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 19. Kirknewton Church, a Cheviots Hillfort Walk in Northumberland

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We stayed in one of the 'solid' and yet attractive old railway stone cottages at Mindrum (shown above) a few miles from Kirknewton which we set out to explore.

Kirknewton village is 6 miles west of Wooler and 17 miles south west of Berwick-upon-Tweed. Kirknewton was the centre of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria, with a royal palace and council chambers to be found here. The site is marked by a plaque on the Kirknewton to Wooler road but there is nothing else to be seen?. The Anglican church of St. Gregory the Great is shown below, though a Christian worship has taken place on the site since the eleventh century.  Kirknewton was a haven in troublesome times, but was reduced to ruins during the border warfare. Kirknewton has traditionally been shepherd's country, but this has declined through the twentieth century. Gamekeeping and tourism are becoming more commonplace in this beautiful part of the county, with walking, gliding and caravanning the most popular pursuits and there is an excellent historic hillfort walk from the church - get a leaflet from the Village Hall and this walk is illustrated further down the page.

St Gregory's Church in the tiny village of Kirknewton. First mentioned as 'St Gregory' in 1223 which refers to "The Vicar of the Church of St Gregory in Newton in Glendale". The first incumbent is named as Stephan who was priest here from 1153 to 1197.

 

There are several lovely Rowan Trees (Mountain Ash) in the graveyard.

 

Rather a nice 'delicate' fern on the stone wall by the graveyard.

In Kirknewton Village Hall, just across the road from the church, you can pick up a free leaflet guide to the Kirknewton Hillfort Trail and these pictures illustrate the work before returning to explore the church.

 

The fields and low hills to the east of the hamlet of Kirknewton.

 

Heading east passed the old shepherd's cottage above Kirknewton.

 

The fields and hills north of Kirknewton.

 

Heading in south to the west of West Hill.

 

Looking north to the low hills beyond Kirknewton, now so peaceful but one turbulent violence was common via the Border Wars between England and Scotland and of course the odd bit raiding by whoever!

 

looking south.

 

Looking west.

 

The scant remains of a ruined cottage above Torleehouse (tip of it on the left!).

 

Looking east from the southern slope of West Hill towards the symmetrical hill of Yeavering Bell on which one of the greatest hillforts is found.

 

The defence rings of earth and stones of the Iron Age hillfort on West Hill above Kirknewton.

 

The gap in the earthworks on West Hill which is considered as a Romano-British enclose.

 

Stones embedded in the circular earthwork defences.

 

The defensive ring of the iron age fort structure.

 

The cairn on the top of West Hill - those Ancient Britons liked to be well defended and a good view too, and so do we!

 

Looking down on the traces of the settlement structures on the north-east side of West Hill.

 

Looking east from West Hill to St Gregory's Hill where you can plainly see the defensive earthworks i.e. the ramparts of another hillfort and Roman-British settlement.

 

The convergence of sheep through a gate near Torleehouse Farm and their emergence in the next field!

 

A circle of earth and stone that was once the base of a timber round house

 

Looking down on Kirknewton Village from the hillfort on St Gregory's Hill.

 

View of the church from the hill forts above the village - not changed that much in 800 years!

 

The row of stone cottages in Kirknewton Village.

 

The are some really nice well-maintained gardens in the village.

 

After the hillfort walk a second, and more detailed, visit to St Gregory's Church, Kirknewton Church.

 

The white gravestones of twelve war graves of the air force servicemen from England (Royal Air Force), Canada (Royal Canadian Air Force) and New Zealand (Royal N. Z. Air Force) who lost their lives in 1942, 1943 or 1944 whilst training or flying missions in the Cheviot Hills in the second World War II. A poignant reminder as young soldiers are dying in Afghanistan at this time (August 2009).

 

The war graves in Kirknewton churchyard.

 

 

Looking down the nave to the chancel and altar, and on the left is the north aisle.

 

The 12th century (or earlier?) relief carving of the Adoration of the Magi.

 

From left to right: The memorial stained windows to  (1st) Josephine Butler. (2nd) In memory of Captain the Hon. Claud Lambton (1888-1976) who loved this countryside. This window was presented by his daughter and is based on Psalm 104. (3rd) This window is erected by officers, NCO's, airmen and airwomen of RAF Milfield who died for their country while flying from Milfield RAF Station. (4th) In memory of Lieutenant Commander DRB Cosh DSC RCNVR Commanding Officer 881 Navel Air Squadron November 1943 June 1944

 

The south transept, known as the Burrell Chapel is built of sturdy thick walled inwardly curving vaulting - a bit dark!

 

The simple gravestone of the grave of Josephine Butler (1828-1906, born Josephine Grey at Milfield Hill) who devoted most of her later adult life campaigning for the rights of women. One cause of this wonderful dedicated, and deeply committed  Christian woman, was the repeal of oppressive and much abused 'Contagious Diseases Prevention Act'. She supported women who desperately needed help and she also became, in 1867, the President of the newly formed North of England Council for Promoting Higher Education for Women and one could say so much more - but there is an excellent booklet on her in the church.

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