Archaeological dig planned at Barmoor Castle

Archaeologist John Nolan and Barmoor Park owner Ann Lamb prepare for the dig at Barmoor Castle.

Archaeologist John Nolan and Barmoor Park owner Ann Lamb prepare for the dig at Barmoor Castle.

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Owners at Barmoor holiday park will be digging into the past with the help of consultant archaeologist John Nolan.

The day of the dig, Saturday July 12, also marks the start of National Archaeology Week.

The dig at Barmoor, halfway between the Cheviot Hills and the north Northumberland coast, has been eagerly anticipated by home owners at the park, many of whom have been fascinated by the history of this area ever since they bought lodges and caravans there, five, ten or even 20 years ago.

In fact, so enthusiastic have residents been that numbers taking part have had to be limited in order to ensure the dig can be conducted as carefully as possible.

In the past, lodge and caravan owners here have found mediaeval coins, weapons and items of jewellery at Barmoor Country Park with the help of metal detectors.

It is hoped that this dig will shed more light on the life and times of people who lived here through the centuries and on the many soldiers, English and Scottish, who passed through this route on their way to and from battle.

Archaeologist John Nolan explains: “Barmoor Castle and estate has a long and fascinating history and we may find a range of domestic and military objects.

“Since at least the 13th century, Barmoor was on a main north-south route for Scottish and English armies, drovers and travellers, and was a prosperous settlement. Early records show that in 1291, Edward 1 stayed at Barmoor on his way to Scotland.

“A tower was built in 1341, parts of which survive in the present Castle, and the Earl of Surrey who led the English Army at Flodden in 1513 probably stayed overnight at the tower before the battle.

“Barmoor Castle has gone through various alterations, including a major rebuild in 1801-4 and several changes of ownership including a branch of the Sitwell family (of poet Edith Sitwell fame), who lived at Barmoor for over 200 years. It is an important building encapsulating centuries of Northumbrian history, from defence against Border violence to grand Georgian country house.

“Barmoor Castle’s current owners Ann and Jamie Lamb, who also own Barmoor Country Park, have ensured that, although unoccupied, it is kept weather-tight. However restoration will be costly and they are awaiting the outcome of an English Heritage conservation study which will determine the Castle’s fate.”

The Lamb family initially bought 12 acres at Barmoor in 1979 and spent 11 years landscaping and renovating the site before opening the Country Park in 1990. The family has lived and worked on site at Barmoor Castle Country Park for the last 24 years.

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