castle also contains paintings by Titian, Canaletto, and Van Dyck.

There are many others Castles in the area including Durham Castle, Raby Castle, Barnard Castle, Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens.

The 60 mile Northumberland coast has long, clean sandy beaches punctuated by magnificent castles, pretty fishing villages and the historic Holy Island of Lindisfarne.

Tyne and Wear

This metropolitan area which includes the two cities of Newcastle upon Tyne and Sunderland and their surrounding areas.

Newcastle is a vibrant, exciting city, with widely acclaimed museums and galleries,

Sunderland, bisected by the River Wear, has a rich heritage, the earliest example of this being the 7th century Saxon church of St Peter.

Next to the Scottish border, this land was fought over for centuries - the nationality of Berwick upon Tweed was fought over and changed hands between the Scots and English several times. Twelve miles away from Berwick on the coast is Holy Island, or Lindisfarne, the site of a medieval monastery. If you are going to Holy Island make sure and check the tides, as the island is cut off from the mainland for several hours a day.

The variety of the countryside here is remarkable. There are the uplands of Northumberland National Park, the heather clad hills of the North Pennines, the forests and lakes of Kielder and the Heritage coast in the east;

Hadrian's Wall

Designated a World Heritage Site, this is one of the most important Roman monuments in Britain. It was originally built just under 2,000 years ago by the Emperor Hadrian in order to mark the northern boundary of his Empire.

Stretching 73 miles from coast to coast,there are many sites along the wall worth exploring. Housesteads Fort is probably the best preserved site, where you can see the remains of a commanding officer's house and a hospital.

Tees Valley

This area includes the major towns of Middlesbrough, Stockton, Darlington, and Hartlepool,the seaside resorts of Redcar and Saltburn and the historic market town of Guisborough.

The Tees Valley is a remarkable blend of unspoilt natural beauty, friendly market towns,dynamic urban centres and historic coastline. It also has a renowned maritime and railway heritage; George Stephenson's Locomotion made its first run from Darlington and can now be seen in the Darlington Railway Centre and Museum. In Middlesbrough is the place where Captain Cook was born. It is now the Captain Cook Birthplace Museum and tells the story of his life and work.

County Durham

Known as the Land of the Prince Bishops this area is a superb mixture of rich heritage and unspoilt landscape. The Durham Dales are part of the North Pennines which offer some of the country's finest scenery with rugged upland, gentle river valleys, meadows and drystone walls.

The city of Durham is dominated by the 900-year old castle and cathedral, which have both been designated as World Heritage Sites. History is brought alive at Beamish, the North of England Open Air Museum, where staff in period costume invite visitors to experience life in an 1800s and early 1900s village.


Three centuries of warfare between the English and Scots have left this most northerly corner of England scattered with castles and fortified houses.
The Landscape

To the west, the Simonside and Cheviot hills form a spectacular backdrop to remote towns and villages. The eastern flank is bounded by the beaches, dunes and dramatic cliffscapes of the Heritage Coast.

Hadrian's Roman Wall

Northumberland's border history has left many legacies. The most famous is Hadrian's Wall which once stretched from coast to coast, and its four main Roman forts at Housesteads, Vindolanda, Chesters and Corbridge.

Majestic Castles

There many historic castles in Northumbia include those at Alnwick, Bamburgh, Lindisfarne and Chillingham. Dramatic ruins include those at Dunstanburgh, Warkworth and Etal.


Ashington in the south eastern corner of Northumberland. Although once known for its dependence on coal, today little remains of the industry.
Woodhorn Colliery Museum a fascinating museum in original colliery buildings at Woodhorn Colliery illustrates the old way of life and culture of the area through models, pictures and machines.
Woodhorn Church

The church at Woodhorn is said to be the oldest on the Northumbrian coast.


Bedlington is best known for its links with the small Bedlington Terrier, and also played an important part in the pioneering days of railways.

County Durham
Land of Prince Bishops

County Durham rich in fascinating heritage and outstanding scenery. Explore historic Durham City, the unspoilt scenery of the Durham Dales and Beamish.

Durham City

Durham City, with its World Heritage Site of Durham Cathedral,and castles is one of the most exciting visual and architectural'

Barnard, Durham, Auckland and Raby Castles are impressive reminders of the turbulent past, when the Prince Bishops of Durham ruled like Kings.

The Durham Dales

The Durham Dales are part of the North Pennines, one of England's largest Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty with waterfalls, river valleys and wildflower meadows.

Famous people and connections

George Washington

One of the ancestral homes of George Washington is located in Washington, five miles from Sunderland. The house, known as Old Hall, is filled with memorabilia of the first president of the USA.

Catherine Cookson

Born in South Shields, Catherine Cookson has also based many of her novels in the area where she grew up. Westoe Village was the setting for many of her books, including the first, Katie Mulholland. The South Shields Museum has a Catherine Cookson Gallery, which includes a reconstruction of her birthplace, 10 William Black Street.

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens found inspiration for several of his novels while visiting Northumbria. It was when staying at the King's Head in Barnard Castle,that he investigated disreputable boarding schools, and it is believed that he based 'Dotheboys Hall' in Nicholas Nickleby on a school in Bowes.

The Venerable Bede

Born in 673, Bede made his home at Jarrow monastery, where he is remembered by history as writing amongst other works the Historia Ecclesiastica, in which he charted the ecclesiastical history of the English people.Bede's World, near to the site of the monastery where Bede lived, not only explores Bede's life and work, but also life in early medieval Northumbria. There is also an Anglo-Saxon farm,which has been built and is farmed using only the methods which would have been used in Bede's time.