A Mithraic Temple, Carrawburgh, Northumberland

After we visited the Roman fort at Chesters we drove on to see the remains of a Mithraic temple which is in the middle of a field. I have to say though that the temple itself isn’t very well signposted, so we ended up yomping over a field full of indignant sheep towards what was definitely a ruin in the distance, but that turned out to be the ruin of a farm building. Oh well, it was all good exercise and we gave the sheep something else to think about other than grass!

We eventually got on the right track, the signpost was on a small fencepost just the width of the wood, so about 3 inches square.

This is the road by the car park at Carrawburgh, Northumberland, as you can see the road is very straight so presumably this was originally the Roman road.

The temple is quite small but as the god Mithras was popular with soldiers it was probably quite well used by the men at Chesters Fort.

Mithraic Temple, Carrawburgh, Northumberland, Roman ruin

Temple Information Board, Mithraic temple, Carrawburgh, Northumberland

Mithraic Temple, Carrawburgh, Northumberland

Mithraic Temple, Carrawburgh, Northumberland, Roman ruin

The middle column of the altar has a stone offerings dish and visitors have been leaving coins, sweets and a big piece of wood as worshippers would have done. I was a really big spender and offered up 2 pence!

Votive Offerings, Mithraic Temple, Carrawburgh, Northumberland

Chesters Roman Fort part 2

The ruins that you can see in the distance below are what remains of the camp commandant’s house. As you can see the area that the fort is set in is scenic but I imagine it would have looked a bit different in Roman times, nearly 2,000 years ago, however the land here was very fertile even back then it seems and was able to provide enough in the way of crops for humans and horses. The fort was known to the Romans as Cilurnum.

Commandant's house from distance

Closer up you can imagine that it must have been a lot more comfortable than any of the other accommodation, and at least he had central heating, I think the bricks are part of that system.

Commandant's House , Chesters fort, Cilurnum, Northumberland, Roman ruin

By Commandant's House, Chesters fort, Northumberland

The floor below would have had a mosaic pattern on it I’m sure, but what can be seen in the photo are the supports of the floor.

Commandant's House, Roman floor, Northumberland

Annoyingly I don’t seem to have an info board photo for the commandant’s house, but the HQ info board below is quite interesting.

HQ Building info board, Chesters Roman fort

But as you can see there isn’t much left of it nowadays.

HQ building, Chesters Roman fort, ruins

You need a good imagination!

HQ Building Chesters Roman fort, Northumberland

The info board below gives you an idea of how grand and imposing this area would have been – all to keep those barbarians from the north out!

Main East Gate Board, Chesters Roman fort, Northumberland

St Nicholas, Churchyard, Cramlington, Northumberland

St Nicholas Church, Cramlington, Northumberland

Last week we decided to visit some friends down in the north-east of England, now that we’re allowed to travel outside our immediate area again. Cramlington Village was one of the places we wanted to visit down there as Jack has a very old book with his great-grandfather’s name written in it – in copperplate – Armstrong Besford, Cramlington. Sadly he didn’t write his whole address. Anyway, we made for Cramlington which seems to have expanded a lot in recent years, but we reached the old village, parked the car and had a walk around the St Nicholas Church graveyard, in the hope that we might find a family gravestone there, and Jack found it! The church dates from 1868 but many of the gravestones were older than that, obviously the original older church had been built onto in Victorian times, as often happened.

Besford Grave, Cramlington, Northumberland Village,
I must admit I thought it might be a bit unlikely as Armstrong moved to Scotland, I thought maybe the whole family had.

Anyway, the gravestone tells the story of what happened to John Besford. He was run over by a train on Stannington viaduct!! The mind boggles. You can imagine how devastating that must have been for the family though, and his wee daughter followed him just a year later. Annie was obviously a bad luck name for that family as the Annie in the following generation also died very young, that was Jack’s granny’s older sister.

St Nicholas Church, Cramlington, Northumberland

It drives me mad that gravestones in England only have a woman’s married surname on it. In Scotland we traditionally put the woman’s maiden name on the inscription. An old English friend of mine had assumed that none of the women were actually married to the ‘husbands’ in the inscriptions. As if – in Presbyterian Scotland! Having the woman’s maiden name there makes it so much more interesting and easier for people tracing family trees.

St Nicholas Churchyard, Cramlington, Northumberland
Anyway, it was interesting to know a bit more about family history, it’s a shame we couldn’t get into the church though.

St Nicholas Church, Cramlington, Northumberland

Cragside, Northumberland


On our way back up from our trip to the English Midlands in August we stopped off at Cragside in Northumberland again, it’s a National Trust property. The first time we went there we didn’t have time to visit the formal gardens, so we rectified that this time. It was a gorgeous day and there were loads of visitors there, but it was still possible to enjoy the beauty of the place. If you want to see my previous post on Cragside have a look here, here and here.


