Northumberland to the Romans it was Ad Fines, the limit of the
Empire, the end of the Roman World. It was here in 122 AD that the
Emperor Hadrian decided to build a wall stretching from
coast-to-coast to provide protection, to show the might of the
Empire, and as a statement of his grandeur. Visitors to
Northumberland can walk the Wall visiting milecastles, Roman
frontier forts and settlements such as Housesteads (where you can
see the oldest toilets you ll ever see) or Vindolanda (where you
can take part in an archaeological dig) where wooden tablets
detailing life on this frontier (the oldest example of written
language in Britain) were discovered, or the remains of Roman
temples and shrines (such as the Mithraeum at Carrawburgh). After
the Romans left, Northumberland became the heart of one of the
greatest kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon Britain, Northumbria. The home of
Saints, scholars and warrior kings. Visitors can see the ancient
seat of this kingdom at the medieval Bamburgh Castle, visit Hexham
Abbey (built in 674 AD), or tour the magnificent remains of the 7th
century Priory at Tynemouth (where three kings are buried Oswin (d.
651), Osred (d. 790), and the Scottish King Malcolm III (d. 1093).
No other county in Britain has as many medieval remains as
Northumberland. From the most grand such as Alnwick Castle (known
as the Windsor of the North, the home of the Dukes of
Northumberland, the capital of Northumberland, and, to many,
Hogwarts!) to humble remains such as the Chantry at Morpeth. At
Warkworth visitors can tour the medieval church (scene of a 12th
century Scottish massacre), Warkworth Castle (another Percy
possession and the setting for a scene in Shakespeare s Henry IV),
a medieval hermitage, and the fortified bridge gatehouse (one of
the only surviving examples in Britain). Northumberland was ravaged
during the Anglo-Scottish Wars and this led to the development of
family clans of Border Reivers who were active during the 16th and
early 17th centuries. Raiders, looters, blackmailers and courageous
cavalrymen the Reivers have left many surviving remnants of their
harsh time. Peel Towers dot the landscape alongside Bastle Houses.
The active can even walk in the footsteps of the Reivers by
following the Reivers Way long distance path. Victorian
Northumberland was dominated by both farming and, increasingly, by
the industrial genius of some of its entrepreneurs. The greatest of
these, Lord Armstrong (known as the Magician of the North), has
left behind one of the most magnificent tourist sites in Britain;
his home at Cragside. Carved from a bare hillside and transplanted
with millions of trees and shrubs and crowned with the beautiful
Cragside House visitors can walk the grounds taking advantage of
various trails and spotting wildlife such as red squirrels before
visiting the first house in the world to be lit by electricity!
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