NORTHUMBERLAND AND DURHAM
I. THE BORDER
 THE two northern counties of Northumberland and Durham
are alike in many points. They are both marked by hill
and dale, both are rich in coal and lead, and both have
many busy ports on their eastern coast. They have,
also, much of their history in common, for
Northumberland is a border county, and Durham has
shared with it in the fortunes of war.
The title of "border county" has no meaning for us
now; because, for nearly three centuries, Scotland has
had the same sovereign as England. But before that
time, if you had been a borderer, that is, had lived in
a border county on either side of the Cheviots, you
might, any night, have had your cattle and growing
crops carried off, and your house burnt over your head.
Three of our kings, the first three Edwards, carried on
a long war with Scotland, which they hoped to conquer
and add to the English crown. They did not succeed;
but, during the two hundred years which followed the
attempt, this war led to constant feuds between the
In the first place, Scotland was never sure that some
other English king would not covet the Scottish crown.
 Therefore, she always tried to secure France as her
friend, so that if the English king should invade
Scotland, France would come to her aid. The
consequence of this alliance was, that Scotland had in
return to fight for France against England, and this
led to frequent wars between the two countries.
In the second place, the great border families, English
and Scotch, learned to hate one another, and were
always seeking cause for quarrels. And as the Scotch
Douglases and the English Percies, Earls of
Northumberland, were both great barons, with many
noble friends and many thousands of followers, a
quarrel between the two families might at any time lead
to a general war.
Thus, while our Edward III. was fighting his French
battles, David of Scotland thought he could help France
by marching down into England, and, possibly,
conquering the country in the king's absence. He
marched through Northumberland and Cumberland, burning
and slaying as he went. But everybody was not at the
wars. The brave Queen Philippa and the lords Percy and
Neville, helped by three or four bishops, raised the
north-country folk; a battle was fought on some hills
close by the city of Durham; the Scots were beaten, and
their king taken prisoner. A beautiful cross, named
after the Lord Neville, was built on the spot in memory
of the fight, which has since been known as the battle
of Neville's Cross.
Three places in Northumberland became famous in these
early "border" wars, Otterburn, in the pleasant
valley of the Rede; Humbledown Hill, in the bleak moors
to the north; and Flodden Field, near the Cheviot
Hills. In 1388 the battle of Otterburn, or
 "Chevy Chase," was fought, in which the Earl Percy was
killed, whose death was avenged twenty years after at
"This fight did last from break of day
Till setting of the sun,
For when they rung the evening bell,
The battle scarce was done.
"Of fifteen hundred Englishmen,
Went home but fifty-three;
The rest in Chevy Chase were slam,
Under the greenwood tree."
Another far more terrible border fight took place upon
Flodden Field, near the Cheviots.
It was in the reign of the eighth king Henry (1513);
England was at war with France; and James of Scotland,
in order to help his French allies, gathered all the
best men of his kingdom, in number 50,000, crossed the
Tweed, and laid waste Northumberland all about the
The king of England sent a much smaller army against
him under the Earl of Surrey. The armies met at
Flodden, and the fight lasted until it grew too dark
for the men to see one another. Nobody knew that night
on which side the victory lay; but the sun rose on a
day of heavy mourning for Scotland. The "Flowers of the
Forest," the bravest and noblest of her sons, lay by
hundreds dead upon the field; and, amongst the rest,
was the king, so mangled that his friends failed to
recognise the body.
It is indeed a good thing for both countries that
 Scotland and England are now united under one crown.
Even in the earliest days of English history, when thİ
Romans ruled, the Picts, that is the savage tribes who
inhabited Scotland, were constantly breaking over the
border. Agricola, the Roman general who completed the
conquest of Britain, built eighteen forts, or towers,
between the Solway Firth and the Tyne, so that the
Roman soldiers who manned them might keep these
barbarians back. A later emperor, Hadrian, built a
stone wall nearly in the same place,—a great wall,
parts of which are still to be seen, a hundred miles
long, and nearly wide enough for a carriage road on the
The border land, this "debatable land," where the
"rank reivers and moss troopers" used to "gallop over
moss and moorland, is now marked by the richest
meadows, the fairest fields. The tract which used to
lie between the two countries—a blasted and desolate
region, ravaged with fire and sword, drenched with
blood, and peopled only with horrible memories—is now
turned into a garden. Large corn farms extend up to the
very ridges of the Cheviots."
