Historic Musings

by Ella Blythe Dodds.  b.  11.11.1893.  d.  10.11.1979

Alnmouth: An ancient place. It has been remarked, “it has always been an ancient place”.

The unfinished stone axe found in 1852 in Charley’s Burn (The Hipsburn) belongs to the inhabitants of 6000 years ago, it is now in the museum at Alnwick Castle, Case E No 90 (or was at the time of writing).

Woodchester – Maclauchlin, the investigator into the Roman occupation, engaged for the purpose by Duke Algernon, states: undoubtedly the Romans used the harbour for the disembarkation of troops and the export of corn. This period lasted from 55bc – 426 ad. Further investigation will probably show that the Woodchester given to Lindisfarne by Ceolwulph, was this Alnmouth of ours under its Roman name.

Aetiwifordia – A century later, after the Romans had left our coast, we find the Saxons in occupation with King Ida building his castle in 547. A Saxon church had established a reputation as a place of holy ground, for we find in 705, when Eadulph was killed besieging Bamburgh Castle he was brought here for burial, the cross erected over his grave being found on the hill in July 1789.

A brilliant sight was when King Egfrid and his nobles, with the Bishop Trunwine and his following set sail from the Synod of the Church Hill to interview Cuthbert at his retreat on Lindisfarne, entreating him with tears to become their Bishop. Their pleading as not in vain, they returned to the Synod bringing Cuthbert with them, agreeable to their desires.

In 793 the armed ships of the Norsemen appeared off our coast, their shelter camp for the winter was under the lea of the Beacon or Fairy Hill, they left no name for their temporary dwelling place but a number of the words of their language are still on our tongue in Alnmouth today, a sample few – Bumla for Bee, siping for leaking, muck, grape, midden heck and hesp are others.

Like most border towns Alnmouth had its ups and downs, the town suffered destructive raids 1174 – right up to 1707, it was to give warning to the inhabitants that the beacon tower, known as St. Francis Tower, was erected on Beacon Hill and in the night fold fire pans were hung. So little value was property, that some considered the obligations they were under as burgesses to maintain the watch of the marches, as greater than the property was worth. It is on record that even Coquet Island was taken possession of by the Scots in 1644.

This is how the record runs: This town consists of near one hundred ancient burgages and the town almost depopulated but now the inhabitants begin to erect houses and granaries for corn to ship. – Town Survey 1727

Alnmouth Common

Commons are one of our ancient institutions, older by far than even Parliament or the Monarchy and are a legacy from the time when much of our land was wild and used “in common”.

There are 96 commons in Northumberland but there are more than 8500 in England and Wales; they cover a total area of more than 500.000 hectares.

In Alnmouth, the ancient common rights date from the 12th century and attach by law and title to some of the properties in the village, the owners of these properties are the Burgage Holders – today’s peasantry. Although the manorial system gave the commons legal owners, the peasantry kept their customary rights to share in the produce – grazing for their stock, wood for their fires etc.

The common is managed by a committee of Burgage Holders whose main aims are to safe guard and conserve the natural beauty of the common for future generations and to manage natural habitat for wild life, we welcome visitors to explore the main paths and tracks where you can enjoy watching the ever changing moods of the North Sea from strategically placed benches and picnic tables, or use our reasonably priced car park to leave your car and take the scenic walk to the village with it’s many amenities

map of the common

common map