I was up here on Sunday as part of the Yeavering conference.
The day started with a visit to Maelmin which set the context of Yeavering bell being a sacred hill to the people of the neolithic. The Coupland henge being orientated towards the twin peaks of the Bell. Clive Waddington and Paul Frodsham explained how the Bell was the most nothern most hill of the Cheviot Massif and how it stood apart from the rest of the hills.
From Maelmin we were bussed to Ad Gefrin at the foot of the Bell. This is the site of King Edwins palace and the place where Paulinus converted and baptised the Northumbrians in the River Glen.
Following a look around the site we proceeded up the Bell via the tumble down barn known as the Old Palace which was probably a bastle.
The woodland on the north face of the Bell is last piece of ancient woodland in the national park.
Yeavering means place of the goats and you can still see wild goats and their kids chilling out in the valley below the footpath. As you follow the path around the back of the Bell you can see evidence of field systems with low walls still intact.
The Hillfort itself is huge, the stone walls, although collapsed, are still huge and completely encircle the twin summits for 950m enclosing an area of 13.5 acres. The walls in some places were 8m thick.
Once inside the fort there is evidence everywhere of hut circles, there are at least 125.
The eastern peak has a modern walkers cairn on top of it but there was originally a neolithic burial cairn on this site.
The views from this place are fantastic. The Millfield basin, the sandstone fells, the coastal plain and the Cheviots can all be seen in a wonderful panorama. We could see the crop marks of at least two of the Millfield Henges and aparently when the crop in the field at the foot the Bell is growing you can see the henge there too.
All in all a crackin' day and an excellent site.
Get yersel' there.
23-3-03. Walked up using the recommended route in the Tourist Info leaflet :-) Passed some wild mountain goats & kids (aw!!) and plenty of grouse, none of them famous. Got to the top and met 20 ramblers from Newcastle, which was nice.
After they'd gone, had the place to myself, tried to imagine a community up here. Felt a bit freaked out so instead tried to make out the outlines of the huts which had been here. The ground is so uneven with heather and tuffets of grass they are hard to see now. But it's easy to see why they chose this place to live.
The local geology is evident: pink granite against black peat soil. No point trying to carve Rock Art here; better going to Doddington / Weetwood / Old Bewick / Routin Linn...all within walking distance of here and made of much softer sandstone...
Yeavering Bell is the most prominent hill of the northern Cheviots
overlooking the Milfield basin and is topped by the biggest hillfort in Northumbria. It overlooks the crossroads of north-southand east-west routes. Gefrin was obviously positioned with this in mind -in view of and on trading routes, and closeby to the fertile land of the floodplain(but high enough not to be flooded). Although, as you'll see if you read the fieldnotes about Gefrin, the area is rich in Saxon Christian history, the area has been used and reused for millennia by Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age peoples.
Also I'd like to point out that feral goats clamber about on the hill.
National Park Archaeologists found 34 holes at the site made by metal detectorists (hiss).
Dr. Rob Young, the National Park Archaeologist, said: ‘This represents a serious and worrying development in the National Park. Such damage has never occurred on this scale before. The Police and English Heritage have been informed. The activity is highly illegal as the site is an ancient monument protected by law. The culprits could be liable for up to two years imprisonment and an unlimited fine when they are caught and they would also probably be charged with the theft of the objects that they took away.’
‘Ancient monuments may look pretty substantial, but each one is unique and they represent a fragile resource which action like this damages irreparably. Objects removed from any archaeological site in this kind of uncontrolled way lose all of their historic value as we have no understanding of precisely where on the site they have come from.'