FROM Hadrian’s Wall to Geordie Shore and Ant and Dec, one historian has taken a look at Northumbria’s cultural tapestry, and all the factors which make the Northumbrian people distinct.

Born in Whitley Bay, Dr Dan Jackson, author of The Northumbrians – North East England and Its People has always felt that The Northumbrians, and their part in both British and Global history, had often been overlooked.

Dan writes in the preface of his book: “As Frank Atkinson, the founder of Beamish once explained: ‘The people of North-East England tended to have a chip on their shoulder about their past, proud of it, and yet feeling it was undervalued.’

“The museum was for them, and this book is written for Northumbrian people too, and for anyone who wants to understand why they are the way they are.”

The Northumbrians therefore goes much beyond simply recounting the county’s varied history, and instead analyses the social/cultural norms of the North-East, and the people who call it home.

“It was only when I left home that I became aware that not everywhere else was like this,” said Dan. “And then I started asking myself questions about Geordie culture, such as why did the pub chat of my father and his pals invariably get around to discussing local hard men like ‘Billy One Punch’ and why were we so obsessed with football? Why did so many of my school pals end up in the military? And lastly, why was everyone so funny? These questions later became the basis of the book, which I try to answer.”

In his book, Dan discusses how the popular stereotype of the Geordie man has long been associated with “beery hedonism” and masculinity, a stereotype he pins on the border county’s deep military roots.

He explains that from the moment Emperor Hadrian built his wall, Northumbrian peoples’ lives have long been associated with war and violence – including being caught in the crossfire between England and Scotland’s battle for power for centuries, and two world wars, in which a large percentage of Northumbrian men gave up their freedom to fight. This culture of war, masculinity and hardiness seeps into the culture, traces of which Dan explains can be found in the dialect today.

“There are plenty of Geordie words which derive from notions of masculinity, such as ‘gan radge’ meaning an aggressive outburst, or ‘belta’, a word deriving from the verb to belt, or hit something with force,” he said.

This isn’t to say, however, that Northumbrians’ famous warmth isn’t also reflected in their dialect. Dan points this out with the affectionate term ‘marra’ – which derives from the region’s pronunciation of the word ‘marrow’ – describing a companionship which has meaning so deep it is felt in the bones.

It would be impossible to mention all the unique characters featured in The Northumbrians, which span the likes of coal miners, to lords and ladies, footballers, sailors, reality TV stars, and the ‘guysers’ native to the Allen Valleys, who once a year gather to lift whisky barrels full of tar on to their head which are then set on fire. Each individual truly has a fascinating story to tell.

Some of Dan’s favourite Northumbrians featured include the acclaimed Mickley engraver and natural history author Thomas Bewick, whose childhood days spent exploring the flora and fauna of the Tyne Valley would later would have a major influence on his work as an artist.

Morpeth’s Cuthbert Collingwood, is described by Dan as “a genuine British hero, and a truly kind man,” but who never received the same recognition as Nelson for the victory in the Battle of Trafalgar.

“The person who really surprised me while I was researching for the book was County Durham born Getrude Bell, who isn’t someone who crops up much in history, but lived an extraordinary and unexpected life travelling across the Middle East translating poetry from the original Persian.

“She later became the first woman officer in the history of British intelligence during the First World War, only adding to her long-list of impressive achievements.”

So, how much does Dan think Geordie culture and people have changed over time?

“In many ways I don’t believe much at all,” he said. “We still value our sense of community, and Newcastle remains a vortex of consumption of alcohol and all round fun, as it always has been.

“The likes of the younger generation on shows such as Geordie Shore, are simply the 21st century equivalent of the ‘bonnie pit laddie and lassie’ which we know from the past.”

The Northumbrians – North East England and Its People will be released in September and can be purchased from