ceremonial county and unitary authority area in north east England, UK

Northumberland is the most northern county in England. Lindisfarne is an island close offshore. The county town is Morpeth. Its finest church is Hexham Abbey. Northumberland occupies a small part of the former Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria.

Flag of Northumberland
Coat of arms of Northumberland
Map showing Northumberland (ceremonial county)



Northumberland is where Roman occupiers once guarded a frontier at Hadrian's Wall. Anglian invaders fought with Celtic natives. Norman lords built castles to suppress rebellion and defend a contested border with Scotland.

The present-day county was once part of an independent Northern English kingdom that stretched from Edinburgh to the River Humber. Northumberland has more castles than any other county.[1] It has greatest number of recognized battle sites. It was an economically important region that supplied much of the coal that powered the industrial revolution. Northumberland is now a rural county with a small and gradually shrinking population.[2]

The kingdom of Northumbria under Edwin (585–632) stretched from the Humber in the south to the Firth of Forth in the north. The kingdom and county were named for the Humber.

The county is noted for its undeveloped landscape of high moorland. That is a favourite with landscape painters. Now it is largely protected as a National park. Northumberland is the most sparsely populated county in England, with only 62 people per square kilometre. This is mainly because the large cities of Newcastle upon Tyne and Tynemouth which were in Northumberland, were joined to Gateshead and Sunderland in the metropolitan county of Tyne and Wear.


  1. Long B. 1967. Castles of Northumberland. Newcastle: Harold Hill.
  2. Dowson J. 2009. Northumberland's economy 2009. Northumberland Information Network [1] Archived 2011-08-12 at the Wayback Machine