Many options in Berwick for Heritage Open Days

There is a last chance to view the current phase of the ongoing archaeological dig at Berwick Infirmary later this week as the town’s Heritage Open Days get underway.

Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 1:10 pm
Bari Bear is the Berwick Heritage Open Days mascot. Picture by Siobhan Bankier.

The programme this year will run from Friday, September 10 to Sunday, September 19 – with more than 40 events, in person and online, taking place across Berwick, Spittal and Tweedmouth.

It comes as organisers mark the 30th anniversary of Berwick in 1991 becoming the first town in England to take part in what then became Heritage Open Days in 1994.

Plus, it coincides with the final opportunity to access the viewing platform that looks onto the excavation, which is taking place as part of the major project to build a new £30million state-of-the-art hospital.

Archaeological dig work at the Berwick Infirmary site.

Between 10am and 2pm on Friday (September 10), members of the public will be able to view the on-going archaeological works, ask questions of the archaeologists and view some of the artefacts recovered during the excavations.

Other options available for Heritage Open Days include guided walks, exhibitions, open buildings, quizzes and online talks.

Everything is free to attend. Booking is required for the guided walks and online events.

A spokeswoman for the Berwick team said: “After all the disruption of 2020, we were determined to run a varied programme of both online and in person events in the town highlighting Berwick's amazing heritage.

The Gunpowder Magazine is one of the venues.

“We've even added a few more venues and events for everyone to enjoy, and are holding far more events than any other town in Northumberland.”

Northern Archaeological Associates, working on behalf of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, has been working on the current area at Berwick Infirmary since the spring and will now be moving elsewhere on the site.

A range of artefacts has been found, including pottery and fish bones, alongside a large cobbled area, all of which are helping to paint a picture of domestic life in the town during the 12th and 13th centuries.

The spokeswoman for Berwick Heritage Open Days added: “Given that we are celebrating our 30th anniversary this year, it seems appropriate that the HODs programme will be kicked-off by looking back more than 900 years to an interesting point in the history of Berwick – when it was already an important and thriving settlement, but one yet to be enclosed within the Medieval town walls and later Elizabethan defences.”

To access the site, walk up Low Greens from Violet Terrace and the entrance gate is on the left-hand side.

As part of the new hospital project, demolition of parts of the infirmary, originally built in 1874, started early in the summer. It is taking place in a methodical sequence on account of the archaeological work.

For the full programme and booking links, go to www.berwickhods.org.uk