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A mysterious love story carved in stone

9th February 2017

With the most romantic day of the year approaching, this Valentine’s Day Northumberland National Park is calling on members of the public to help them solve a mystery surrounding a marriage proposal carved into an ancient rock on Simonside in Rothbury.

The Proposal Stone

The Proposal Stone at Simonside.

Dubbed ‘The Proposal Stone’, folklore has it that a young suitor carved his proposal of marriage into the stone and took his beloved there to pop the question in a truly magnificent setting. Some say it dates back to the 1920s but the truth is nobody seems to know its origins or the lovers associated with it.

The proposal is carved discreetly into the stone at the side of the trail which leads to Simonside’s iconic rocky ridge with fantastic views overlooking the River Coquet and Cheviot Hills. The lover’s inscription simply reads: Will you marry me? with the initials K and J.

Fast forward to the present day, and the special location remains a source of inspiration and romance. Last year the acclaimed English poet Simon Armitage wrote a poem centred around the mystery as part of a collection of six new poems inspired by hidden places which span the length and breadth of Northumberland National Park.

The poems are unique as they have not been published and only exist as voice recordings. To experience them, visitors should download the ‘Poems in the Air’ mobile app at www.poemsintheair.co.uk . They will then be able to activate the recordings on their mobile phone or tablet once they’ve arrived at each poem’s specific location. The reward for making the effort is to hear the poem spoken by Simon in the very location that inspired him, a truly unique moment which feels personal and special.

Simon Armitage at The Proposal Stone.

Mandy Roberts, Northumberland National Park Engagement Officer, explains: “The mystery of The Proposal Stone inscription is one we’ve never been able to solve. It’s such a romantic gesture which has stood the test of time and continues to spark the imagination of people who discover it today whether it’s quite by accident, word of mouth or through Simon’s poetry.

“We’d love to hear from anyone if they have information on the origins of the inscription and who the couple behind it might be. We’d also like people to get in touch if the stone and beauty of Simonside has inspired them or someone they know to pop the question to their intended.”

Poems in the Air was commissioned in partnership with Arts Council England as part of Northumberland National Park’s Art programme connected to The Sill: National Landscape Discovery Centre at Once Brewed which opens to the public this summer.

The Sill is an all-weather facility offering a year-round programme of events, exhibitions and activities connected to the National Park’s landscapes, history, heritage and communities. The £14.8 million project, which has been partially funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), is designed to open up the countryside of the National Park and surrounding areas to a broad range of new people in new and innovative ways.

It will also provide an exceptionally unique venue in the North East to host weddings and corporate events. For romantics out there thinking of tying the knot, Northumberland National Park will be launching a competition to win a wedding at The Sill later this year.

Mandy adds: “The Sill is adjacent to Hadrian’s Wall, the most visited area of our National Park. The state-of-the-art building, whilst still under construction, has been designed to mirror and connect the surrounding landscape. It will be an amazing and unforgettable location for a wedding with its 360 degree views and roof terrace.”

If you have an interesting story about The Proposal Stone at Simonside or any information connected to its history, please contact: rosie.thomas@nnpa.org.uk.

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