Restoration bid for Northumberland medieval monument

A medieval monument celebrating a bloody clash between English and Scottish forces is in line for an overhaul, thanks to a major lottery grant.

By James Harrison
Monday, 2nd August 2021, 11:28 am
Percy’s Cross, near Otterburn.
Percy’s Cross, near Otterburn.

Plans have been submitted to Northumberland County Council proposing a series of improvements at the site of Percy’s Cross, near Otterburn.

As well as restoring the pillar to its former glory, heritage experts also hope to attract more visitors to the site, with a revamped car park.

Karen Collins, heritage and engagement officer at the Revitalising Redesdale project, said: “We’re renovating the Percy’s Cross site to create a more appealing place for people to visit.

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“By revamping the car park area, the footpath and by putting in new information boards and picnic benches, we will create a beautiful place for people to visit where they can spend time surrounded by nature, culture and heritage.

“It is our aim to improve the overall look and feel of the area for those living in the local community and attract new visitors to Redesdale.

“We’re also investigating the battle site by carrying out fieldwork in the coming weeks and we hope to use this research to inform the new information boards at the site.”

According to papers submitted to the county council, the current site, north west Otterburn on the A696, is already a popular spot, but it is hoped the plans to add six parking spaces and replace picnic tables will tempt even more visitors.

The monument, described as a ‘stone obelisk mounted on stone steps’, commemorates the 1388 Battle of Otterburn, in which Henry Percy, oldest son of the then Earl of Northumberland, unsuccessfully attacked a Scottish raiding party led by the Earl of Douglas.

The incursion saw invading troops reach as far south as Durham, with fighting also taking place around the walls of Newcastle.

Percy, also known as Hotspur, was later immortalised in Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, as one of the leaders in a rebellion against the titular king.

Only one part of the cross is believed to survive from the original – a stone collar which is believed to once have been a lintel in the kitchens at Otterburn Tower.

Even the current location is different, after it was moved in the 18th century to make way for the Otterburn – Carter Bar turnpike.

The scheme is part of the Revitalising Redesdale project, a £2.8million Landscape Partnership Scheme funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Public consultation on the proposals is now open and comments on the application can be submitted to the county council until Thursday, August 19.

James Harrison, Local Democracy Reporting Service