A traditional market town and administrative centre for the Tynedale District until 2009, located on the banks of the River Tyne, lying just off the A69, about 25 miles west of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Hexham is one of the gateways to the Heart of Hadrian’s Wall, served by a railway station and bus station providing easy access to the Heart of Hadrian’s Wall.
The town’s landscape is dominated by both the Abbey, overlooking the busy Market Square, and the “Shambles” a Grade II covered market built in 1766. As a traditional market town, it has a long history of hosting a regular weekly market, something that still takes place today, as well as hosting the local farmers market on the second and fourth Saturday of every month. Hexham is also home to a busy cattle mart (other farm animals are accommodated too) at Tyne Green, serving the local farming community.
Hexham has had a chequered history, greatly suffering from the border wars between England and Scotland, seeing the town burnt down in 1297 by William Wallace, threatened by Robert the Bruce in 1312, followed by a sacking of the monastery in 1345 by King David II of Scotland. During the Wars of the Roses, the Battle of Hexham was fought somewhere to the south of the town in 1464, and in 1715 a banner was raised for James Francis Edward Stuart in Hexham as part of the Jacobite Rebellion.
Hexham was well renowned for its manufacture of leather, particularly for making gloves known as Hexham Tans - now the name of a vegetarian restaurant in the town, and evidence of this can still be seen in the place names in the Gilesgate area. Today it is home of the famous botanical brewery Fentimans and on the outskirts of the town, a chipboard factory owned by the Austrian firm Egger manufactures and supplies chipboard throughout the UK and beyond.
Hexham has a lot to offer the visitor and indeed is extremely popular with visitors to the area. The Abbey, originally founded as a monastery is 674 by Wilfrid. The Crypt of the original monastery still survives, and can be visited, and was actually believed to be constructed from stone taken from nearby Roman structures including Hadrian’s Wall. Opposite the Abbey across the Market Square, stands the Moot Hall, a 15th Century gatehouse that was part of the defences of the town. And behind the Moot Hall is the Old Gaol, one of the first purpose-built jails in England.
Hexham houses a huge range of independent, innovative and interesting shops, pubs and coffee shops, and definitely cannot be accused of being a town filled by chain shops. It also has a number of golf courses and a picturesque and highly regarded racecourse at Yarridge Heights in the hills above the town, which holds steeplechase races throughout the year
You can enjoy walks along the river bank at Tyne Green or stop and enjoy the rowers, as they practice and compete, on the River Tyne. Hexham is also the home of the famous Tyne Tour, Europe’s largest mass participation canoeing event.
The River Tyne is England's best Salmon fishing river and every year people gather on the bridge across the River Tyne at Hexham to watch the fish jumping up the weir to spawn further up-stream.