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The Bowden Doors

Natural Rock Feature

<b>The Bowden Doors</b>Posted by HobImage © IH
Nearest Town:Berwick-Upon-Tweed (22km NNW)
OS Ref (GB):   NU072324 / Sheet: 75
Latitude:55° 35' 6.21" N
Longitude:   1° 53' 8.76" W

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<b>The Bowden Doors</b>Posted by Hob <b>The Bowden Doors</b>Posted by Hob <b>The Bowden Doors</b>Posted by Hob <b>The Bowden Doors</b>Posted by Hob <b>The Bowden Doors</b>Posted by Hob <b>The Bowden Doors</b>Posted by Hob <b>The Bowden Doors</b>Posted by Hob


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The Bowden Doors are a double ridge of cliffs on the NE side of the Till valley. They run roughly SSW to NNW and are quite visible from many (if not all) of the main panels of rock art in the area. In particular, they may have some sort of bearing on the slightly odd placement of the stone circle at Doddington Moor.

Almost every other ridge in the area has rock art, yet this prominent and eminently suitable outcrop seems to have none. This, and the unusual nature of it's contours on the map, originally drew my attention to this site.

It's suitability for inclusion on TMA is a bit tenuous, but is provenanced by the finding of mesolithic artifacts at the base of the upper cliff. It could be classified as a rock shelter, as there are a number of spots along the ridges that would fit the bill perfectly, however pinpointing them isn't yet possible, as no excavations have been done (and it would seem a lessening of the sense of place were this to happen). Even a quick visit here is sufficient to appreciate it's suitability as a site for hunter-gatherer types. It's nicely sheltered, yet strangely manages to also afford excellent views over the both Cheviot to the west, and east to the coast, in particular to Lindisfarne and Bamburgh. The ridges also overlook bucketloads of rock art sites.

The place also has some of the finest crazy rock weathering I've yet seen in Northumberland, with unusual features including a gigantic 'cup-mark' and a strange 'pulpit' feature, as well as some of the strange vein-like patterns seen in the cave below Dod Law. 'Tis very special place, with a powerful sense of presence.

The cliffs have been popular with climbers, and some of these have told me that there was once an excavation of some mounds which found remains of burials. I've searched and searched, but haven't yet found any references to this.

The other possible point of interest (from a megalithic perspective), is the fluted outcrop at Raven Crag, just in front of the lower ridge. This natural feature is very conspicuous, and in my mind makes the place a possible candidate for a quarry site for some of the fluted standing stones which are found in this bit of Northumberland, such as Duddo circle. It is stretching things a tad to suggest that the stones of Duddo may have come from The Bowden Doors, but the Raven Crag outcrop gives a nice example of what the standing stones may have looked like before they were quarried for use in monuments.
Hob Posted by Hob
14th September 2005ce


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There is a tale of an otherworldly being known as a 'Dunnie', who haunted the area between here and Chatton, who was often heard at night lamenting the fact that he could not return to the realm from which he came,

"Ah've lost the key to the Bowden Doors, Alas I'll ne'er gan hame nae more..."

A couple of versions of this tale are kicking about, at least one of which links the Dunnie to the spirit of a Border Reiver, but the one relating it directly to The Bowden doors seems to be the oldest, dredged from 'The Denham Tracts'.
Hob Posted by Hob
14th September 2005ce


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Open Library

Volume 2 of the Folklore Society's printing of the Denham Tracts - the Hazelrigg Dunnie features between p157 and 163.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
1st February 2010ce

Keys To The Past Entry - Mesolithic Flint Finds

mascot Posted by mascot
19th September 2009ce