Battle of Newburn Ford 1640


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
Gateshead (Metropolitan Authority)
Non Civil Parish
Newcastle upon Tyne (Metropolitan Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:
NZ 16383 63953



King Charles I's attempt to impose a new prayer book on the Scots led to military conflict in the summer of 1640. To avoid assaulting the strong defences on the north side of Newcastle, a Scottish army of up to 20,000 men under the command of Alexander Leslie decided to cross the Tyne and attack from the weaker southern side. Lord Conway opposed the crossing from the south bank of the Tyne, constructing fortification to defend both of the fords.

The English were driven from one fortification by the weight of the Scot's artillery bombardment. The Scottish cavalry crossed the ford but were countered by English cavalry. The Scots forced the English to retreat to higher ground where they made a last stand but were beaten off by the Scots' advance, who afterwards occupied Newcastle.

The Battle of Newburn Ford was the only battle of the Second Bishops' War. Politically it was of the greatest importance. The cost to King Charles of raising the army and the need to buy off the Scots after their occupation of Newcastle forced the King to install the Long Parliament which sat through the Civil Wars until the Restoration.

The landscape of 1640 was profoundly different from that of today. The river had been straightened and the floodplain largely developed. Even so, the topography allows an understanding of the course of events during the battle, which took place over pastureland with woods on the steep river cliffs.

AMENITY FEATURES The area of the battlefield is heavily industrialised, yet areas of historical and natural heritage interest are numerous. Standing at either end of Newburn Bridge provides a good view of the land over which the battle took place and interpretation would be desirable.

OTHER DESIGNATIONS The area around Newburn village benefits from a variety of nature conservation designations. Most of the area south of the Tyne is Green Belt, some also being Quality Landscape within Green Belt. The area around Ryton Willows is a site of Special Scientific Interest and is proposed as a Local Nature Reserve. The north-west part of the battlefield falls within the Tyne riverside Country Park.

Part of the battlefield at Ryton and the area between Stella Lane and Hexham Old Road are in Conservation Areas. The area around Ryton Grange is an Area of Potential Archaeological Importance.

KEY SOURCES Gardiner, S R, 1899, History of England from the Accession of James I to the Outbreak of the Civil War 1603 - 1642 Terry, C S, 1899, The Life and Campaigns of Alexander Leslie, First Earl of Leven

This list entry was subject to a Minor Amendment to the Selected Sources on 10/04/2019


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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English Heritage Battlefield Report: Battle of Newburn Ford (Published 1995), accessed 10th April 2019 from


This battlefield is registered within the Register of Historic Battlefields by Historic England for its special historic interest.

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