Kirknewton lies about 6 miles (10 km) from the town of Wooler and roughly the same distance to the Scottish Borders. The village lies in the valley Glendale, which takes its name from the River Glen, whose source at the confluence of the Bowmont Water and the College Burn lies at the west end of the village.
The parish of Kirknewton is one of the geographically largest in the United Kingdom, but one of the smallest in terms of poulation, with a count of 108 residents (56 female, 52 male) in the 2001 UK Census. Most residents live in the villages of Kirknewton, Westnewton and Hethpool, with the remainder scattered in remote farms and steadings, many of which are now holiday properties.
Employment in Kirknewton is mainly based around agriculture, although following decline in this industry, most residents either work in the local towns of Wooler or Berwick-upon-Tweed or are retired. The area has a reasonable tourist industry due to the Northumberland National Park which borders the village, and the area's outstanding natural beauty.
The village of Kirknewton used to be a station on the Alnwick to Cornhill railway, run by LNER. This branchline carried passengers and goods until the 50's, when it became uneconomical to run due to dwindling passenger numbers, a competing bus service, and a number of storms which had destroyed parts of the line. The station itself and the station master's house still stand and are used as private residences.
Kirknewton School originally stood near the church and catered for 4-11 year old boys and girls. Opened in the late 19th century, the school was supported by the church and it was in operation until 2004 when despite fierce campaigning over the years by parents, the school eventually closed because of dwindling pupil numbers. The school building still serves young people as an outdoor centre for the Girl Guides.
The church of St Gregory the Great is situated in the middle of the village. Parts of the church date back to Norman times, and it is famous for a carving of the Adoration of the Magi. The carving, on the wall of one of the oldest parts of the church, depicts the Magi in kilts! However, Christianity has been worshipped here long before this. In the 5th Century, Saint Paulinus baptised Anglo-Saxon King Edwin of Northumbria and many of his followers in the River Glen at Gefrin, nearby. A monument, known as the Gefrin Stone is erected at this location. The churchyard of St Gregory is also the final resting place of Josephine Butler, a well known Victorian social reformer.
,Josephine Butler (nee Grey), one of Northumberland's most notable daughters, was born at Milfield Hill, about six miles from Wooler. She dedicated her life to combating the social evils of the day. At the end of her long life she returned to her beloved Northumberland and is buried in Kirknewton churchyard.