Northumberland

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Northumberland is a county in the North East of England. The non-metropolitan county of Northumberland borders Cumbria to the west, County Durham to the south and Tyne and Wear to the south east, as well as having a border with the Scottish Borders council area to the north, and nearly eighty miles of North Sea coastline. Since 1974 the county council has been located in Morpeth, situated in the east of the county; however, both Morpeth and Alnwick claim the title county town.

As the kingdom of Northumbria under King Edwin, the region's historical boundaries stretched from the Humber in the south to the Forth in the north. The historic boundaries of the county cover a different area, including Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the traditional county town, as well as Tynemouth and other settlements in North Tyneside, areas administered by Tyne and Wear since 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972. The historic boundaries of the county are sometimes taken to exclude Islandshire, Bedlingtonshire and Norhamshire (collectively North Durham), exclaves of County Durham which were incorporated into Northumberland in 1844.

Being on the border of Scotland and England, Northumberland has been the site of many battles. The county is noted for its undeveloped landscape of high moorland, a favourite with landscape painters, and now largely protected as a National Park.

Northumberland's county flower is the Bloody Cranesbill (Geranium sanguineum) and her affiliated Royal Navy ship is her namesake, HMS Northumberland.

The physical geography of Northumberland is diverse. It is low and flat near the North Sea coast and increasingly mountainous toward the northwest. The Cheviot Hills, in the northwest of the county, consist mainly of resistant Devonian granite and andesite lava. A second area of igneous rock underlies Whin Sill (on which Hadrian's Wall runs), an intrusion of carboniferous Dolerite. Both ridges support a rather bare moorland landscape. Either side of Whin Sill the county lies on carboniferous limestone, giving some areas of karst landscape. Lying off the coast of Northumberland are the Farne Islands, another Dolerite outcrop, famous for their bird life.

There are coal fields in the southeast corner of the county, extending along the coastal region north of the river Tyne. The term 'sea coal' likely originated from chunks of coal, found washed up on beaches, that wave action had broken from coastal outcroppings.

Being in the far north of England, above 55° latitude, and having many areas of high land, Northumberland is one of the coldest areas of the country. It has an average annual temperature of 7.1 to 9.3 °C, with the coldest temperatures inland.However, the county lies on the east coast, and has relatively low rainfall, between 466 and 1060 mm annually, mostly falling in the west on the high land. Between 1971 and 2000 the county averaged 1321 to 1390 hours of sunshine per year.

Approximately a quarter of the county is protected as the Northumberland National Park, an area of outstanding landscape that has largely been protected from development and agriculture. The park stretches south from the Scottish border and includes Hadrian's Wall. Most of the park is over 800 feet (240 metres) above sea level. The Northumberland Coast is also a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Wording courtesy of http://www.wikipedia.org/

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