Both settlements lie on a road running from the upper reaches of the Coquet in the west towards the market town of Rothbury in the southeast, and sit on the edge of the River Coquet. To the north and west the settlement is overlooked by the southern extremes of the Cheviot Hills, while towards the east spread the more hospitable undulating lands of central Northumberland.
The area of study adopted is represented by the historic township of Alwinton. This was one of twelve townships incorporated in the ecclesiastical parish of Alwinton, which covered a substantial area on the north side of the Coquet, extending right up to the border, and is now combined with the Chapelry of Holystone on the south side of the dale.
The township contained an area of 1810 acres in the 19th century (NCH XV (1940), 405). The township included both settlements and incorporated the valleys of the Hoseden Burn and the Alwinton Burn to the northwest, rising to a summit of 392m O.D. on Lord's Seat. To the east the township also contained the slopes of Parson Side rising to 232m O.D.