Drove roads: The June meeting of Lesbury WI was opened by our president Val Brooks, returning from her recent hospitalisation. She welcomed everyone and then thanked all the many well-wishers for their support and kind wishes during this trying time. We then moved on to address the institute’s business before we commenced with the main event of the evening.
The evening’s guest speaker was Dr Ian Roberts, a local archaeologist, who was to give an extremely informative and interesting talk about the old drove roads.
With exception to those members from farming backgrounds, most of us had little or no idea of the huge importance droving has had in shaping farming practice and thus the economy of Northumberland for the past 1,000 years.
The necessity of transporting sheep and cattle has changed the landscape, developing roads and buildings with animals being herded from as far afield as Scotland and Ireland in times gone past.
Today, with mechanised and rapid transport the scene is very different, but the legacy of the drovers can still be seen and enjoyed all over the region.
Ian, along with fellow local archaeologists Alan Rushworth and Richard Carlton, are determined to preserve this history on behalf of the Northumberland National Park Authority.
Documenting the development of droving from prehistoric times, through the Middle Ages, the 18th century and right up to the current day, they are compiling a definitive history showing the socio-economic impact of the practice on Northumberland.
After refreshments Muriel Prior, who had accompanied our representative Meg Irwin to the annual general meeting of the NFWI held at the Royal Albert Hall in London on May 30, gave Meg’s report in her absence, where the speakers had been Lord Fellowes and astronomer Dr Maggie Aderin Pocock.
Continuing the ovine theme, the monthly competition was a sheep (any medium), there was no bleating about the eventual outcome with Brenda Ord, scooping first, Molly Fairbairn second and Elaine Foreman third.
With the evening drawing to a close, reminders were given about the forthcoming flower and craft festival in August to celebrate Lesbury WI’s 90th birthday and that our next meeting is on Tuesday, July 10. This will be an evening with Barbara Thompson. Don’t forget to bring scissors and glasses (if needed) and the monthly competition is a pair of scissors.