Glendale Local History Society

Glendale Local History Society members’ imaginations were challenged to visualise scenes of ancient British life while being guided by Sarah Wilson (author of Reflections: The Breamish Valley and Ingram) on a six-mile circuit, seeing some of the many prehistoric remains on her family farm at Ingram.

She said that the entire farm has been designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument because of its outstanding number of archaeological sites, with evidence of occupation dating from the Bronze Age, through the Roman period to the medieval era.

As an introduction, we preceded our walk with a look at the superb collection of ancient earthenware pots and other artefacts discovered during archaeological excavations relatively recently.

They were beautifully displayed at the Northumberland National Park Visitor Centre at Ingram.

It was indeed a privilege to view these treasured objects, having being told that, out of season, these return to Durham University for archived storage and that the centre is scheduled to close down at the end of this season.

We took a gentle ascent to Wether Hill, while Sarah pointed out an area likely to have been occupied by the Romans.

A Roman coin was found there and at an adjacent site.

She was able to give us first-hand information of the excavations which had taken place in this area between 1994 and 2002.

As we approached Wether Hill we passed an area where two distinct enclosures had been discovered: A square one, impacting upon an earlier, round feature.

Wether Hill itself held the remains of a hillfort, with signs of ancient roundhouses, as did Cochrane Pike.

These hill sites gave magnificent, all-encompassing views of this very special untouched area of Northumberland and towards the significant Simonside settlements.

From here too, we could clearly see the ramparts of the Middle Dean hillfort ─ our next destination and picnic-lunch stop ─ where we could speculate on the chosen position as we viewed the deep ravine below.

Not wanting to delay for too long (it was a day of sunshine and showers) we set off to Turf Knowe.

This is where the excavation of a much older Bronze Age burial cairn had revealed two cists – which are chambers for cremated human remains – and the site of the now famous food urn of the Beaker People.

This had held the remains of an infant and we had viewed it earlier at the Visitor Centre.

Nearby, we discussed the speculation as to whether the tri-radial cairn, a three armed structure, was of prehistoric origin, or was a later sheep shelter.

Our final leg took us to Brough Law, ─ a spectacular hillfort with clearly defined walls of stone and inner hut circles.

From here we descended via ancient cultivation terraces, many more of which had been evident in the wider area from the higher altitudes.

Throughout the walk, we marvelled at the superb views and the ever-changing skyscape.

We noted the wild flowers, including thyme, birdsfoot trefoil, cuckoo flower and heather bedstraw, and the birds _ curlew, skylark, meadow pipit and willow warbler.

And, not surprisingly since this was a working farm, we also heard of farming projects and activities, notably the natural control of bracken on this organic farm.

Our trip ended with welcome mugs of tea and chocolate cake.

The day will have inspired many of us to return to this remarkable area.

Thank you Sarah!