The River Aln near Alnmouth
River Aln shown within Northumberland
|OS grid reference||NT996108|
|River Aln route map|
The River Aln (pronounced //, or //) runs through the county of Northumberland in England. It rises in Alnham in the Cheviot Hills and discharges into the North Sea at Alnmouth on the east coast of England.
The Aln is first mentioned in the Geography of Ptolemy, a 2nd Century AD Roman cartographer. He refers to it as the River Alaunus (Geographica 188.8.131.52), on which seems to be situated the town of Alauna (Geographica 184.108.40.206). This can speculatively be identified as the Roman fort at Learchild, where the Devil's Causeway crosses the river.
The Aln is a relatively small river but has been important through history as one of the boundaries along which English and Scottish troops marching to war had to cross; for that reason, it was at times heavily defended. For example, the river flows past Learchild Roman Fort and, more significantly, Alnwick Castle which was built for this purpose.
In two battles at Alnwick the river was a significant element: the first in 1093 between Malcolm III of Scotland and Robert de Mowbray; the second in 1174 between William I of Scotland and Ranulf de Glanville.
The river has a good run of sea trout and salmon, as well as a population of resident brown trout. Public fishing is controlled by the Aln Anglers' Association. The Aln also has a resident population of otters. Grey heron, barn owls, kestrels and buzzards can be observed hunting along the banks of the river.
Part of the estuary is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and the river below Lesbury footbridge (the normal tidal limit, except on high springs and in surge events) was included in 2013 proposals as a possible marine conservation zone. Large groups of Lapwings, Oyster Catchers and Curlews can often be seen. In smaller numbers are Mallards, Shelducks, Grey Herons, Cormorants, Greylag Geese, Canada Geese, Swans and the occasional family of Goosander. Less often spotted are Barn Owls, Kestrels, Avocets and Little Egrets. Further down the tidal zone a visitor will often see Sandwich Tern and Common Tern, as well as a variety of Gulls and smaller waders including Redshanks, Greenshanks, Turnstones, Ringed Plovers, Pied Wagtails, and other Sandpipers.
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