The houses in the photo above are estate houses which seem to be available for holiday rentals.


This display of sedums is very Victorian and labour intensive but very effective.

Cragside  clocktower

There’s a cute wee clocktower above the sedum display. You can see more images of Cragside here.


And the photo above is of the surrounding countryside, looking over to the small town of Rothbury, which was also very busy with tourists and is definitely worth a look as it has some nice independent shops. We didn’t manage to get past the old fashioned sweetie shop, all those sweetie jars just yelled at us to come in and buy, and the door was propped wide open too, we had no chance of eschewing them, we just had to chew!

Wooler, Northumberland

When we travelled down to England during the October holidays we passed a sign which pointed to the town of Wooler, it was described as a medieval market town. I thought it sounded lovely so we decided to take a look at the place when we were on our way back home. So after visiting Cragside we stopped off to take a look at Wooler, and here it is, well the main street anyway. If you’re interested in its history have a look here.

Wooler looking north

As you can see it’s just a typical stone built town, quite Scottish looking although it’s actually on the English side of the border, well it’s English now but it’s the sort of place which was always being fought over. We couldn’t find any signs of any medieval buildings, if they’re there they’re well hidden. But the surrounding countryside is lovely, have a look at their community website here to see some more of the area.

Although the town doesn’t look too promising shop wise I did start my Christmas shopping here in one of the several gift/antiques shops, and the owner was very friendly. She told us that it was Wooler weather, in other words the wind was absolutely freezing, a feature of the town apparently. There is a second-hand bookshop too, but sadly it was closed, I suspect we’ll be going to Wooler again when we go back to visit Cragside.

Wooler looking south

Cragside, Northumberland again

This is the lake at the entrance road which leads to Cragside in Northumberland. I think it’s called Tumbleton Lake and is man-made but it’s very pretty anyway.

a lake at entrance road

And this one was taken on the terrace leading to the woodland walk which leads down to the power house which made the hydro-electricity for the house.

Cragside gardens 1

This part of the garden is just below the house, you walk through a rockery which leads down to the woodland walk. It’s a great place for kids to scramble around in, and bigger people too.

Cragside garden

This was just a fallen tree but as you can see, part of it has been carved into an image of a Green Man. I think it looks fantastic and really quite scary. I wish I had been able to see the artist at work on it.

a wood carving

I think that’s just about all of the photos I took at Cragside. We’ll definitely be going back again because we want to see the gardens at their best, well I do and I don’t suppose Jack will complain. As it was October when we were there and we were actually on our way back home to Scotland and a bit pushed for time we didn’t even bother going to see the formal gardens, deciding that it would be best to see the plants in the spring or summer. So we plan to go there again next year. Meanwhile I’ll be popping the vitamins and keeping to my walking regime to be in optimum shape for it, you have to be quite fit to tackle the grounds, especially when it’s muddy underfoot which just about everywhere has been this year!

Cragside, Northumberland – again

I just managed to get this photo of the kitchen at Cragside with nobody in it, there must have been 40 people milling about the place, and there’s certainly plenty to see in the way of Victorian gadgets jelly moulds and copper. As you can see there are two kitchen ranges to deal with all the entertaining that they had to cope with, not to mention all the servants who would have been getting fed there too.

a Cragside house kitchen

I can’t remember what this room was called but I would call it the living-room, the inscription above the fireplace is EAST OR WEST HAME’S BEST – which is fair enough I suppose. The fire is in a lovely comfy alcove with stained glass panels either side of it, as you can see, all very Arts and Crafts design.

Cragside stained glass 2

And here is the other side of it, there are wooden settees either side of the fireplace too and I imagine that the place would have been full of dogs when the house was a home.

Cragside glass

Another bedroom, this time with some of the clothes which would have been worn in the house’s Victorian heyday. On the table there were bits and pieces of sewing, just as if the original owner had left the room for a short time and was going to be coming back and taking it up where she left off.

Cragside interior bedroom 3

Yet more stained glass, this time it was situated on a wide landing.
You can just see the very Victorian heavily embossed wallpaper, the bottom of the walls are covered with tiles.

Cragside interior glass 3

And just as a wee taster, here’s a bit of the beautiful gardens, the burn running through it is quite a torrent and I can see why Armstrong decided to harness all that energy and use it to light the house. You can read about Lord Armstrong here.
Cragside gardens 6 + old bridge

Cragside, Northumberland

On our way back up to Scotland, after our short break in Yorkshire a few weeks ago, we stopped off at Cragside in Northumberland, another National Trust property. It was the first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity. Thanks again to Margaret @ Booksplease for pointing us in its direction. We were lucky with the weather, although it had been raining most of the week which meant it was a bit muddy underfoot in the gardens. We got a great day for viewing it all, it’s a very popular destination so it was fairly crowded in parts but most people stayed close to the house. I think it’s best described as quirky, I’m glad I don’t have to worry about all those roof angles but the inside is full of Arts and Crafts details.

