Market town in Northumberland, northeast England, 34 km/21 mi west of Newcastle upon Tyne; population (2001) 10,700. Woodchip board is the principal manufacture. The town is a tourist centre for Hadrian's Wall, a Roman frontier system and World Heritage Site lying 13 km/8 mi to the north. Hexham Abbey dates from the 12th century.
Features An ancient abbey church was founded on the site of the present Priory Church by Wilfrid, archbishop of York, in 674. It was sacked by the Danes in 876, and an Augustinian priory was founded on the site in 1114. The present Priory Church, a good example of Early English architecture, was built over the Saxon crypt. It contains a fine Perpendicular rood screen of oak and a carved Roman slab. Other features include the 15th-century Moot Hall and the 14th-century Manor Office, built originally as a prison and now housing a museum.
Close to the south of the town is the site of the Battle of Hexham, where the Lancastrians suffered a defeat in 1464. Nearby are the remains of Dilston Castle, seat of the last Earl of Derwentwater, who was beheaded in 1716. Hadrian's Wall includes the Roman forts of Chesters and Housesteads; and Vindolanda, site of the remains of eight forts and settlements. A National Trail follows the course of the wall from Bowness-on-Solway to Wallsend. The substantial Kielder Reservoir, about 48 km/30 mi to the northwest, is surrounded by the largest planned forest in Europe, and offers recreational and sailing facilities.