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Elsdon, Northumberland

Historical Description

Elsdon, a village, a township, and a parish in Northumberland. The village stands on an affluent of the river Reed, 6 miles from Woodburn railway station, and 9¼ SW of Roth-bury, and has a post office under Otterburn (R.S.O.); money order and telegraph office, Otterburn. Its site is supposed to have been a Roman station, probably the first of a chain of forts between Watling Street and the Devil's Causeway; and the Mote Hills, which are remarkable mounds, defended by deep moats shaped by the old Celtic inhabitants of the district, at a short distance to the NE, are supposed to have been occupied by the Romans as a post of observation and place of sepulture. The township includes the village, and bears the name of Elsdon Ward. Acreage, 6490; population, 192. The parish includes also the townships of Monk-ridge Ward, Otterburn Ward, Troughend Ward, and Wood-side Ward, and the district chapelry of Byrness. Population, with Otterburn, 736. The area is about 25 miles in length and 12 in. greatest breadth; comprises a long vale flanked by heathy hills; seems to have once been almost entirely covered with forest, some small remnants of which still exist in the vale; was formerly little else than a desolate series of neglected heaths and morasses; but now exhibits cheering effects of extensive reclamation, enclosing, and improvement. Limestone and ironstone of superior quality abound, and some good seams of coal exist. Elsdon Castle is supposed to have been built in the time of Henry III. by David, king of Scotland, presents on its front the arms of the Umfravilles, is a strong tower with circular staircase at one comer, was once the residence of the Abb½ Dntens, the editor of Leibnitz, and is now the parsonage house. The living is a vicarage, united with Otterburn, in the diocese of Newcastle; net value, £525 with residence (Elsdon Castle). Patron, the Duke of Northumberland, who is lord of the manor. The church is ancient, cruciform, and good, and at a clearing away of earth at its north transept some years ago, remains of upwards of one hundred human skeletons were found there regularly deposited in double rows, and are supposed to have been some of the men killed at the battle of Otterburn. The church was repaired in 1836, and thoroughly restored in 1877. Tradition speaks of a Danish giant of the name of Ella who lived on the Mote Hills near Elsdon and committed great devastations.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyNorthumberland 
Ecclesiastical parishElsdon St. Cuthbert 
Poor Law unionBellingham 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Elsdon from the following:

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Northumberland is available to browse.


Online maps of Elsdon are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following newspapers related to Northumberland online:

RegionNorth East
Postal districtNE19
Post TownNewcastle Upon Tyne