UK Genealogy Archives logo
DISCLOSURE: This page may contain affiliate links, meaning when you click the links and make a purchase, we may receive a commission.

Norham, Northumberland

Historical Description

Norham, a village, a township, and a parish in Northumberland. The village stands on the river Tweed at the boundary with Scotland, and on the Tweedmouth and Kelso branch of the N.E.R., 6¾ miles SW of Tweedmonth, and 8 from Berwick-on-Tweed, occupies a low situation amid a luxuriant, many-featured, well-wooded landscape; was known in the Saxon times as Ubbanford; was the first place, or one of the first places, of Northumbria in which the Culdee missionaries preached; became the capital of Norhamshire and the site of the Bishop of Durham's exchequer and courts of justice; was long a market-town and had two annual fairs; consists now chiefly of one long street, with a green; and has a station on the railway, a post, money order, and telegraph office (R.S.O.), and a curious pyramidal cross, restored in 1877. A bridge, with stone abutments and strong timber body, was erected over the Tweed a little above the village in 1840, but was superseded by a stone bridge of four arches, opened in 1887; a pleasant walk lies along the river, and Norham Castle, now a massive ruin, surmounts a steep and partially wooded portion of the river's bank in the near vicinity. The castle was erected in 1121 by Bishop Flambard; is thought to have been raised on the site of some previous stronghold; was much modified and extended by numerous renovations and re-erections occasioned by the exigencies of war; appears to have at one time occupied a large extent of ground; comprises still a massive square keep, 70 feet high, though considerably shattered, and a number of fragments, vaults, and substructions, within a great circuit of outer wall; and, as seen from the river, presents a very picturesque appearance. David L of Scotland took and partially destroyed both it and the village in 1138. Bishop Pudsey enlarged the great keep in 1154. King John besieged the castle for forty days in 1215, when it was in possession of the Scotch, but was not able to take it. Edward I. resided in it while conducting the dispute respecting the succession to the Scottish crown; the contending armies of England and Scotland, in the course of their several wars, frequently took and re-took it; and James IV. of Scotland demolished its outworks immediately before he marched to Flodden. Bishop Matthew devised it to the Crown in 1603. Camden described it as " situated on the top of a high steep rock impending over the Tweed, fortified with a trench, the outer wall guarded by many turrets of vast compass; the wall towards the river much stronger, encompassing the keep or dungeon of prodigious height." Sir Walter Scott says respecting it in the opening verses of Marmion:-" Day set on Norham's castled steep, And Tweed's fair river broad and deep, And Cheviot's mountains lone; The battled towers, the donjon-keep, The loop-hole grates where captives weep, The flanking walls that round it sweep, In yellow lustre shone."

The township comprises 2282 acres of land and 61 of water; population, 873; of the ecclesiastical parish, 1808. The parish contains also the townships of Norham Mains, Thornton, Horncliffe, Loan End, Longridge, and Grindon. There is a parish council consisting of seven members. Some interesting features are noticed in the articles on the several townships. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Newcastle-on-Tyne; net value, £331 with residence. Patrons, the Dean and Chapter of Durham. The church stands on a picturesque spot at the W end of the village, succeeded a previous church of the Culdee times, is itself partly of Norman date, has a Norman arcade of five bays in the nave, is mostly Norman, was restored in 1846-52 and again in 1885, had formerly three chantries, was the burial-place of King Ceolwulf, had anciently the privilege of thirty-seven days' sanctuary, and contains ar. ancient canopied effigies of a knight, and an effigies by Lough of the Eev. Dr Gilly, author of the " History of the Waldenses" and other works, who was vicar and died in 1857. There are Primitive Methodist, Free Church Presbyterian, and United Presbyterian chapels, an endowed school, and a public hall erected in 1889. Dr Carleton, the biographer of Bernard Gilpin, was a native.

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 parishNorham St. Cuthbert 
Poor Law unionBerwick-upon-Tweed 

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

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Norham from the following:

Land and Property

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


Online maps of Norham 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 districtTD15
Post TownBerwick-Upon-Tweed