Cragside house from gardens

It’s a very homely place though, despite being huge, as it’s Victorian, the furniture isn’t too precious, lots of us own bits and pieces of Victorian furniture and knick knacks, so most of it doesn’t seem grand, especially the bedrooms. I’d love to own a patchwork quilt like this though.

A bedroom in Cragside.

I love this quilt too, as you can see, this room has William Morris wallpaper, one of his brighter designs, they can be a bit dark sometimes. I have absolutely no idea what the boxes on the floor at the bottom of the bed are, I don’t even recall seeing them!

Cragside interior bedroom 1

I took lots of photos of the interior as it was such a nice change to be able to, for some reason the National Trust for Scotland still don’t allow photos inside. So I’ll probably show more of Cragside again soon, it’s a real delight for anyone interested in Arts and Crafts design.

Duddo Stone Circle, Northumberland

I had never heard of Duddo until Margaret@BooksPlease blogged about it recently, do have a look at her very interesting post, her photos are better than mine too, here. I’m still getting used to the new camera, well that’s my excuse anyway!
Thanks Margaret, we would never have found the Duddo Stone Circle on our own, it’s fairly off the beaten track.

Duddo information board

Lorraine was asking how long it took for us to get to York from Scotland and I have to say that I’m not exactly sure, somewhere between 3 and 4 hours I think, because we stopped off at Duddo on the way there. The sign on the gate which you go through to get to Duddo says that it’s about an hour long walk there and back – and it was for us anyway. It’s an easy walk if you’re fairly fit, along the edges of fields of crops which had recently germinated, and we had a lovely day for it.

Duddo from a distance 1

Although Duddo is in Northumberland and so is now definitely part of England, I think of it as historically Scottish as it’s north of Hadrian’s Wall. It was obviously a very important place for Neolithic/Bronze Age inhabitants. The whole thing is a bit of a mystery but they do know that it dates from about 2,000 BC. Cremated human remains were found in the centre of the stone circle, it might have been a place of worship and burial or for sacrifices, or both.

Duddo from distance 3
It’s an impressive spot today, just imagine what it must have been like all those years ago.

Duddo standing stone 1

It’s thought that these massive grooves have been worn into the stone by the weather over the centuries, they look spookily like they’re man-made though.

aOne of the Duddo standing stonesstone 3

This one is actually the smallest stone but it’s still about 5 feet in height, as you can see there are lovely hills in the background. We were lucky in that there were no other sight-seers there and we had the place all to ourselves, which made it all the more magical for me. I count myself as being a fairly hard and cynical person but I definitely felt that there was a special atmosphere at the stone circle and I walked around them touching them all.

Can’t you feel it? I said to Jack. That’s the Viking in you. They’re just stones – he replied.

That’s the scientist in you! – I said. Honestly there’s nae romance in that man of mine.

Duddo landscape

I think Duddo would be quite bleak in grey weather but it was very pleasant on a blue sky day. There was quite a lot of fighter jet activity, some of it too high up to see but you could certainly hear them and a couple of jets did pass over us, very low. It’s a very rural and sparsely populated part of Britain at Duddo, which makes it a good training airspace for them I suppose. It does seem a bit weird though when all that state of the art metal, costing millions of pounds flies over a Bronze Age structure.

Corbridge Roman Fort

We visited Corbridge in Northumberland during the summer holidays. The Roman remains there are quite extensive although it’s thought that there is still a lot to be found underneath the surrounding fields.

The town which I was brought up in is situated just to the north of the Antonine Wall which was the wall which marked the farthest point of the Roman Empire. They might have managed to get a bit further north but I don’t think there is any proof of that. I’ve always found it really funny that the Romans managed to conquer just about everyone else but the folks of the Dumbarton area were just too much for them to cope with.

So visiting this Roman ruin was a real novelty for us and there is quite a lot to see inside as well as outside. There is an interesting museum on the site which houses a lot of the artefacts which have been dug up from there. It’s well worth going to see if you’re in Northumberland.

Hadrian’s Wall is another great place (thing). It was built by the Romans to stop the Scottish savages from being able to attack the Romans. The first time I went there on a school trip with the Latin/Classical Studies department I couldn’t get over how big the wall is. The Romans must have been very scared of us. I’ve always fancied walking the whole length of it, the whole breadth of the border, but life has somehow got in the way, maybe one day!