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You may find this relevant information helpful when researching the area prior to your visit

Evidence of human activity within Northumberland goes back at least 8,000 years. At this time the people were nomadic. They did not build permanent houses or erect monuments to their dead, but traveled across the land gathering plants and vegetables and following the herds of deer which were a source of food. Animal skin would have been used for tents and clothing whilst tools would have been from bones, stone or flint. Sometimes these ancient tools can still be found in rock shelters and caves. It was not until people started to farm and to herd animals that they constructed their permanent homes and elaborate religious and funeral monuments. In Northumberland, the earliest monuments are about 5,000 years old and they include:

Cup and Ring Marks

These ancient markings may be found on exposed rock faces in the northern hills. They usually involve cup shaped depressions surrounded by concentric circles, joined by grooves. One of the most dramatic sites is at Lordenshaw, signposted off the B6342, 3 miles south of Rothbury. Possibly as old as 5,000 years, these marks would have required great patience and skill to chisel into the rock but today their meaning has been lost in the mists of time. They have nonetheless attracted a great deal of attention from modern mystics believing in earth magic. Other good sites for Cup and Ring marks are the high moors such as Weetwood and Fowberry which lie between Wooler and the coast.

Stone Circles

Thought to have primarily religious origins from some 4,000 years ago, sometimes these circles are combined with ancient burial sites. Amongst the most interesting in Northumberland are the Hethpool Stone Circle in the College Valley (northern Cheviots), and the Three Kings Stone Circle near Byrness in Redesdale. Both are in the Northumberland National Park. The Stob Stone near Matfen is a striking example of a single standing stone.

Burial Cairns

There are many remains of these cairns in Northumberland which formed the focus of religious and funery activities some 3,500 years ago. Initially bodies were buried in stone cists and were accompanied by gifts for the afterlife. A particularly good example may be found at Blaerwearie, near Old Bewick, some 10 miles north west of Alnwick.

Hill Forts

Dating back to some 2,500 years ago, these iron age forts consist of stone ramparts which encircle the crest of a rounded hill within which stone or wood dwellings would have been constructed. Good examples which are accessible for visitors include Yeavering Bell, near Wooler; Brough Law in the Breamish Valley, near Ingram; Ros Castle, near Chillingham; and Lordenshaw Fort near Rothbury.

Later Archaeological Treasures

Northumberland is one of the richest areas of Britain for its archaeological treasures. In addition to the pre-historic monuments described here, other major sites include Hadrian's Wall, the County's many castles and fortified buildings, country houses and the remains of its Christian and Industrial Heritage.

Archaeological Reconstructions

There are several excellent sites in the County which present archaeological reconstructions:

At Dunstan Hill, not far from Embleton on the Northumberland coast, an "iron age" dwelling has been rebuilt, close to some remaining ramparts. The dwelling is made from wood, heather, cow dung, mud, stones, straw and binder twine. Brigantium on the A68 at Rochester is an archeological centre with reconstructions of a Romano-British farm and round house; a Mesolithic hunting camp and rock shelter; Roman defences and a Roman road; and a bronze age burial and stone circle.
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John Haswell, 2 Palace Street East, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland TD15 1HT
Tel: 01289 304492    Mob: 07866 094097