Hexham is a very interesting old market town in Northumberland, 20 miles to the West of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
It stands on a terrace overlooking the River Tyne, and is not far from Hadrian's Wall.
Hexham was the administrative centre for the district known throughout the Middle Ages as Hexhamshire.
Hexham Priory, usually known incorrectly as Hexham Abbey, is on the site of the building founded by the highly controversial Bishop St. Wilfrid in 674, but the present church dates mainly from 1113, when it was rebuilt after centuries of raids by both Danes and Scots.
Beneath the Priory is the Anglo-Saxon crypt, built by Wilfrid at about the same time that he built the crypt at Ripon Cathedral.
The Market Place stands in the middle of the town. and contains The Shambles, a long open shelter where most of the market stalls are housed.
The forbidding 14th century tower known as the Moot Hall is now used for exhibitions.
The even more forbidding Manor Office, also from the 14th century, contains a museum devoted to border history. It was the first purpose built prison in England.
Hexham has a lovely park named The Sele.
Just outside Hexham, in 634, was fought the Battle of Heavenfield, where Oswald of Northumbria erected a cross on the battlefield before defeating the invading Caedwalla of Gwynedd.
The Battle of Hexham was fought 3 miles South of the town during the Wars of the Roses. The Yorkists beat the Lancastrians, after which the Duke of Somerset was executed.
The North Yorkshire Militia were called to quell a gathering of miners in 1761. They had been protesting against new recruitment rules. The militia opened fire, causing 50 deaths and 300 injuries. In the aftermath, an old man was hanged for taking part in the demonstration, although it was later proved that he had been out of town on the day in question.
The militia thus earned themselves the honourable nickname "The Hexham Butchers".
St. Ailred, adviser to Henry II of England, David I of Scotland and Louis VII of France, was born at Hexham.
Blue Badge Guide Colin Crosby is available to lead Guided Walks around Hexham for groups.