Keys to the Past

Post Medieval Sites in County Durham and Northumberland

Reivers and Raiders

A number of remains associated with bad old days of the Reivers can still be seen in Northumberland.

Black Middens Bastle House

A stone, two-storey, fortified farmhouse, built during the sixteenth-century and set in splendid walking country on the Reivers Route.

For further information about visiting Black Middens Bastle House visit the English Heritage website.

Woodhouses Bastle

On the north side, just off the Grasslees to Holystone Road, lies the remains of Woodhouses Bastle. The building has been leased from the owners and restored from its roofless condition under the guidance of English Heritage. It is now in an excellent state of preservation with a winding staircase to the upper apartment , an arched vault in the basement and a stone spout above the doorway, possibly used for pouring molten lead on enemies.

Border History Museum

This museum is housed in the Old Gaol in Hexham, and contains information about Border Reiving in Tynedale and beyond. For further information about visiting this museum visit the Hexham Old Gaol website.

Berwick-upon-Tweed Ramparts

For further information about visiting Berwick-upon-Tweed ramparts visit the English Heritage website.

Post-Medieval and Industrial


Beamish Open Air Museum

Beamish, Britain's favourite open air museum, set in over 300 acres of beautiful countryside, vividly recreates life in the North of England in the early 1800s and 1900s. Winner of both the British Museum of the Year and European Museum of the Year Awards, it demonstrates the recent history of the region in a "living" way and provides entertainment and education for visitors of all ages and interests.

Killhope, the North of England Lead Mining Museum

A visit to Killhope Lead Mining Museum, is a unique and unforgettable experience. Killhope is a fully restored nineteenth century lead mine, where you experience for yourself the life and work of the lead mining families of the Pennine dales.

High House Chapel

is the world's oldest Methodist chapel still in continuous weekly use. for more information, please visit the Weardale Museum and High House Chapel website.

Newbiggin Chapel

Opened in 1760 and visited by John Wesley, Newbiggin Chapel is now the oldest Methodist chapel in continuous use in the world (occasional services - enquire for dates). Display on Primitive Methodists and lead mining.

Causey Arch

Causey Arch is the oldest surviving railway bridge in the world (built 1725-26), standing 80 feet (24metres) above a wooded gorge. It is the main feature of a picnic area with displays explaining the early waggonways and a replica of an 18th Century coal waggon. The Tanfield Railway runs between Sunniside, Causey Arch and East Tanfield.

Tanfield Railway

Tanfield Railway is the world's oldest existing railway, originally opened in 1725. Its three mile (4.75km) steam passenger railway between Sunniside, Marley Hill, Causey Arch and East Tanfield. Collection of 40 locos, Victorian carriages and vintage workshop at Britain's oldest engine shed, (built in 1854) at Marley Hill.

Locomotion the National Railway at Shildon

Locamotion is an £11 million project, funded through a variety of sources, and wasa joint venture between the former Sedgefield Borough Council, now Durham County Council, and the National Railway Museum at York. The development combines the refurbished buildings of the former Timothy Hackworth Museum and also bring back into use two further buildings of historical importance in Shildon's railway heritage. The museum's facilities also include a brand new collections centre (opened September 2004) which contains seven tracks and is capable of housing up to seventy vehicles. This exciting visitor attraction has been granted National status, and therefore has secured a free entry policy for at least three years from the museum's opening in September 2004. The NRM is the biggest railway museum in the world and gained the prestigious European Museum of the Year Award in 2001. Early railway structures include stables, coal drops and locomotive sheds. Occasional passenger rides along 400 yards (370 metres) of original 1825 Stockton and Darlington Railway track bed. Hackworth-built 1830s Beam Engine.

Head of Steam

Following a £1.7m refurbishment Darlington Railway Centre and Museum re-launched on 5th April 2008 with a new name and a new look and re-branded as "Head of Steam".

Tow Law Beehive Coke Ovens

These coke ovens at Tow Law are the remains of 19th century beehive coking ovens used to convert locally mined coal into coke for use by the railway and local steel industries.

Derwentcote Steel Furnace

Once at the centre of the British steel industry, 18th century Derwentcote Steel Furnace is the earliest and most complete authentic steel making furnace to have survived. For further information about visiting Derwentcote Steel Furnace visit the English Heritage website.


Allenheads Heritage Centre

Visit their website at Visit Northumberland for more information.

Berwick-upon-Tweed Barracks

The Berwick Barracks, among the first to be purpose-built, were begun in 1717 based on a sketch by the architect of Blenheim Palace, Nicolas Hawksmoor. Today, the Barracks host a number of attractions including By Beat of Drum, an exhibition on the life of the British infantryman.

For further information about visiting Berwick-upon-Tweed Barracks visit the English Heritage website.


The birthplace of Thomas Bewick (1753-1828), Northumberland's greatest artist, wood-engraver and naturalist. Cottage with farmyard, garden and play lawn. Also 19th-century farmhouse, the later home of the Bewick family, houses an exhibition on Bewick's life and work and small shop selling prints from his original wood engravings, books and gifts. Wood engraving, printing and bookbinding demonstrations in adjoining barn. Splendid views over the Tyne valley. The south bank of the River Tyne, where Bewick spent much of his childhood, is a short walk from the property.

For further information about visiting Cherryburn visit the National Trust website.

Cragside House, Gardens and Estate

Built on a bare and rugged hillside above Rothbury by the 1st Lord Armstrong, Cragside was one of the most modern and surprising houses for its time in the country. In the 1880s the house had hot and cold running water, central heating, fire alarms, telephones, a Turkish bath suite and a passenger lift, but most remarkable of all it was the first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity. No wonder it was described as 'the Palace of a Modern Magician'. Around and below the house is one of Europe's largest rock gardens; across the valley lies the terraced garden. Here exotic fruits were nurtured throughout the year in glasshouses, and still are today in the Orchard House. Seven million trees and bushes were planted to cover the bare hillside and create the 404ha (1000-acre) forest garden you can explore today.

For further information about visiting Cragside visit the National Trust website.

George Stephenson's Birthplace

A small stone tenement, built c.1760 to accommodate mining families. The furnishings reflect the year of Stephenson's birth here (1781), his whole family living in the one room.

For further information about visiting George Stephenson's Birthplace visit the National Trust website.

South Tynedale Railway

Visit their website at South Tynedale Railway


The Wallington estate was laid out in the 18th century by Sir Walter Blackett, helped by William Joyce, Thomas Wright and Lancelot 'Capability' Brown, who went to school in the estate village. Original formality underlies the 'natural' landscape in which walks offer a variety of lawns, shrubberies, lakes and woodland enlivened with buildings, sculpture and water features. In a sheltered valley beyond the China Pond is the beautiful walled garden with its collection of plants, and the abundant conservatory. Longer estate walks encompass wooded valleys and high moorland. This is Northumberland's Middle March, the land of the border reivers.

For further information about visiting Wallington visit the National Trust website.

Woodhorn Colliery

Visit their website at Woodhorn - Northumberland Museum, Archives and Country Park