The importance of the attractive town of Hexham began when St Wifrid built his great monastery there in the 7th Century, of which only the unique crypt remains beneath the Priory church. It was bounded by a wall that separated it from the Market Place and the civil administration, which includes the Moothall and Old Gaol. These areas still form the nucleus of the town, which lay in the turbulent Border country between England and Scotland. The vital industry of tanning and glove-making has now gone, but there are smaller industries in its place. The town is a focus of music, the arts and sport. The Queen's Hall houses library, cafe, galleries and theatre. It is linked by roads and by the early Carlisle-Newcastle railway which bring in tourists and local people for many activities such as the Hexham Gathering and the Abbey Arts Festival. Much has changed, but the historic centre remains intact. The author has lived here for over 30 years and is an Honorary Steward and Bailiff of the town.
A resident of the area for more than forty years, Dr Stan Beckensall has long researched the history and archaeology of Northumberland and holds an Honorary Doctor of Letters Degree from Newcastle University for his work. He is the author of many books and has been awarded many honours including the Channel 4 ICT Television British Archaeology Award for 2006.