|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Lord Lieutenant||Jane Percy, Duchess of Northumberland|
|High Sheriff||Thomas Fairfax of Mindrum  (2020–21)|
|Area||5,013 km2 (1,936 sq mi)|
|• Ranked||6th of 48|
|Population (mid-2019 est.)||320,274|
|• Ranked||44th of 48|
|Density||64/km2 (170/sq mi)|
|Ethnicity||95.4% White British|
|Council||Northumberland County Council|
|Executive||Conservative (council NOC)|
|Area||5,014 km2 (1,936 sq mi)|
|• Ranked||1st of 326|
|• Ranked||34th of 326|
|Density||64/km2 (170/sq mi)|
|Members of Parliament||List of MPs|
|Time zone||Greenwich Mean Time (UTC)|
|• Summer (DST)||British Summer Time (UTC+1)|
Northumberland (//) is a unitary authority and historic county in North East England. The northernmost county of England, the unitary authority borders Cumbria to the west, County Durham and Tyne and Wear to the south and the Scottish Borders to the north. To the east is the North Sea coastline with a path 103 kilometres (64 mi) long. The county town is Alnwick, although the county council is based in Morpeth.
The county of Northumberland included Newcastle upon Tyne until 1400, when the city became a county of itself. Northumberland expanded greatly in the Tudor period, annexing Berwick-upon-Tweed in 1482, Tynedale in 1495, Tynemouth in 1536, Redesdale around 1542 and Hexhamshire in 1572. Islandshire, Bedlingtonshire and Norhamshire were incorporated into Northumberland in 1844. Tynemouth and other settlements in North Tyneside were transferred to Tyne and Wear in 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972.
Lying on the Anglo-Scottish border, Northumberland has been the site of a number of battles. The county is noted for its undeveloped landscape of high moorland, now largely protected as the Northumberland National Park. Northumberland is the least densely populated county in England, with only 62 people per square kilometre.
Northumberland originally meant 'the land of the people living north of the Humber'. The present county is the core of that former land, and has long been a frontier zone between England and Scotland. During Roman occupation of Britain, most of the present county lay north of Hadrian's Wall. It was controlled by Rome only for the brief period of its extension of power north to the Antonine Wall. The Roman road Dere Street crosses the county from Corbridge over high moorland west of the Cheviot Hills into present Scotland to Trimontium (Melrose). As evidence of its border position through medieval times, Northumberland has more castles than any other county in England, including those at Alnwick, Bamburgh, Dunstanburgh, Newcastle and Warkworth.
Northumberland has a rich prehistory with many instances of rock art, hillforts such as Yeavering Bell, and stone circles such as the Goatstones and Duddo Five Stones. Most of the area was occupied by the Brythonic-Celtic Votadini people, with another large tribe, the Brigantes, to the south.
Later, the region of present-day Northumberland formed the core of the Anglian kingdom of Bernicia (from about 547), which united with Deira (south of the River Tees) to form the kingdom of Northumbria in the 7th century. The historical boundaries of Northumbria under King Edwin (reigned 616–633) stretched from the Humber in the south to the Forth in the north. After the battle of Nechtansmere its influence north of the Tweed began to decline as the Picts gradually reclaimed the land previously invaded by the Saxon kingdom. In 1018 its northern part, the region between the Tweed and the Forth (including Lothian that contains present-day Edinburgh), was ceded to the Kingdom of Scotland.
Northumberland is often called the "cradle of Christianity" in England because Christianity flourished on Lindisfarne—a tidal island north of Bamburgh, also called Holy Island—after King Oswald of Northumbria (reigned 634–642) invited monks from Iona to come to convert the English. A monastery at Lindisfarne was the centre of production of the Lindisfarne Gospels (around 700). It became the home of St Cuthbert (about 634–687, abbot from about 665), who is buried in Durham Cathedral.
The Earldom of Northumberland was briefly held by the Scottish royal family by marriage between 1139–1157 and 1215–1217. Scotland relinquished all claims to the region as part of the Treaty of York (1237). The Earls of Northumberland once wielded significant power in English affairs because, as powerful and militaristic Marcher Lords, they had the task of protecting England from Scottish retaliation for English invasions.