There is still a pine wood on Flodden Ridge where King
James and his brave Scots rested before the fatal
battle; but the field of "red Flodden," itself, is
marked off by hedges, its heather has given place to
corn, and there is little in the aspect of the country
to remind us
"Of the stem strife and carnage drear
Of Flodden's fatal field."
II. THE DALES AND VALES
 NORTHUMBERLAND and Durham are both mountainous in the
west. The Cheviot Hills are in Northumberland, and
divide it from Scotland. These are a range of moorland
hills, cold and bare, except for peat and heather and
the short turf of the lower hills, which feeds the
nimble Cheviot sheep. Here and there, rather high,
pointed peaks rise above the rest, such as Cheviot Top,
Carter Fell, and Peel Fell.
The hills of Durham are the Pennines, the great central
moorland chain, which begins at the Cheviots, ends at
the Peak in Derbyshire, and divides the rivers that
flow east from those flowing west in all the northern
counties; in other words, these mountains form the
watershed of this part of England.
These hills, too, are high, wild moorlands, with deep
bogs, patches of heather, and great crags scattered
about, where scarcely any plant taller than the
low-growing mountain bilberry is to be seen. Sheep and
even cows feed on the short grass of the lower slopes.
The most desolate part of this moorland country is
where the four counties of Northumberland, Cumberland,
Durham, and Yorkshire almost join. Here—at Coaleleugh,
the highest village in England; at Allendale,
Allenhead, and other villages in Northumberland ; at
St. John's, in the Dale of the Wear; and at Middleton
and Eggleston, in that of Tees—the steady, kindly
lead-miners have their homes. This is /the great
lead-mining country, where veins of lead ore run, often
at a great depth, in the mountain limestone.
 These western mountains send out spurs towards the
east—three or four in Northumberland, two great spurs
in Durham—which look as if the land swelled up into
high ridges or waves of rugged moorland, leaving deep
valleys between them. The moors get higher and more
barren towards the west; they are generally let out to
farmers for sheep pastures, and are divided into
patches by rough stone walls.
Towards the west, where the mountains are high, there
are beautiful dales between the spurs, like those in
Yorkshire; dales, where mountain streams roar over
stony beds, and cut their way through rocky glens, or
among deep woods; and these glens open suddenly into
quite broad, green valleys, shut in by the moors. The
rivers, wide and full with the waters of many streams,
leave their narrow picturesque dales, and flow through
these beautiful valleys, and across the open country to
the sea. These rivers are bordered by green pastures,
where the short-horned Durham ox feeds—a broad, thick
beast, fattest of any that make beef for the Christmas
The northern farmers know how to make the best of their
land, and the valleys are covered with cornfields,—
wheat, and, farther to the north, with barley and oats.
The low land by the coast does best for growing
potatoes and turnips.
In the east is a coal-field, reaching from the Coquet
in Northumberland to the south of Durham, where all the
mining villages are, and where there is the smoke of
many blast furnaces; for iron, as well as coal, is
found in this locality.
The bonny rivers of Northumberland—the Aln, the Coquet,
and the Tyne—all flow in nearly the same
 direction towards the sea. The Tweed, which is partly a
Scotch river, divides Northumberland from Scotland on
the north, as the Tyne divides it from Durham on the
The Tweed has Berwick at its mouth—a town to which many
a tale of border warfare belongs. It is a trading town
now, and a fishing town, for the Tweed, like all the
Northumbrian rivers, is famous for its fish—splendid
salmon and trout. Alnwick is the chief town on the Aln.
The Coquet has Warkworth, a busy little port, at its
mouth; Coquet Island, with its lighthouse, lies off the
coast. The Wansbeck flows nearly round Morpeth, a busy
town, where iron farm implements, such as ploughs and
harrows, are made. Leather and flannel are also made
III. RIVERS AND TRADING TOWNS
THE Tyne is the chief river of Northumberland. It is
formed by two streams, North Tyne and South Tyne, each
of which flows through its own beautiful dale. The two
join above the old town of Hexham, where a battle was
fought in a war we have not yet spoken of.
Towards Newcastle, the Tyne becomes a busy river; and
its bed has been deepened thence to the sea. Along the
sides of the river are ship-building yards, and
factories and stores are crowded on its banks.
Newcastle is an important port, which sends coal, iron
goods, and lead, with glass bottles and other things
made in the town, to the countries about the Baltic
 to the Mediterranean, and to America; getting in return
timber, pitch, and tar from the Baltic, sugar and
tobacco from America, fruits and wines from the
Newcastle is joined by bridges to Gateshead, a town on
the opposite side of the Tyne.
Tynemouth, North Shields, and South Shields are all
trading towns. Close to South Shields is Jarrow.
Gateshead, Jarrow, and South Shields, being south of
the Tyne, are in Durham. Sunderland, at the mouth of
the Wear, is the principal port of Durham, and the
largest town in the county; it is a shipbuilding and
coal-shipping place. Bishop Wearmouth and Monk
Wearmouth both join Sunderland, and make, with it, one
large town. Monk Wearmouth is named from the monks who
at one time dwelt at the mouth of the Wear.
Further up the valley is Chester-le-Street, where, in
Alfred's days, monks and bishop came to live when the
Danes drove them out of Lindisfarne.
Going up the river, we pass nearly round Durham, which
is an ancient city, with a very noble cathedral.
Paper, carpets, and mustard are made here. Close by
Durham is Neville's Cross, where Queen Philippa
defeated the Scots. Shortly after passing Bishop
Auckland, we get into Wear-dale and among the
The winding Tees divides Durham from Yorkshire. High up
in Teesdale the river tumbles, all in a white foam,
over a great cliff sixty feet high. Down it comes with
a rush and a roar, to be heard far off, and you stand,
until you grow giddy, watching the waters pour in
endless stream down the face of the rock. This Tees
waterfall is called High Force, Force being the
 north-country name for a waterfall. The river makes its
"Condemned to mine a channelled way
O'er solid sheets of marble grey,"—
and these grey rocks often rise in high and broken
cliffs, with trees growing in every niche, and bending
from the top. Teesdale is truly very beautiful.
The river passes by Darlington, where there are the
tall chimneys of wool and flax mills, and of
ironworks. Stockton stands by the wide mouth of the
Tees. It, also, is a ship-building and coaling place;
yet it is a bright, handsome town, standing in a
IV. THE COAL-FIELD.
WHAT should we do without coal? We cook, we travel, wo
light our streets and our rooms, we work our great
mills, and warm our houses—all by means of coal.
There are layers or beds of coal in many parts of the
country, called coal-fields, though they certainly are
not much like green fields. A well-stocked coal-cellar
underground is one of the good treasures our God has
laid up for English people.
In these fields, the coal lies in a number of layers,
or strata, separated from one another by layers of
slaty clay, called shale, and of coarse hard sandstone,
called grit. These form what are known as
coal-measures, where beds of sandstone, shale, clay,
and coal lie, one below another, to a great depth.
The layers of coal, called seams, are usually very
 thin. They are wide enough, stretching under a large
tract of country, but are often only a few inches deep
and (with a single exception) never more than six or
eight feet. There is a seam in Staffordshire thirty
feet in thickness. The beds of grit and shale between
the coal seams are a great deal thicker than the coal
itself; many different seams of coal, however, lie, one
under another, at the same spot.
The great northern coal-field of Northumberland and
Durham supplies London, and all the east and south
coast towns with coal, as well as a good deal of the
continent. It reaohes from the Tees to the Coquet;
there it ceases, and re-appears further north, having a
length of eighty miles in all, and a breadth of from
ten to twenty.
Bishop Auckland, Brancepeth, Durham, and
Chester-le-Street are the centres of the coal-mining in
Durham, and they all have mining villages round them.
Newcastle, Warkworth, Morpeth, Throckley, Walls-end,
whence the famous Wallsend coal comes, Hartley,
Willington, and many other villages and towns in
Northumberland, are the homes of the pitmen who work in
the neighbouring mines. From the Tweed to the Tyne, the
coal extends along the coast, and even dips below the
German Ocean; the miners at work in some of these pits
may hear the sea rolling over-head.
V. THE PIT
GEOLOGISTS can tell, by the sort of rock which appears
at the surface, whether coal is likely to be found
 Let us suppose a Coal Master is going to open a new
pit: he ohooses a likely spot for coal, but at present,
perhaps, sees nothing but a grass field or a furzy
The first thing to be done is to bore a hole deep down
into the earth, with a sort of chisel at the end of an
iron rod; as the hole is not large enough for a man to
follow the chisel, it is driven by a machine. If the
boring tool passes through many coal seams, the Coal
Master knows that he has found the right place for his
Then a shaft is sunk; that is, a hole deep enough to
reach a good thick coal seam, and wide enough to allow
men and horses and carts to be lowered to the ooal. The
shaft is a round opening, which is sometimes carried
down to a depth of five hundred yards before it touches
a ooal seam.
When they reach a good seam, the miners drive a broad
passage through it, from top to bottom, from roof to
floor. This is called the mother-gate: gate is the
north-country word for a road or way; and this is the
mother-gate because many passages are driven from it on
either side. When all the gates have been driven, the
coal-mine is a little like a town with many streets,
some wide, and some narrow, with great pillars of coal
here and there, like buildings.
The men who hew the coal are lowered into this
underground town, where the darkness is so black, that
it would make the darkest night seem bright; and all
the light they have is from the little candle or lamp
which each man carries in his hat. Every man has his
own place in the mine, and each sets to work with his
pick to hew out the walls of coal. The coal is thrown
into baskets, or into trucks, which horses draw
 along tramways to the great shaft: there it is put into
wagons, and these are raised to the surface by an
engine. Large underground stables are often to be seen
in a coal-pit.
The collier often works in galleries so low and narrow
that he cannot stand upright, or even sit. He labours
in a stooping posture, sometimes lying on hie side,
for—save for a short interval—eight or ten hours
together. His work is done by the glimmer of a small
candle, five or six hundred yards down in the bowels of
the earth. Often he must make his way through two or
three miles of underground passages to get to his work.
Nor is this all; the roof of his gloomy workshop may
break in and crush him; and often does so when he is
careless and does not put in a prop of wood from time
to time to uphold it. Then again, the earth's crust is
always more or less full of water, and, though engines
are kept at work, pumping, to keep the pits dry, a
sudden rush of water may burst in at any time, fill the
galleries, and drown the hewers. The air, too, is close
and bad in these deep pits; often bad enough to poison
a man, though great pains are taken to make a constant
draught through the mine.
There is another more terrible danger. A great fire may
break out suddenly and fill the pit with death, and, in
the most fearful manner, the miner may be scorched and
shrivelled to a blackened mass, or shattered to pieces
against the sides of the mine.
We all know that the gas with which our houses are
lighted is made from coal, and that, if this gas be
allowed to escape so as to fill a room, a lighted
candle taken into such a room would cause an explosion.
Coal, especially Newcastle coal, gives off a great deal
 of this inflammable gas in the pit. The gas mixes with
the air, and moves along with the current, or draught,
of air towards the shaft. Every now and then, the
collier lays open with his pick a hole in the coal
which is quite full of this gas, or, as the workmen
call it, fire-damp, which rushes out with a blowing
If a hewer with his lighted candle come in the way of
such a blower sending out a torrent of gas, the gas
blazes up, the flame spreads like lightning to other
gas all over the mine, and, battered by the explosion,
and shrivelled in the fierce heat, horses and men come
to a terrible end.
The only way of preventing these disasters seems to be
to keep the mines well ventilated; that is to say, to
keep the air that is in a mine always moving towards
one shaft, and to get in a supply of fresh air by
another. In this way, the fire-damp, instead of lodging
in holes and corners about the roof, is swept out
through the mine, and goes up the shaft as up a
VI. THE STORY OF A PIECE OF COAL
Adapted from Dr. Taylor's 'Geological Stories'
MANY long ages ago, this piece of coal was part of a
waving forest of tree-ferns and gigantic club-mosses.
The climate of England was very different then from
what it is now—never too hot nor too cold, and very
soft and balmy.
This great forest grew by the seaside, and the land was
slowly, slowly sinking. Every now and then the
 tide came in among the trees and went out again,
leaving much sand behind. In faot, many of the forests
were actually buried thus, and their strong trunks are
now met with, standing upright, in solid sandstone
After a forest had been buried in this way, other trees
could not grow very well on sandbanks; but as ages went
on, soil gathered on the sand, and another forest grew
in the place of the first, to be buried up in its turn.
During countless ages, this growth and covering up went
on, until, in some places, as in the South Wales
coal-field, there are no fewer than one hundred
different seams of coal, under each of which you may
see a clay full of the roots of those ancient forests.
After the trees had been long buried and pressed down
in the depths of the earth, changes began to take
place. The mass heated, and turned black, just as a
stack of hay does when it has been packed in a damp
state. By-and-by, it was changed into a sort of pulp,
so that you could not tell leaves from branches; and,
at last, it became hard, and black, and bright—the very
coal you all know so well.
These ancient forests grew by means of the ligljt and
heat of the sun, so that a piece of coal is really so
much fossil sunshine! And when you warm yourselves by
the fire, you are really enjoying the heat of the sun,
which was poured down on some forest of those old, old
days, and was stored away by its leaves.
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