Corbridge: A Brief History

By , November 28, 2009 15:59

We operate taxis in Corbridge, a quiet village in Northumberland in the North of England. However historically it was a town of high importance and one of the largest Roman stations in the north (Corstopitum).

Although some English towns sprang up on the sites occupied by the Romans, the new settlements were usually in the immediate neighbourhood, possibly from superstitious motives.

The first written evidence of Corbridge‘s existence occurs in 800 A.D. when the Anglian settlement is named Et Corabrige. The name is clearly derived from the Roman bridge, and is therefore one of the few places before the Norman Conquest named after a bridge. However it is not known where the first part of the word – COR -comes from. The Cor burn clearly derives its name from the village of Corbridge. Probably the word COR is that part of the Roman name which survived. It is a matter of historical record that a bishop was consecrated at the Corbridge monastery. This monastery is clearly the parish church whose porch was built entirely of Roman stones. The style of the building is similar to the seventh century churches of Jarrow and Monkwearmouth. It is dedicated to St. Andrew like four other Tyne valley churches, Bywell, Hexham, Heddon and Newcastle.

It has been suggested that when the kingdom of Northumbria declined and Bamburgh was no longer used as a capital the royal seat was removed to Corbridge. The town certainly prospered mainly because it was at the junction of two ancient highways, namely Dere Street and the Stanegate. The Roman Stanegate was the main road across the isthmus from Tynemouth to Carlisle, until the Military Road was built. This trade led to the early development of a market which is first mentioned in the thirteenth century but had clearly been in existence long before. There was also an annual fair in existence in 1293, which was probably held at Stagshaw Bank a mile to the north on Dere Street. The development of the Alston lead and silver mines meant that this fair continued to prosper into the twentieth century. Corbridge appears to have had a royal mint. Coins have survived of Henry I with the name of the moneyor on them EREBALD ON COLEB, the last word being Corbridge. At this time the royal tax of tallage paid by Corbridge was as high as Newcastle showing the relative importance of the two places. In 1201, when King John was in the north, he caused a search to be made at Corbridge imagining the town had once been large and populous, and must have been ruined by an earthquake, and that the people would have been unable to remove their wealth. Legend says that this search was in vain.

I hope this article has provided an informative insight into the Anglian history of Corbridge.


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