Keys to the Past

Local History

Lowick (Northumberland)

St Cuthbert's Cave (Copyright © Don Brownlow)
St Cuthbert's Cave (Copyright © Don Brownlow)

Lowick parish lies in north Northumberland, west of the Kyloe Hills.

The earliest remains are Mesolithic and come from the upland part of the parish. The high sandstones are well known for caves and rock shelters and Shiellow Crags in Lowick has revealed flint and chert artefact scatters and knapping waste. Such scatters are the only signs of temporary occupation here, perhaps during a hunting trip, and would have been a good vantage point and a recognisable landmark.

A Neolithic stone axe has been found near Lowick and suggests that trees were being felled here, perhaps to create early fields or for building. Although no Neolithic settlements have been found there is evidence of a more mysterious and ritual nature. A cup and ring marked stone at Lowick Low Steads was found in a Bronze Age burial and, although not in its original position, was probably still of some significance. Other Bronze Age discoveries have been made, including a burial and a bronze axe.

Iron Age remains are few and are limited to two cropmarks seen on aerial photographs. A possible hillfort lies near Lowick High Stead and a possible promontory fort overlooks the Hetton Burn. The hillfort may have continued in use into the Roman period. Farmsteads were also established in new places in the Roman period with enclosures near the Hetton Burn, Lowick Low Steads and Laverocklaw. The Devil's Causeway Roman road passes through the parish, on its way from Low Learchild fort north towards Berwick, but no military sites or Roman finds have been discovered in the parish.

In the early medieval period tradition holds that, in the seventh century, St Cuthbert used a cave here as a hermitage. The discovery of a small knife somewhere around Lowick suggests a small cemetery, although no associated settlement has been found.

In the medieval period, people lived in villages and hamlets at Barmoor, Holburn and Lowick. Two castles have stood in the parish, at Lowick Low Steads and Barmoor Castle, and smaller tower houses were built at Holburn and Lowick Tower. They were built to withstand attacks during the wars with Scotland.

More peaceful times came in the post-medieval period when many changes took place in Lowick. Improvements were made in agriculture and industry throughout the parish. Several villages dwindled in size and became deserted at this time, such as Barmoor. New planned farms were built, reflecting innovations of the Agricultural Revolution, at Lowick Northfield. Granaries were built to store grain on farms near Holburn Mill. Mills stood at Holburn, Barmoor and Lowick and there is also a corn-drying kiln at Holburn Mill to prevent damp diseases setting in.

Industries developed around the natural resources of the parish, such as limestone and coal. Limestone was quarried and converted to lime in lime kilns at Barmoor Moss, Eelwell Quarry and Lowick Acres Quarry Kiln, for use in agriculture locally and for export to Scotland. Old coal workings north of Lowick village worked the Scremerston coal seams, probably in the 18th or 19th century. Holburn Colliery had a windmill to lift water from the mine.

Reference number:N13837

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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.