Rothbury is a town and civil parish in Northumberland, England. It is located on the River Coquet, 13.5 miles (21.7 km) northwest of Morpeth and 26 miles (42 km) north-northwest of Newcastle upon Tyne. At the time of the UK census of 2001, Rothbury had a population of 1,740, increasing to 2,107 at the 2011 UK census.
Rothbury was an ancient parish in the Coquetdale Ward which also became a civil parish in the 19th century. From 1894 until 1896 it was part of Rothbury Rural District. From 1896 until 1955 it was an urban district, and then returned to being a civil parish within the rural district again. In 1974 rural districts were abolished and Rothbury became part of the Alnwick District until 2009 when Northumberland became a unitary authority.
Townships in the parish
Rothbury emerged as a relatively important town in the historic district of Coquetdale because of its situation at a crossroads over a ford along the River Coquet. Turnpike roads leading to Newcastle upon Tyne, Alnwick, Hexham and Morpeth allowed for an influx of families and the enlargement of the settlement during the Middle Ages. Rothbury was chartered as a market town in 1291, and became a centre for dealing in cattle and wool for the surrounding villages well into the 15th to 18th centuries.
It was chartered as a market town in 1291, and became a centre for dealing in cattle and wool for the surrounding villages. A market cross was erected in 1722, but demolished in 1827. In the 1760s the village also had a small craft industry, including hatters. At that time, the village's vicarage and living was in the gift of the Bishop of Carlisle, and worth £500 per year.
Rothbury has had a turbulent and bloody history. In the 15th and 16th centuries the Coquet Valley was a pillaging ground for bands of Reivers who attacked and burned the town with terrifying frequency. Near the town's All Saints' Parish Church stands the doorway and site of the 17th century Three Half Moons Inn, where the Earl of Derwentwater stayed with his followers in 1715 prior to marching into a heavy defeat at the Battle of Preston.
Hill farming has been a mainstay of the local economy for many generations. Names such as Armstrong, Charleton and Robson remain well represented in the farming community. Their forebears, members of the reiver 'clans', were in constant conflict with their Scots counterpart. The many fortified farms, known as bastle houses, are reminders of troubled times which lasted until the unification of the kingdoms of England and Scotland in 1603.
The industrialist Lord Armstrong (1810–1900) helped shape modern Rothbury. Many local buildings reflect his Victorian style and prosperity. At the same time the planting of more than six million trees and shrubs transformed the surrounding landscape. His magnificent home at Cragside, now in the care of the National Trust, is visited by more than 150,000 people annually.
A Vision of Britain through Time furthers the description of Rothbury from John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales of 1870-72: