From the hunters and gatherers of prehistory to the miner-farmers of the 19th century, human communities have continually left their mark on the historic environment of the North Pennines.
Compared with other upland areas of northern England, the North Pennines has been relatively little studied by archaeologists. Altogether Archaeology was the first project designed to study the North Pennines as an area in its own right.
The North Pennines AONB Partnership’s Altogether Archaeology project brought together professional archaeologists (including Time Team’s Stewart Ainsworth) and up to 500 volunteers to focus research on the historic environment of the North Pennines, while paying due regard to relationships with adjacent areas and its position at the heart of Britain.
This was an exciting time to be involved in the exploration of such a previously uninvestigated area and the project generated much national media interest. Here are some examples of our work:
There have been some tantalising finds from this relatively ignored area that are comparable with other major discoveries of international interest.
In 1935 a gold ear-ring, one of the earliest gold objects in England (2,400BC) was discovered within the North Pennines AONB at Kirkhaugh. As one of only 12 such ‘ear-rings’ ever found in the UK – the most famous being part of the burial goods of the Amesbury Archer near Stonehenge – this extraordinary gold object provides an intriguing prospect of what else may be discovered.
The North Pennines AONB Partnership’s Altogether Archaeology project seeks to build on the findings of Maryon (1936) by investigating the landscape further and by applying relatively new interpretation to the site in order to understand the significance of links with the Amesbury Archer and others.
In addition, we have carried out initial evaluation of a coffin discovered during drainage work at Wydon Eals on Featherstone Castle Estate in 1825. Carbon dating revealed that the coffins are from the same period as St. Cuthbert and are potentially the last pagan burials in the area. The North Pennines AONB Partnership’s Altogether Archaeology project wants to explore how the burials relate to the birth of Christianity and the Lindisfarne community.