Most historians now agree that there was probably no Roman settlement at Hexham, especially as the Roman supply base at Corstopitum was only three miles away. Hexham’s recorded history therefore begins with the grant of land called Hagustald’s Land [roughly Hexham and Hexhamshire today] to Bishop Wilfrid of York to build a fine Church and Monastery in 674AD. The monastic community attracted a lay community on the high ground to its North, East and South, whose buildings covered the current town centre area.
The Norman Conquest saw Hexham beginning to prosper, after initially succumbing to King William’s ‘harrying the North’, when it came into the care of the Archbishop of York. By 1113 its prosperity was such as to justify the building of the modern Priory Church and Monastery over the now ruined site of Wilfrid’s building. About this time the town became known as Hextildisham after the wife [Hextilda] of Richard Comyn, Lord of Tynedale, a substantial patron of the new Priory. Hextildisham soon contracted to Hexham and thus it has remained.
To understand more about how Hexham’s current buildings reflect the town’s history and heritage, click here.