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Easting: 593320  Northing: 362440  Latitude:N55:13:58   Longitude: W2:35:32  Show Location Map
Kielder Castle from Kielder Burn

The village of Kielder is a small rural community situated in the North Tyne valley at the northern end of Kielder Reservoir, 8½ miles northwest of Falstone. Kielder village takes its name from Kielder Burn, which means the Violent Stream. The Kielder Burn unites with the Deadwater Burn to form the North Tyne river. Kielder village is welcoming to visitors today, but the area has a long and turbulent history.

A prehistoric cairn or burial mount of stones was found here, and given the name the Devil's Lapful. There is evidence of a burial site dating from about 3000BC. Flint arrowheads have also been found in Kielder Burn. Lying in a remote area with a sparse population near to the border with Scotland, the North Tyne suffered border raids and warfare for many centuries. William Wallace's army rampaged through here in 1297 and it is recorded in 1311-1312 that Robert the Bruce 'laid waste to Keildir'. Of the people living in the district, the very wealthy built castles; clansmen generally built pele towers, while small farms had bastles for defence. The Cout of Kielder was a border chieftain, famous for his height. He perished suddenly during one of the many disputes, and is buried near Kielder in an enormous grave. In an attempt to maintain law and order, the borders were divided into the East, West and Middle Marches, with a warden for each, and Kielder lay within the Middle March.

As time passed to more recent centuries, whiskey distilling and whiskey running became a popular vocation. One of the travelling routes which was a favourite was named 'Smuggler's Leap'. More respectable employment came in the eighteenth century with the growth of mining, particularly Plashetts in the Kielder area. This colliery supplied the limekilns of Liddesdale. During this time Kielder Castle was constructed, as a shooting lodge or box, for Hugh Smithson, first Duke of Northumberland. Castellated and quadrangular in style, it stood with Pearl Fell towering behind it and with a commanding view down the river looking toward the mountain called Bewshaugh.

In the nineteenth century tile works, lead mining and for a time an iron foundry were in operation at Kielder; these businesses helped to improve roads within the valley. In 1862 the LNER railway opened a line into the Kielder area, used to speed the delivery of coal to the midlands.

Kielder stone, also known as 'the Girdle Stone', can be found here, straddling the English/Scottish border. It is noted in nineteenth century trade directories as a prominent landmark, with the portion above ground reckoned to weigh more than 1400 tons. Popular local tradition states that the unlucky have to ride around the stone 3 times against the sun to better their luck.

From the 1920s Kielder Forest, extending for 6 miles either side of the Deadwater Burn, was the largest Forestry Commission scheme in England. The workforce were given smallholdings in the valley. More recently the reservoir was created, the largest man-made lake in Europe. Kielder today is a popular place for visitors for a number of reasons including walking, camping and watersports.