Festival celebrates the stunning archaeology and walking country of Northumberland

Kirknewton festival this weekend explores ancient landscape of iron age hill forts, monasteries and palaces

Brian Rogers
Kirknewton Archaeology Weekend 15th - 17th August 2014: Yeavering Bell. Pics sent via email brianrogers.uk@gmail.com

A festival celebrating the stunning archaeology and walking country of one of Northumberland’s remotest corners opens on Friday.

The event at the Cheviot village of Kirknewton, near Wooler. has been organised by Brian Rogers and Ann Logan, two volunteers with Northumberland National Park.

They discovered a mutual love of the area when they met on a national park training course and in 2008 they began leading walks from Kirknewton.

The archaeology festival runs today, Saturday and Sunday and the Kirknewton Walking Week will start on Sunday August 31 until September 5.

“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 at the same time providing support for a small local community,” said Ann.

Both are keen walkers and want to help others become more familiar with local routes to increase their enjoyment and their confidence in exploring the landscape.

Brian Rogers Kirknewton Church
Kirknewton Church

The focus of this weekend is on the archaeology and early history of the area. On each of the three days there will be a walk, led by an archaeologist, to a local Iron Age hill fort from Kirknewton Village Hall.

Hill forts to be visited will be West Hill and St Gregory’s Hill at 2pm on Friday and 12.30pm on Sunday and Yeavering Bell at 1pm on Saturday.

An archaeologist will also lead a visit on each of the three days to the ancient palace site at Gefrin, at the foot of Yeavering Bell.

Transport is provided from Kirknewton Village Hall at 11.30am on Friday and Sunday and 11am. on Saturday.

Yeavering Bell, with its double crown encircled by stone ramparts, was the largest hill fort in Northumberland, enclosing over 125 house platforms.

Yeavering takes its name from the Celtic Gefrin, meaning Hill of the Goats.

In the Sixth Century Gefrin, near the foot of Yeavering Bell, became a royal palace site. A reconstruction of its timber amphitheatre as been created at Bede’s World in Jarrow. .

In Kirknewton Village Hall there will be an exhibition relating to the Gefrin site and some of the artefacts which have been excavated.

Brian Rogers Graham Taylor firing pots
Graham Taylor firing pots

Outside the hall there will be demonstrations by Graham Taylor, Paula and David Constantine of historic crafts including potting, textiles, wood and horn working.

The village hall committee will be serving refreshments during all three days.

The church of St Gregory the Great in the village is the location for two evening talks.

On Friday archaeologist Max Adams will talk at 7pm about King Oswald’s Northumbria and on Saturday at 7pm “Cows, books and estate organisation in early Northumbrian Monasteries” is the theme for archaeologist Colm O’Brien.

There will also be a literature course on Border Ballads on Saturday at 1pm, led by Richard Moore. The cost is £10. Booking on 01668 282123.

Sunday is also the day of the Kirknewton sheepdog trials.

The second part of the festival is the Kirknewton Walking Week, exploring the Kirknewton and Wooler areas, the College Valley and the Harthope Valley.

There will be two free walks on each of the six days with most being led by Northumberland National Park voluntary rangers.


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