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David Ford, History EditorTours > Coquetdale

by David Nash Ford BA, Editor, History on Britannia

The beautiful River Coquet flows through the very heart of the historic county of Northumberland. From the high Cheviots, through the Simonside Hills and the Rothbury Forest, it winds its way amongst some stunning countryside, much of it within the Northumberland National Park. There are marvellous views along the deep valley from the surrounding roads and farmland and many ancient bridges from which to get a closer look at the bubbling waters. It is a wonderful course along which to see tight river bends which may some day form isolated ox-bow lakes.

Visiting such a delightful place in the Summer sunshine, it is difficult to imagine that the valley was once well known as a violent lawless place. In the medieval and Tudor periods, the Scots were frequent uninvited visitors. Whilst there were also more local troublemakers. The area was one of those famous for its warlike 'reivers' - family groups, not unlike the Scottish clans, whose blood feuds led to armed skirmishes, violent raids and murder.

Thus, personal protection was a major consideration for those living in Coquetdale and fortifications litter the valley from one end to another. Most are small private towers, others are more extensive castles: the homes of mighty lords and marcher wardens. The valley became central to the Middle March, an area designated by the King as a militarized zone between England and Scotland. But the beauty of Coquetdale also made it a place for contemplation. Monastic groups settled in the valley as early as Saxon times and individual holy men also made it their home.

A place of panoramic views, of hills and forests, an historic setting with castles, towers, hermitages and churches. Sounds like we need to take a look around . . .

First Stop: Makendon Camp

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