Northumberland has a history of revolt and rebellion against the government, as seen in the Rising of the North (1569–1570) against Elizabeth I of England. These revolts were usually led by the Earls of Northumberland, the Percy family. Shakespeare makes one of the Percys, the dashing Harry Hotspur (1364–1403), the hero of his Henry IV, Part 1. The Percys were often aided in conflict by other powerful Northern families, such as the Nevilles and the Patchetts. The latter were stripped of all power and titles by the victorious Parliamentarians after the English Civil War of 1642–1651.
After the Restoration of 1660, the county was a centre for Roman Catholicism in England, as well as a focus of Jacobite support. Northumberland was long a 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 and VI in 1603.
Northumberland played a key role in the Industrial Revolution from the 18th century on. Many coal mines operated in Northumberland until the widespread closures in the 1970s and 1980s. Collieries operated at Ashington, Bedlington, Blyth, Choppington, Netherton, Ellington and Pegswood. The region's coalfields fuelled industrial expansion in other areas of Britain, 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 before the deindustrialisation of the 1980s.
Northumberland remains largely rural, and is the least-densely populated county in England. In recent years the county has had considerable growth in tourism. Visitors are attracted both to its scenic beauty and its historical sites.
Nearly 2000-year-old Roman boxing gloves were uncovered at Vindolanda in 2017 by the Vidolanda Trust experts led by Dr Andrew Birley. According to the Guardian, being similar in style and function to the full-hand modern boxing gloves, these two gloves found at Vindolanda look like leather bands date back to 120 AD. It is suggested that, based on their difference from gladiator gloves, warriors using this type of gloves had no purpose to kill each other, and that the gloves probably were used in a sport for promoting fighting skills. The gloves are currently displayed at Vindolanda's museum.
Northumberland has a diverse physical geography. It is low and flat near the North Sea coast and increasingly mountainous toward the northwest. 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. However, the county lies on the east coast, and has relatively low rainfall, with the highest amounts falling on the high land in the west.
Approximately a quarter of the county is protected as the Northumberland National Park, an area of outstanding landscape that has largely been protected from development and agriculture. The park stretches south from the Scottish border and includes Hadrian's Wall. Most of the park is over 240 metres (790 feet) above sea level. The Northumberland Coast is also a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). A small part of the North Pennines AONB is also in the county.
The Cheviot Hills, in the northwest of the county, consist mainly of resistant Devonian granite and andesite lava. A second area of igneous rock underlies the Whin Sill (on which Hadrian's Wall runs), an intrusion of Carboniferous dolerite. Both ridges support a rather bare moorland landscape. Either side of the Whin Sill the county lies on Carboniferous Limestone, giving some areas of karst landscape. Lying off the coast of Northumberland are the Farne Islands, another dolerite outcrop, famous for their bird life.
There are coalfields 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.
There is a variety of notable habitats and species in Northumberland including: Chillingham Cattle herd; Holy Island; Farne Islands; and Staple Island. Moreover, 50% of England's red squirrel population lives in the Kielder Water and Forest Park along with a large variety of other species including roe deer and wildfowl.
Northumberland's green belt is in the south of the county, surrounding Cramlington and other communities along the county border, to afford a protection from the Tyneside conurbation. The belt continues west along the border, past Darras Hall, and on to Hexham, stopping before Haydon Bridge. Its border there is shared with the North Pennines AONB. There are also some separated belt areas, for example to the east of Morpeth. The green belt was first drawn up in the 1950s.
Tourism is a major source of employment and income in Northumberland. In the early 2000s the county annually received 1.1 million British visitors and 50,000 foreign tourists, who spent a total of £162 million.
Coal mining in the county goes back to Tudor times. Coal mines continue to operate today; many of them are open-cast mines. Planning approval was given in January 2014 for an open-cast mine at Halton Lea Gate near Lambley, Northumberland.
Pharmaceutical, healthcare and emerging medical biotechnology companies form a very significant part of the county's economy. Many of these companies are part of the approximately 11,000-worker Northeast of England Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC) and include Aesica Pharmaceuticals, Arcinova, MSD, Piramal Healthcare, Procter & Gamble, Shire Plc (formerly SCM Pharma), Shasun Pharma Solutions, Specials Laboratory, and Thermo Fisher Scientific. The cluster also includes Cambridge Bioresearch, GlaxoSmithKline, Fujifilm Dyosynth Biotech, Leica Bio, Data Trial, High Force Research, Non-Linear Dynamics, and Immuno Diagnostic Systems (IDS). The towns of Alnwick, Cramlington, Morpeth, Prudhoe all have significant pharmaceutical factories and laboratories.
