Background 1700 - 2000
The term “Upper Coquetdale” is usually taken to signify the portion of the valley of the river Coquet and its tributaries lying between the source of the river in the hills along the Scottish border and the town of Rothbury. For the purposes of the Historic Atlas project, this terminology produces some difficulties as only part of this geographical area lies within the Northumberland National Park.
The town of Rothbury lies to the north and east of the boundary of the Park which itself runs south of the river Coquet near Great Tosson. The river only becomes part of the Park a few hundred metres west of Hepple, where for several miles it forms the eastern boundary of Park from this point northwards to the farm of Angryhaugh. At Angryhaugh the Park boundary swings eastwards and the whole of the Coquet valley northwards is contained within the National Park.
Historically, the whole area of Upper Coquetdale was contained within the parish of Alwinton and the extra-parochial district of Kidland, but this integrity has been destroyed by the Park boundary. Although all of Kidland, an ancient Lordship, is contained within the Park, areas of the valley formerly linked to the villages of Alwinton, Harbottle and Holystone are now outside the boundary of the Park.
At the same time, two families, the Selbys and the Fenwicke-Clennells, owned much of the land in the upper Coquet valley, in the period 1700 to 2000. Neither of these families resides in the valley at the present time, nor have they left significant records from which to reconstruct details of estate management, both of which omissions present problems for the historian. The survey which follows is thus limited in its scope and suggests that much still needs to be done before a detailed account of the economic and social life of this area of the Northumberland National Park can be written.