The present state of Newcastle: Situation and boundaries

Pages 157-160

Historical Account of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne Including the Borough of Gateshead. Originally published by Mackenzie and Dent, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1827.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


Table of contents



NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE is sometimes emphatically styled the Metropolis of the North. It is situated on the north banks of the river Tyne, and is distant 8 miles west from the sea, 273 miles north-north-west from London, 56 miles east from Carlisle, and 117 miles south-east from Edinburgh. Dr. Hutton, in his Plan of Newcastle, places it in 55 degrees north latitude, and in 1 degree 17 minutes west longitude. But Mr. John Bruce, an able teacher, of this town, found this statement of the latitude was incorrect. This was also ascertained to be the case by that eminent mathematician, Mr. Henry Atkinson, who likewise corrected the longitude, from repeated observations made on the passage of the moon over the meridian and on the satellites of Jupiter. Since then, the true position of Newcastle has been ascertained with the utmost accuracy, by Mr. Edward Riddle, of Greenwich, while master of the Trinity School here. He drew the meridian line in the tower of St. Nicholas' church; and, by excellent instruments, found it to be in 54 degrees, 58 minutes, 30 seconds, north latitude; and in 1 degree, 37 minutes, 30 seconds, west longitude. This agrees exactly with the Trigonometrical Survey of England.

The situation of Newcastle, however well chosen it may once have been for the purposes of security, is but ill adapted to answer those of neatness and convenience. The lower parts of the town seem to have been embanked from the river; and the higher parts stand upon three steep and lofty eminences. The western ridge terminates exactly in front of the bridge, on which the Romans, Saxons, and Normans, have successively erected their chief fortress, the first probably in imitation of the ancient Britons, who evinced great skill in the selection of their military positions. This mount was separated by a deep ravine, lately converted into an elegant street, from the middle ridge, which, stretching northward, is bounded by another deep ravine formed by a brook, or burn, that nearly separates the whole of Newcastle, properly so called, from its extensive eastern suburbs.

The town is usually reckoned to extend along the banks of the river (from the Skinner-burn to St. Peter's Quay) at least two miles from west to east: about one half of this may be taken for the base of a triangle, the northernmost point of which is near a mile from the bridge; within which, though with several irregularities and vacant spaces, the great body of the town may be conceived to be comprehended.


The boundaries of Newcastle by land were undoubtedly fixed when it was first made a county of itself, and are described as follow:—From a small brook, or course of water, called the Swerle, on the east side of the town, along the shores of the Tyne into Elswick fields; thence into the fields of Fenham, Kenton, Coxlodge, Jesmond, to Barras Bridge; then down a lane to Sandiver Bridge, and through Shieldfield into a lane leading to the Tyne. But in the 2d and 3d of Edward VI. all that ground from the Swerle in Sandgate, by the river Tyne, to St. Laurence Quay, and sweeping away on the north side, from thence to Stoney-ford, and through Great and Little St. Ann's Closes, Durham Close, Baxter's Close, and Lumley Close, till it again join the Swerle, running towards Sandgate, was added to the town and county of Newcastle.

From the common council books, it appears that a set of march or bounder stones were set up in the year 1648; and in 1751, an order in the town's council was passed, that, in future, "the bounders of the corporation be rode every three years," in order to preserve the rights and property of the corporation. (fn. 1) This order has been punctually observed.

The boundaries of the jurisdiction and of the property of the town of Newcastle are two distinct considerations. It is observable that round the moor the boundary stones are placed a little within the hedge that separates the grounds of other proprietors from those of the town of Newcastle.


