Northumberland National Park may not be as well known as the Lake District or Snowdonia, but it boasts a lot of natural and historic beauty, with 10,000 years worth of history uncovered in various monuments, buildings and archeological sites. Hadrian’s Wall may be the most famous structure found in the National Park, but there are also scenic medieval ruins and fortified farm buildings that are definitely worth exploring.
Here are 6 of the best historic sites in Northumberland National Park.
1. Hadrian’s Wall
Hadrian’s Wall is a magnificent remnant of Roman Britain and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At the time of its completion, Hadrian’s Wall would have been between 13 and 15 feet high, made of stone and turf and would have stretched east to west from the River Tyne to the Solway Firth.
Large sections of Hadrian’s Wall remain intact in northern England. These are connected with various Roman monuments, forts and other ruins. There are several ways to visit all of these sections and sites, notably as part of the National Trail, which is a signposted walk.
2. Brocolitia Roman Temple
This small Roman temple was dedicated to the favourite God of ancient soldiers – Mithras. Unsurprisingly the ruins are close Hadrian’s Wall.
The site also contains the remains of a once sacred well which had connections to the Celtic water goddess Coventina. The original altars are kept in The Great North Museum in Newcastle upon Tyne, while the ones in the ruins are replicas.
3. Woodhouses Bastle
This fortified farmhouse was used as a place of shelter during enemy raids that came over the Scottish border. The lower walls are half a metre thick, providing decent protection, while the upper parts of the building were used as living quarters.
The 17th century building was not only used to house people, but valuable livestock as well. Between 1500 and 1700, over a thousand of these buildings were constructed in the Borders.
4. Black Middens Bastle House
The Black Middens Bastle House is very similar to Woodhouses Bastle. This 16th century building was the home of a well-to-do farming family. The wealthiest peasants could afford to build pele towers, which are similar to bastle houses but taller.
The Black Middens Bastle House was probably occupied until the 20th century when the building lost its roof in the 1970s.
5. Harbottle Castle
This ruined castle is located at the west end of the village of Harbottle. It was constructed in the 12th century by the Umfraville family at the request of King Henry II. Being close to the Scottish border the fortification was regularly under siege throughout its long history.
In 1605 King James I & VI granted the castle to George Home, 1st Earl of Dunbar, though it would soon fell into decay. 400 years of neglect have left us with only earthworks and some standing masonry remains.
6. Thirlwall Castle
The haunting ruins of this castle were constructed in the 1330s by John Thirlwall. The fortification was the seat for the family for the next 300 years, providing protection in a region that was notorious for conflict. The structure was built with materials taken from Hadrian’s Wall.
Following the union between England and Scotland the castle became redundant and fell into disrepair in the 18th century. The ruins attracted artists and poets in the following centuries, becoming an iconic landmark.