Wooler and Glendale

Gateway to the Cheviot Hills



Historical Information

Because of its siuation on the edge of the Northumberland National Park, by the Cheviot Hills, Wooler is a popular base for walkers and is referred to as the "Gateway to the Cheviots". As well as many shops and pubs, and four churches, the town boasts a youth hostel, many hotels and campsites. It lies on the St. Cuthbert's Way long distance trail between Melrose Abbey and Lindisfarne.

There is much evidence of settlements throughout the area dating back to pre Bronze Age times and most hilltops have some sort of hill fortification. The Roman period seems on the face of it to have had little impact on the area. Given Wooler's position almost midway between Hadrian's Wall and the Antonine Wall in Scotland it seems safe to assume that the area was at least visited by Roman troops from time to time.

Up to the beginning of 12th century Northumberland was ruled by a succession of earls first, Anglo-Saxon, then Danish and eventually Norman. There is no reference to Wooler in the Domesday Book (1086) due to the area still not being totally under the William the Conqueror's control. Wooler was probably no more than a hamlet prior to the creation of the 1st baron Muschamp of Wooler (1107) when it was described as "situated in an ill-cultivated country under the influence of vast mountains, from whence it is subject to impetuous rains". Prosperity and expansion led to the granting in 1199 of a licence to hold a market every Thursday. That licence was used probably without variation until well into the 18th century.

The tower fortifications which had been built were gone by about 1250 and there is no other record of fortification until the 16th century. A hospital, St Mary Magdalene, is documented as being set up circa 1288. On the invasion route of English and Scottish armies and situated so close to the border Wooler viewed many great events of history. The battles at Humbledon Hill (Homildon) in 1402 and Flodden in 1513 although great in historic terms had perhaps less effect than the Scottish raids of 1340 & 1409 which caused great destruction. Wooler was garrisoned at various times by both nations.

The 'reivers' or border raider were a fact of life in the border marches for several centuries as evidenced by the numbers of Peel Towers and fortified farm houses through out the borders. The names of the many of the great reiver families live on in today's Wooler population today.

Fire has damaged Wooler on several occasions during it's long history. One on 24 Jan 1693 caused damage of £2950 to 54 habitations. Further substantial destruction happened in 1721 (or 22) and in February 1863 a very destructive blaze led to the Wooler we know today. In the !9th and 20th the population of Wooler's population rose fell and then rose again although even today the permanent population at just under 2000 is little more than it was in 1830.