Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Ad Gefrin and Yeavering Bell, Northumberland

Some people have called Yeavering Bell a slightly strenuous walk, however, I believe this only applies if you are a fully fit hill walker who just happens to be part mountain goat.  For myself, who I consider to be of average fitness, when I was half way up the hillside, could see the benefits of a doctor, paramedic, oxygen and alcohol (not necessarily in that order).  It is easy to see the advantage of Yeavering Bell as a stronghold as any attacker wouldn’t have the energy to fight once they reach the summit.  However lets begin…..

Ad Gefrin literally translates as ‘at the hill of goats’ and was The Royal Township of the 7thCentury Anglo Saxon Kings of Northumbria. It features in Bede’s Ecclesiastical History as the centre of Bishop Paulinus’ mission to the Bernician kingdom, where the saint accompanied the Northumbrian king Edwin and his queen AEthelburgis and is said to have baptised the local population in AD 627. Ad Gefrin was subject to a major excavation by Brian Hope-Taylor 1952-1962. Conclusions drawn from the excavations showed the complex contained a great defended or enclosed meeting place with adjacent halls and a timber built arena.

Ad Gefrin was the inland counterpart to the coastal fortress of Bamburgh. Although Bamburgh remained as a principle political stronghold Ad Gefrin was eventually replaced by a new, more enclosed site, Maelmin, approximately 4 km further north.  Ad Gefrin is now remembered by a plaque situated on the B6351, approximately 5 miles to the west of Wooler. This is the best place to park a car and start to walk.

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