Keys to the Past

Local History

Kyloe (Northumberland)

The garden walls at Berrington House showing the gable end of what may be an earlier manor house. Photo by Peter Ryder.
The garden walls at Berrington House showing the gable end of what may be an earlier manor house. Photo by Peter Ryder.

Kyloe parish lies on the coast of north Northumberland overlooking Holy Island. It rises from the shore westward to the Kyloe Hills. Here, there are rocky crags where Iron Age settlers built their homes. Elsewhere, there is a mix of arable farming and forestry plantations.

The earliest remains are some Neolithic stone axes, found in the upland and lowland parts of the parish near West Kyloe and at Fenham. These axes may have been used to fell trees, perhaps to clear land for the first fields or for use in building. There might be a symbolic aspect to a group of tools from Kyloe Crags as no settlement is known in the area and a general preference for lowland areas is seen elsewhere in the county.

The oldest burial in the parish is a Bronze Age cist from Kyloe whinstone quarry. Inside the cist was a jet necklace and pottery and other pots found nearby suggest this may have the site of a cemetery. No Bronze Age settlements have been found here.

The earliest settlements date to the Iron Age and most are on high ground. Fenhamhill in the east of the parish stands on a high point overlooking much of the low-lying coastal strip. Other settlements stand on crags or steep slopes in the west of the parish such as Kyloe Camp, Kyloe Crags settlement, overlooking the Lickar Burn, Buckton Moor North camp and Buckton Moor South camp.

Near Bowden is a series of cropmarks which may be a Roman period farmstead. Some of the Iron Age settlements may also have continued in use into the Roman period as life probably changed little at this time. The Devil's Causeway Roman road cuts through the parish but no military camps have been found in this area.

Although lying next to Holy Island and the site of a pre-Conquest monastery, no early medieval remains have been found in Kyloe. Berrington uses the 'ing element, which is believed to be Old English and it is possible that Anglians might have settled here.

The influence of Lindisfarne Priory in the medieval period is better known. Kyloe, on the mainland end of the Holy Island causeway was the site of a grange at Fenham. There was also a watermill at Fenham Mill and a possible windmill near Fenwick, probably operated by the lay brothers of the monastery. There were also villages and hamlets at Berrington, Kyloe, Low Lynn and Beal. Traces of medieval fields of ridge and furrow can be seen at some of these settlements, such as Berrington, Fenwick Stead and Kyloe Cottage. Defence of the agriculturally rich areas was a necessity in medieval times. Tower houses were built at Buckton, Kyloe and Berrington and a small moated site may have stood at Fenwick Stead. A Norman church once stood in Kyloe, but was replaced in the 18th century.

The post-medieval period was one of change. Agricultural developments in the 18th and 19th centuries saw new farms built at Beal and Fenwick Steads. During the Agricultural Revolution granaries were built, such as West Kyloe, supplying Berwick and further down the coast by sea transport. However, not all voyages were successful and the remains of two ships lie in the sands at Beal and near Crag End.

Industries mainly developed in the upland parts of the parish where rocks and seams of coal could be exploited. The Newcastle to Berwick railway passes through the parish and a branch line was planned to go to Holy Island, carrying passengers and limestone. However, the collapse of the lime industry on the island meant the project fell through.

In the 20th century, the coastline was protected during World War II (1939-45) with a series of pillboxes at Beal Point and Beal.

Reference number:N13836

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Disclaimer -

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.