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5 May 2009
Historians told of Neolithic finds in Northumberland

New Thoughts on Ancient Northumberland was the title of Paul Frodsham's lecture at Morpeth Antiquarian Society. Mr Frodsham was the Northumberland National Park archaeologist for 15 years until 2007. His talk concentrated on a small but incredibly rich area of the Breamish valley on and around Ingram Farm, where amazing archaeology has survived years of agricultural work. Twelve years of research from 1994 revealed evidence of occupation from the Neolithic to the present-day.
     The work was done by more than 400 diggers, including staff and students from Durham University, amateurs and professionals from the Northumberland Archaeological Group, and other experts. The oldest finds were a perfect Neolithic arrowhead, perhaps 5,000 or 6,000 years old, and a cup and ring marked boulder, both of which can be seen at the Ingram Information Centre. Bronze Age cairns were discovered, sometimes by accident, and excavated. One contained a burial cist and several cremations, some in exceptionally beautiful pottery jars. Three different types of cairns were examined, two were standard circular cairns, though one had an oval ring of stones around it, which apparently pointed at Simonside. The third was of the much rarer and little understood tri-radial design.
     Several circular houses were excavated, one was certainly from the Bronze Age, but the majority were much younger, from around the late Iron Age. Associated with these round Iron Age houses were two hill forts, on Brough Law and Wether Hill, both dated from about 230 BCE. Also associated with these houses and hill forts were several terraces. Several exciting discoveries were made by accident, while digging other features, including an extremely rare Bronze Age oak coffin. The Bronze Age house was another accidental discovery. Not all the archaeology has been written up yet, as the scientific research is ongoing, but much of it and several of the finds can be seen at the Ingram Information Centre, which has just reopened for the Summer season.

Source: Morpeth Herald (3 May 2009)

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