The name Alnwick (of a town in Northumberland) is pronounced 'ANN-ick', IPA: /'ænɪk/. It is derived from wīc, an Old English word for 'dwelling place', and Aln (AWln, /ɔːln/), the name of the river on which it sits. Alnwick is famous for Alnwick Castle (the seat of the Percy family (Dukes of Northumberland)), a strategically important base in the wars between England and Scotland and the site of two battles of the period:
- In the first Battle of Alnwick (1093), Malcolm III, who was besieging the then Castle of Alnwick in the course of one of his many raids into England during the reign of William Rufus, was killed by a relieving army.
- At the second Battle of Alnwick (1174, in the reign of Henry I of England), William I 'the Lion', king of Scotland, in his second large raid into England, was surprised and captured by an army led by Ranulf Glanvill, which led to the English kings claiming lordship over Scotland.
- Don't confuse Alnwick with its homophone Anick, a village also in Northumberland. The name of that is derived from the personal name Anna, or 'Han' or 'Hamma', + wīc, so it is 'the farmstead [or dwelling] of Anna'.
- At the end of the river Aln, where it flows into the North Sea, lies the town of Alnmouth, with the same realization of the 'A-' as that in Alnwick and Ann: IPA: /'æln maʊθ/. (Locally, this has three syllables: 'Alan-mouth', /'æ lən maʊθ/). There is also a village called Alnham, meaning 'homestead on the river Aln', in Northumberland, near the source of the river