Otterburn Castle
Otterburn Castle

A village made famous by a battle, Otterburn lies in pretty Redesdale countryside, in the heart of the Cheviot Hills, beside the River Rede where it is joined by the Otter Burn. Just outside Otterburn village a force under Sir Henry Percy (Hotspur) met a Scots army under the Earl of Douglas in 1388.

History

Though Douglas was killed, the Scots emerged victorious in a fierce battle fought partly by moonlight. The battle is remembered in a pair of songs, composed by the opposing fores. The Scots created a ballad called simply 'Otterburn', while the English song 'Chevy Chase' was inspired by the battle. Curiously, the dead from the battle were not buried in Otterburn, but carried to the churchyard at Elsdon, 3 miles away.

A restored loom at Otterburn Mill
A restored loom at Otterburn Mill
Today a memorial called The Percy Cross stands in a wooded grove beside the battlefield site, and a viewpoint looks across the farm fields where over 1000 English soldiers were killed or captured. The cross stands on the north side of the A696 about 1/2 mile west of the village. It was erected in 1777 when the creation of a turnpike road meant that the original medieval cross had to be pulled down.

Such violence was not unusual in Otterburn; the location near the Scottish border made it a target for Border Reivers (cattle thieves) on both sides. Rival gangs of Reivers roamed the turbulent region, stealing and terrorising the population.

One of the main visitor attractions is Otterburn Mill, a woollen mill begun in the 19th century and still in operation. Otterburn Mill is famous for its connection to the royal family. Princess Alexandra was known to favour Otterburn tweed and rugs, and each royal estate ordered a set of unique tweed garments for gamekeeping, fishing and shooting parties.

In 1926 the royal family ordered a small rug to fit the pram of Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II). The pram rugs proved so popular that they are still being made today - and you don't have to be royal to buy one! The Mill combines a retail shop, restaurant, craft shops, and mill visit experience. The Mill stands on the B6320 just south of the village centre.

The church in Otterburn is dedicated to St John the Evangelist. It was bult in 1855. Within the church porch is 'The Battle stone', part of the original Percy Cross erected to commemorate the Battle of Otterburn.

Also in the village is Otterburn Castle, a manor house founded in the 11th century by a cousin of William the Conqueror. The house stands in extensive parkland, and is now a luxury hotel. The castle is just a short walk from the church, and you can enjoy the grounds even if you are not a guest.