  • 1. The following account of the boundary, or bounder, stones of Newcastle, was found amongst the papers of the late Dr. Charles Hutton, and is now in the possession of Mr. James Charlton, master of the Anchorage School, Gateshead. It is supposed to be in the hand-writing of Mr. Gibson, town-clerk of Newcastle at the time when the survey was made, and which was probably executed by the Doctor himself. It is certain that Dr. Hutton made an actual survey of Newcastle and Gateshead, which was finished in 1770, and engraved in two sheets by Mr. J. Ellis. The "book" referred to in the appended directions is the account. It is in the form of a small quarto copy-book. An Account of the Bounder Stones in Newcastle upon Tyne. The blue stone on the Tyne Bridge is the first in the usual course of perambulating the boundaries; but the same not being an upright stone, is not marked with its proper number, therefore the first that is numbered is [From here the boundaries adjoyn Swinburn's estate of Elswick.] 1. At the corner of the pot-house at Skinner Burn. 2. Near to the Firth well, behind the gardener's house, which stands at the entrance into the lane leading to and from the Maiden's Walk. Ɔ The said lane and the little garden. 3. Behind Dagnia's house and garden, in the field next to Dixon the florist's garden. Ɔ The West Gate: the stone at the house corner to be marked O. 4. In the Back Loaning against Bryan's garden wall. [From here the boundaries adjoyn Hodgshon's estate of Elswick.] 5. At the head of the Shoulder of Mutton Lane. 6. At the foot of the said Lane in Gallowgate. 7. In the Musick Garden. [From here to almost through Kenton, the numbers are 1 short on every stone.] 8. In do. Ɔ The lane at the head of the Musick Garden. 9. In Todd's nook field, near the weaver's house. 10. In the field north of, or next beyond, the quarry. 11. In the next field. 12. In the next field. [None in the next field.] 13. In the next field. 14. In the next field. [N one in the next, being the last field in Elswick. Here Fenham begins.] 15. In the next field, being the first in Fenham. 16. In the next field. Ɔ Fenham Lane. 17. In the next field north of Fenham Lane. 18. In the same field. 19. In the same field. [None in the next field. 20. In the next field. 21. In the next, or Mill Field. Ɔ West Cow Gate Lane. 22. In the next field, north of West Cow Gate. 23. In the next, or last of Fenham. 24. In the same field. [Here Kenton begins.] 25. In the next field, or first in Kenton. [None in the next field. Here turn eastward.] 26. In the corner of the next field. 27. In the next field. 28. In the next field. 29. In the next field. 30. In the next field 31. In the next field. 32. In the next field.33. In the same field. 34. In the next field. 35. In the next field. 36. In the next field. 37. In the next field. A new stone to be put up here in the place marked for it. Ɔ Kenton Lane, and pass Graham's house. 38. In the Well Field, near the Well. [Here Coxlodge grounds begin.] Ɔ Coxlodge Lane. 39. In the next field. [None in the next field.] Ɔ An outshot or nook of next field. 40. In the next field. 41. In the next field. Ɔ The turnpike road. 42. In the next little field, on the east side of the road.—Qy: If this is not Duke's moor ground ? None in the next.—Qy: If not two in the last fields, or in one of these fields. 43. In the next field. 44. In the next field. None in the next field. 45. In the next field, near Moory Crook Gate. Ɔ The said gateway. 46. In the next field. 47. In the next field. None in the next. None in the next. None in the next. None in the next. 48. In the next field. 49. In the next field. None in the next, being Pigg's Stile Field. Ɔ Jesmond Lane. 50. In the next field. None in the next. None in the next. None in the next. None in the next. None in the next. The stones with a single castle in these fields, are not bounder stones. 51. Near to the entrance into Sandiver Lane, without the hedge. be marked O. 52. In the Lane, on the south side. This stone to be castled. It is the second stone in the Lane. Ɔ 53. At the head or entrance into Shield Field. 54. In the same field, a little beneath or towards the south of the house.—This stone is down—put it up. Ɔ The way into the next field. 55. In the Oil Mill Field. 56. At the corner of Red Barns, or Stepney Garden wall. 57. At the head of Red Barns or Stepney Bank, opposite the Oil Mill. 58. At Ouseburn, near the foot of the said bank or lane.—To be castled. Ɔ The Burn. Ɔ The turnpike road at the upper part of the ground. 59. At the head of East Ballast Hills, near the south side of the turnpike road. None in the first field on the skirts of Byker, on the east side of East Ballast Hills. 60. In the next field. 61. In the next field. 62. In the next field, on the east side of the hedge. 63. At the foot of the next field. None in the next field. 64. At the foot of the next field, near Saint Peter's Quay, on the east side of the rivulet. 65. At the head of the Wide Open, in Sandgate, on the west side of the lane. 66. At the head of the Swarle, in Sandgate, on the west side of the lane. 67. At the head of Maughan's Chare, in Sandgate. 68. At the head of the Joyner's Chare, Sandgate. 69. At the head of the Potthouse Chare, in Sandgate, on the east side of the chare. Note.—In Jesmond grounds, adjoyning to the Town Moor, there are four fields together without one bounder stone in any of them. And after passing Jesmond Lane, and the next field on the south side of it, then follow about five or six fields all together, without one bounder stone therein, the next you come at being near to the entrance into Sandiver Lane, on the outside of the hedge, not within the hedge, as all the other stones are. If it should be thought proper to put up any new stones in the above vacancies, the same should be done before the numbers are cut on the present stones, and before the plan is made, that the new stones may be taken into the number and plan, which cannot be done afterwards. Mr. Gunn is desired to rectify the numbers on the bounder stones throughout the whole boundary, according as they are numbered in this book; and to let Wilkie be the person, or one of the persons at least, employed in this business, as he knows and has viewed bounder stones; and let him have this book to have recourse to, as he goes along, lest of any further mistake. There must be a new stone put up (No. 37) in the spot marked for it in the 44th field in Kenton grounds—the spot was shown to Wilkie. Let the tenant there (or Mr. Richmond) have notice to see it put up in the right place, lest of any complaint afterwards. The second stone in Shield Field is lying down, and must be set up. The second stone in Sandiver Lane (52), and also the stone at Ouseburn (58), must have the castles cut on them. The stone at the corner of the house at the West Gate, and also the first stone on the south side of Sandiver Lane, within the Lane, do both of them stand upon the bounder line, and on that account have been taken for bounder stones, though it is allowed that they were not put up as bounder stones, and therefore neither of them have been numbered, but are now each to be marked with an O, to distinguish them from the rest. Such of the stones as are loose, or leaning to one side, to be fastened and set erect. Note.—The Vacancies or want of stones in Jesmond grounds, see the book. Mr. Gunn is desired to take Mr. Mayor's directions in all these things before he proceeds, and to lose no time in completing the whole.