Hexham is a market town in Northumberland, England, south of the River Tyne, about 22 miles west of Newcastle Upon Tyne, with a population of almost 12,000.
Hexham Abbey originated as a monastery founded by Wilfrid in 674. The crypt of the original monastery survives, and incorporates many stones taken from nearby Roman ruins, probably Corbridge or Hadrian's Wall. The current Hexham Abbey dates largely from the 11th century onward, but was significantly rebuilt in the 19th century.
The name of Hexham derives from the Old English Hagustaldes ea and later Hagustaldes ham whence the modern form (with the "-ham" element) derives. Hagustald is related to the Old High German hagustalt, denoting a younger son who takes land outside the settlement; the element ea means "stream" or "river" and ham is the Old English form of the Modern English "home" (and the Scots and Northern English "hame").
Like many towns in the Anglo-Scottish border area and adjacent regions, Hexham suffered from the border wars between the kingdoms of Scotland and England, including attacks from William Wallace who burnt the town in 1297. In 1312, Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland, demanded and received £2000 from the town and monastery in order for them to be spared a similar fate. In 1346 the monastery was sacked in a later invasion led by King David II of Scotland. In 1464 during the Wars of the Roses, the Battle of Hexham was fought somewhere to the south of the town.
The town is served by Hexham, a station on the Tyne Valley Line. It is situated on part of the original Newcastle and Carlisle Railway route, dating back to 1837, and links the city of Newcastle upon Tyne with Carlisle. The line follows the course of the River Tyne through Northumberland.
Hexham's racecourse, a thoroughbred horse racing track, is at Yarridge Heights, just south of the town, in the hills above the town, with National Hunt (steeplechase) races throughout the year.
It is a left-handed circuit of about one and a half miles with a short uphill climb on the approach to the finishing straight and a run-in of 250 yards. Hexham is a National Hunt course with ten fences for the steeplechasers to negotiate. Its principal race is the Heart of All England Hunter Chase. Hexham is the most northerly National Hunt course in England and its remote position means that no races are held in February.