Newcastle University and Northumbria University are the leading academic institutions nearby. The local industry includes commercial or academic activity in pre-clinical research and development, clinical research and development, pilot-scale manufacturing, full-scale active pharmaceutical ingredient/intermediate manufacturing, formulation, packaging, and distribution.
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: instead of having two secondary schools in one town, one school became a middle school and another became an upper school. A 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. One response to these changes has been the decision of Ponteland High School to apply for Trust status.
Cramlington Learning Village has almost 400 pupils in each school year, making it one of the largest schools in England. The Blyth Academy in southeast Northumberland can hold 1,500 students throughout the building. Astley Community High School in Seaton Delaval, which accepts students from Seaton Delaval, 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 Academy in Bedlington, which is attended by students from all over the area. Students from Northumberland also attend independent schools such as the Royal Grammar School in Newcastle.
In 2001 there were 130,780 households, 10% of which were all retired, and one third were rented. Northumberland has an ethnic minority population at 0.985% of the population, compared to 9.1% for England as a whole. In the 2001 census, 81% of the population reported their religion as Christianity, 0.8% as "other 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.
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 Valley, Wansbeck, Castle Morpeth, Tynedale, Alnwick and Berwick-upon-Tweed. The districts were abolished on 1 April 2009, the county council becoming a unitary authority.
Elections for the new unitary authority council first took place on 1 May 2008. The County Council elections in 2017 returned the following results:
|County Council Election 2017: Northumberland|
|Overall Council seats as of 2017|
|33 (12)||24 (8)||7 (4)||3 (8)||0 ()||0 ()||47|
Northumberland is represented by four UK Parliamentary constituencies: Berwick-upon-Tweed, Blyth Valley, Wansbeck and Hexham. The 2017 General Election produced the following results:
|General Election 2017 : Northumberland|
|Overall numbers of seats as of 2017|
On 23 June 2016, Northumberland took part in the UK-wide referendum on the UK's membership of the EU. In Northumberland a majority voted to Leave the European Union.
|EU Referendum 2016 : Northumberland|
Northumberland has traditions not found elsewhere in England. 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 Scotland as the Shepherd's Tartan. Traditional Northumberland music has more similarity to Lowland Scottish and Irish music than it does to that of other parts of England, reflecting the strong historical links between Northumbria and the Lowlands of Scotland, and the large Irish population on Tyneside.
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 Charles 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 more in common with Scottish Lowland culture than with that of Southern England. One reason is that both regions have their cultural origins in the old Anglian Kingdom of Northumbria, a fact borne out by the linguistic links between the two regions. These include many Old English words not found in other forms of Modern English, such as bairn for child (see Scots language and Northumbrian dialect). 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 Anglo-Scottish border.
Whatever the case, the lands just north or south of the border have long shared certain aspects of history and heritage; it is thus thought by some 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 Northumbrian 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 medieval heralds had attributed to the Kingdom of Bernicia (which the first County Council used until was granted its own 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 although 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 Radio, a community radio station based in Alnwick, has recently been awarded a five-year community broadcasting licence by Ofcom. Radio Borders covers Berwick and the rural north of the county.
Ashington was the birthplace of three famous footballers: Bobby and Jack Charlton, born in 1937 and 1935 respectively, and Jackie Milburn, born in 1924. In 1978 the international cricketer Steve Harmison was born here.
Other notable births include:
The site  contains exhaustive detailed entries for notable deceased Northumbrians.
NOTE: New parishes have been added since 2001. These are missing from the list.
|Name||Population (2001)||Former district/borough|
|Adderstone with Lucker||195||Berwick-upon-Tweed|
|East Chevington||3,192||Castle Morpeth|
|Ellington and Linton||2,678||Castle Morpeth|
|Newton on the Moor and Swarland||822||Alnwick|
|Tritlington and West Chevington||218||Castle Morpeth|
|Wallington Demesne||361||Castle Morpeth|
|Whitton and Tosson||223||Alnwick|
|Widdrington Station and Stobswood||2,386||Castle Morpeth|
Although not on this list, the population of Cramlington is estimated at 39,000.
Some settlements that is part historic county of Northumberland now fall under the county of Tyne and Wear:
|Tyne and Wear||Killingworth, Longbenton, Newcastle upon Tyne, North Shields, Tynemouth, Wallsend, Whitley Bay|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Northumberland.|