Keys to the Past

Local History

Glanton (Northumberland)

View towards Glanton.
Photo by Harry Rowland.
View towards Glanton. Photo by Harry Rowland.

The small parish of Glanton lies in north Northumberland overlooking the valleys of the rivers Aln and Breamish. At its centre is a tall conical hill, called Glanton Hill, with the village nestled under the eastern slopes. It is not certain what the name Glanton means but 'Look-out Hill' and 'Hawk's clearing or hill' have been suggested. Archaeological remains in the parish date from the prehistoric period through to more recent times.

The earliest remains are from the Bronze Age. At least three different burial sites have been found in the parish. The first discovery was in the early 18th century when four cists were found, together with some pots, charcoal and bones. The other burials were found in the 19th century but only the pots survived. The Bronze Age is when the first metal tools were made, such as axes for felling trees and clearing undergrowth so that crops could be grown. Just such an axe was found near Glanton Westfield in the 18th century.

There are two sites that may date to the Iron Age or Roman period. Both are on Glanton Hill and were found by aerial photography. The photographs show cropmarks of an enclosure and what may be a small farm. The discovery of some querns, used for grinding grain, shows that crops must have been grown nearby. The Roman road called the Devil's Causeway also passes through the parish on its way northwards towards Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Although there was some settlement at Glanton in medieval times we have no clues about the size of the population. Many hamlets and villages are recorded in old documents and the name Glanton can be traced back to the 13th century. A village certainly stood here in the 17th century when the Hearth Tax of 1665 recorded 18 households. There may have been a boundary bank and ditch around the village in medieval times as some earthworks were found here in the 19th century.

The medieval and early post-medieval periods were an unsettled time in the borders of England and Scotland with battles, skirmishes and raids taking place. However, no defensive buildings seem to have been built at Glanton. History can fill in some of the gaps, as we know that 180 Royalist troops were taken prisoners here by the Roundheads in 1648.

As more peaceful times came to the Borders in the 17th and 18th centuries it was a fairly prosperous time for this region of England. People started to invest more in their surroundings, new roads were built and new farming methods were introduced. For example, a new country house was built at Glanton Pyke and planned farm buildings at South Farm. In the 18th and 19th centuries Glanton became an important stop on the coach road from London to Edinburgh. This brought such prosperity that much of the village was rebuilt in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and it served as a distribution centre for goods brought from Newcastle for over 50 years. In the 1930s it became the location of the first Bird Research Station in Britain. Today, Glanton is a quiet village by-passed by the main road to Coldstream and, most recently, has celebrated the millennium with a new avenue of oak trees leading from the A697 to the village.

Reference number:N13258

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Please note that this information has been compiled from a number of different sources. Durham County Council and Northumberland County Council can accept no responsibility for any inaccuracy contained therein. If you wish to use/copy any of the images, please ensure that you read the Copyright information provided.