Keys to the Past

Local History

Warden (Northumberland)

Hadrian's Wall at Black Carts. Photo by Northumberland County Council.
Hadrian's Wall at Black Carts. Photo by Northumberland County Council.

Warden is a small parish in the Tyne valley in south Northumberland. The rivers North and South Tyne form two of its boundaries and combine at its southern tip to form the River Tyne.

The earliest remains in the parish are Mesolithic flints found on the haughs above the River South Tyne at High Warden; people were no doubt attracted by the wildlife potential of the area.

Neolithic remains are also present with a cup marked rock from a clearance cairn at Homer's Lane and a possible long mound close to Warden village.

No Bronze Age monuments have been found in Warden, but a possible hoard of two bronze spearheads was found in the 19th century.

The oldest settlement in the parish is Warden Hill hillfort, overlooking the confluence of the rivers. It may have been used in the Roman period as well but quarrying has disturbed the remains.

The early Roman road known as the Stanegate crosses the parish, although its exact course is unknown. Probably built in the first century AD, it ran between forts at Carlisle and Corbridge Red House. In the second century AD Hadrian's Wall was built across the country and forms the northern edge of the parish at Walwick Fell and Limestone Bank. The Wall itself lies beneath the B6318 road but the vallum and north ditch survive in places as earthworks. Just south of the Wall is a temporary camp on Walwick Fell and beyond that is a native settlement. What contact there might have been might have been between the Roman military and the native people is unknown.

An early medieval settlement may have stood at Warden as the Church of St Michael has an Anglo-Saxon tower and is traditionally held as the site of an oratory used by St John of Beverley when he was Bishop of Hexham (685-704).

In the medieval period a motte was built at Warden overlooking the confluence of the rivers. People lived in villages at Fourstones and Warden, the latter belonging to Hexham Abbey only a few miles away. They farmed on cultivation terraces at High Warden and fish bred in fishponds near Walwick Grange were probably destined for a high status table. The wars between England and Scotland at this time were probably the prompt for a tower house to be built at Walwick Grange.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, farming and industry developed in the parish. New farms were built at Park Shield and Fourstones, reflecting the improvements heralded by the Agricultural Revolution. New methods of improving the soil were introduced through the use of lime and several lime kilns operated in the parish at East Frankham, Fourstones, Walwick Park and Towertie. A paper mill operated at Fourstones and, in the 19th century, Prudhamstone Quarry was established, supplying sandstone for buildings in Newcastle. The spur for much of the industrial development was the Newcastle to Carlisle railway along the South Tyne valley.

Reference number:N13840

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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.