Whittingham, Northumberland, England
Whittingham parish lies in mid-Northumberland and stretches from the
vale of the River Aln to the heights of Thrunton Crags.
The oldest remains in the parish are Neolithic and include a flint
arrowhead as well as some of the mysterious cup and ring marked
stones from Mountain Farm and Mile Farm. The carved stones were
discovered in Bronze Age burials and may have held some significance
for a long period of time. Such burials might have contained a
cremation or inhumation with grave goods, and may have been covered
by a barrow or cairn.
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A round barrow excavated near Whittingham revealed some pottery, but
little else is known about this site and other burial have been
found in Thrunton Woods. Other Bronze Age objects have been found in
a hoard of weaponry on Thrunton Farm; this may have been a religious
deposit as it was found in a patch of marsh had been arranged in a
Two Roman roads pass through the parish: the Devil’s Causeway and a
linking road to Dere Street. No settlements or military sites have
been found in the parish although Low Learchild Roman fort lies just
outside the parish.
In the early medieval period there was probably a settlement in
Whittingham as the remains of an Anglo-Saxon church can be seen be
seen in the fabric of the Church of Saint Bartholomew. Although much
of the early church was destroyed in the 19th century, some early
quoins in the tower, nave and aisles can be seen. The place-name
‘Whittingham’ itself has the elements –ham and –ing, which are
thought to indicate early Anglian settlements.
In the medieval period there were villages and hamlets at Thrunton,
Eslington, Whittingham and Barton. Traces of the medieval field
system still survive as ridge and furrow earthworks at Barton.
During the wars between England and Scotland defences were built
against Scottish raiders. These took the form of tower houses at
Eslington and Whittingham together with a vicar’s pele at
Whittingham. Some of the boundaries established in medieval times
are still visible today, especially on the upland areas of Callaly
Moor where a series of boundary stones stand.
Changes in agriculture took place throughout the post-medieval
period. These led to changes in settlement and wealth. Eslington
Park is an example of such an improved landscape and is laid out
around a country house, also called Eslington Park. The poor of
parish were catered for when Whittingham Tower was turned into
almshouses in the 19th century. Transport was also improved with the
first Morpeth to Wooler turnpike travelling through Whittingham from
the 1780s, much of which is still followed by the A697 today. The
North Eastern Railway also came to Whittingham with the Alnwick to
Cornhill line with a fine station at the Bridge of Aln.
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