Yeavering Bell Conference / Northumberland Hillforts Project
Yeavering Bell Conference
A national conference will be held next month to examine Yeavering Bell, the biggest and most spectacular hill fort in Northumberland.
The fort, on the edge of the Cheviots, protected at least 130 roundhouses and was occupied for around at least 500 years.
There are still places available for the conference on March 29-30 at Bede's World in Jarrow and bookings should be made by February 20 by contacting Paul Frodsham on (01434) 611509.
The event will also look at the Seventh Century palace site of King Edwin, which is overlooked by Yeavering Bell, and the prehistoric henge landscape of the nearby Milfield plain.
"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for local people to listen to experts discussing all aspects of Yeavering from early prehistory until medieval times. It is an event not to be missed by anyone with an interest in Northumberland heritage," said Paul.
An unspoilt Northumbrian valley has been hailed as one of the finest ancient landscapes in Europe. In July the final excavation in a 10-year series will start in the Breamish Valley as part of a programme of discovery spanning 10,000 years. The wealth of finds and knowledge gained has stunned experts from Durham University, Northumberland Archaeology Group and Northumberland National Park who have been partners in the project.
"We knew when we started that it was a special landscape. Although we have only scratched the surface in a few tiny places we can now say that it is unsurpassed in interest throughout Europe," said national park archaeologist Paul Frodsham. "There is nothing better in Europe. We will never know the full story because of a jigsaw of 1,000 pieces we now have only about two."
The venture has unearthed Bronze Age burial cairns of around 4,000 years ago on Turf Knowe, overlooking the valley, which contained five intact cremation urns now being examined at Durham. The burial site itself used what had been a summer hunting camp for Stone Age people from 7,000 years ago. Archaeologists have also looked at three of the valley's 12 hill forts. Brough Law fort has been dated to 300BC while at Wether Hill it has been found that a stone and earth fort replaced an earlier timber palisade stronghold.
Experts believe that as the climate became colder and wetter from 1,200BC, the hundreds of people who were then living in the valley stopped putting effort into ceremonial burial places and began building forts instead.
"Some agricultural land would have gone out of use because of the deterioration in the climate and cattle became the new wealth. The situation would not be dissimilar to the times of the Border Reivers with cattle being driven into the hill forts in times of danger," said Paul.
The national park's £1m Discovering Our Hillfort Heritage project has also been granted a two-year extension until 2004. It is evaluating the 50 or so forts in the park and this spring leaflets outlining trails to ancient settlements in the College Valley, Breamish Valley, Humbleton Hill, Lordenshaws, Kirknewton and Yeavering will be available so that the public can enjoy the area's prehistoric heritage at first hand.
Posted by Rhiannon
6th February 2003ce