22 August 2012
First Kirknewton Archaeology Festival
In the first week of September 2012, the tiny village of Kirknewton in North Northumberland will be making a big statement about its importance in the tide of history.
You would be forgiven for wondering what this tranquil, rural community, tucked into the lee of the Cheviots by the River Glen between Wooler and Coldstream could possibly have to say, but the truth is this is one of the richest and most significant historic landscapes in England, as well as being one of the most beautiful.
Neolithic henges, Bronze Age burial sites and Iron Age hillforts; the Royal capital of the Anglo Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria at Gefrin; sites of the bitter mediaeval battles between England and Scotland; home of Nelson’s right hand man, Admiral Collingwood; the northern hills and valleys of the Cheviots and Glendale around Kirknewton have them all.
Organised by National Park volunteers working closely with local people, this festival opens the door to archaeology for interested adults and children by offering a host of free events. A special exhibition over the weekend with demonstrations of historic pottery, spinning, weaving and dyeing is coupled with a week-long programme of walks and talks to many of the important sites in the area, brought to life by the knowledge and passion of knowledgeable archaeologists and historians. (Download the programme).
The Kirknewton Archaeology Festival Week was the idea of two Northumberland National Park Voluntary Rangers; Ann Logan and Brian Rogers. They offered a programme of short walks at Kirknewton in 2008 which was well received and after the recent review of the Kirknewton Conservation Area Plan were encouraged to resume and develop this work. Kirknewton is the only Conservation Area in Northumberland National Park and was created in 1996 to protect and enhance the special architectural and historical interest of the area.
Working in partnership with the National Park archaeologist Chris Jones, the County archaeologist Chris Burgess, Roger Miket from the Gefrin Trust and the Kirknewton village hall committee, they set about creating a week-long festival of walks, talks, information and visits, to highlight the history and archaeology surrounding the beautiful area and based in the village of Kirknewton.
“We both love this north end of the Cheviots and seek to help Northumberland National Park raise the profile of this area of world class archaeology by showing and explaining it to visitors, while supporting this small local community and the archaeological networks in North Northumberland and the Borders”, said Ann.
Ann has been a voluntary Ranger for nine years and Brian nearly eight years. In 2009 they both completed a three year course, ‘Volunteering in Conservation and Heritage’ run jointly by Northumberland National Park and the University of Sunderland.
“We wanted to offer free, interesting guided walks to the public that would broaden their knowledge of all the lumps and bumps that are everywhere in this landscape and are passed by some walkers without even a second glance. These scars are the remains of people’s lifestyles from as long ago as 5000 years. The down side for some people is that a great number of the sites are on high ground and without helicopter access the only way to see them is on foot. That is why a number of the walks are graded strenuous”, said Brian.
As not everyone interested is able to undertake the walks, Ann and Brian have arranged an evening ‘talks’ programme and invited eminent archaeologists and historians to educate and entertain. There is no charge for the talks which will take place at Kirknewton village hall each weekday night at 7.30pm, except Tuesday, when the venue is The Cheviot Centre in Wooler, where because of limited seating, those wishing to attend must ring: 01434 605555 to book a place.
Chris Jones, Historic Environment Officer for Northumberland National Park Authority, who has supported the festival alongside Northumberland County Council and the Gefrin Trust, said: “We are delighted to be able to support this festival, which shines a spotlight on the amazing archaeology and heritage packed into this gem of an area in the National Park. The North Cheviots are very distinctive and a great source of pride for local people, and we hope this excellent event will encourage other communities to promote their local heritage."
For further information, please contact the organisers: Ann Logan - 0191 284 2235 or Brian Rogers - 01668 219 829.