Hexhamshire and District (Northumberland)
Hexhamshire Low Quarter civil parish lies in south Northumberland, partly in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The parish stretches from Stublick Moor in the west to the valley of the Devil's Water in the east and is bound by the Dipton Burn along much of its northern edge. There are many small farmsteads and hamlets in the parish.
Archaeologists suspect that nearly 2000 years ago the Romans may have built a road from Whitley Castle to Corbridge that passed through the area now known as Hexhamshire Low Quarter. However, so far not enough information is known about it to confirm its exact route.
This now leaves a big gap in the history and archaeology of the parish until after the Norman Conquest in 1066. The liberty of Hexhamshire was created in the 11th century and, because it belonged to the church, was not involved in the creation of baronies in Northumberland at this time. Until the 1070s it was associated with Durham and later became the property of the archbishops at York, an association that continued until 1837. In medieval times, there were at least two villages in the parish, Dotland and Greenridge, and the priors of Hexham had a hunting lodge here.
In medieval and post-medieval times, the border region of England was a very unsettled and sometimes dangerous place to live. There were battles, skirmishes and raids taking place on both sides and in 1464, it is rumoured that Queen Margaret and Prince Edward hid in Queen's Cave after the Battle of Hexham. In the late 16th and early 17th centuries, as feuds between border families arose, some people built special defended farmhouses called bastles. Some of these buildings still stand in the parish, such as Newbiggin Hall Cottage, Barn Leenook and Ordley. At Steel another old building has some defensive characteristics but is not a true bastle. The hamlet of Ordley was even described as a large town in 1663.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, when more peaceful times returned to this part of the country, people began to build new houses, such as Newbiggin Hall, and convert the old bastles into less defensive homes. This was also a time of new building at local farms where, in response to new inventions and farming methods, planned farmsteads were built at Black Hall and Newbiggin. Roads were also built and improved, for example with new a bridge at Dipton Mill. Industries sprang up, such as coalmining at Stublick Hill Colliery and Low Stublick Colliery and there were two mills at Linnels.
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