News and What's On

We were delighted to have the Bishop with us... read more

 

Bamburgh's 'Bowl Hole Skeletons' finally laid to rest... read more

29/06/2016
The final committal of 110 Anglo-Saxon skeletons into the crypt of St Aidan’s Church, Bamburgh took place on Friday 24th June.

 

Visitors make their way into St Aidan's Church Canon Brian Hurst leads the committal service The new grille guarding the ossuary

 

A poignant and moving ceremony to mark the final committal of the Anglo-Saxon Bowl Hole skeletons was held at St Aidan’s Church, Bamburgh on Friday.

Encased in individual zinc charnel boxes, the skeletons have been finally laid to rest in the small second crypt beneath the 11th Century chancel.

The specially created ossuary is the culmination of years of work by Bamburgh Heritage Trust and the Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership.

The skeletons were excavated between 1998 and 2007 from the sand dunes to the south of Bamburgh Castle by Bamburgh Research Project.

Years of research by Bamburgh Research Project and Durham University in partnership with Bamburgh Castle Estate has resulted in an unrivalled wealth of information about our Anglo-Saxon ancestors who were living in Bamburgh 1,400 years ago.

A beautiful horse drawn antique hearse brought the remaining ten charnel boxes from Bamburgh Castle to the church and the skeletons were accompanied on their final journey by the staff from Bamburgh Castle and archaeologists from Bamburgh Research Project.

The ceremony was led by the Revd Canon Brian Hurst with the Ven Peter Robinson, Archdeacon of Lindisfarne.

Canon Hurst said “It seems very fitting that these individuals have found their final resting place in the crypt of St Adain’s church – they who may have known King Oswald and his gentle bishop, Aidan – they who would have known a church on this site and may have known that here it was that Aidan died.

"It is almost as if the crypt has been waiting for them to come and offer them this peaceful resting space.”
The service included a talk by the author Max Adams about the wider historic importance of Anglo-Saxon Bamburgh and Graeme Young, the director of Bamburgh Research Project, covered the archaeological significance of the site.
A particularly moving element of the service was when Tom Clark read ‘The Seafarer’, an Anglo-Saxon poem, in original Old English – the very language that these people would have spoken and heard.

Jessica Turner of the Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership said “It was all incredibly moving and very beautiful.
"We are immensely grateful to all those who helped make today possible.”

The skeletons are now secure in the second crypt behind a stunning grille designed and made by local blacksmith and artist Stephen Lunn.

Stephen’s design is a modern interpretation of the Anglo-Saxon knot with animal heads reflecting the zoomorphic tradition in ancient Celtic art and the three-dimensional knotwork reflecting the Anglo-Saxon – the two artistic traditions that merged in St Oswald's Bamburgh and resulted in the Golden Age of Northumbria.

A short exploration of demographic of the Bowl Hole cemetery through seven skeletons -

  • An older Bamburgh woman, aged 65+
     
  • An older man, aged 60+, originally from Scandinavia
     
  • A young Irish woman, aged about 25, whose skeletal remains show she was almost certainly a weaver or needle-worker including a wear to the right central incisor from the repeated clasping of an instrument like a needle between her teeth
     
  • A child of about 9 with both baby and adult teeth present in the skull, the isotopes show the baby teeth (neonatal stage) formed in the southern Mediterranean and then adult teeth formed (early childhood) in France
     
  • A young man of about 17-20 years with evidence of a sword strike down his left hand side which cut through his left clavicle, scapula, ribs, pelvis and knee
     
  • A man aged about 25 from the Mediterranean who suffered from gout
     
  • A Hebridean man of about 45 who was almost certainly a contemporary of St Oswald

We were delighted to have the Bishop with us to celebrate our founder and patron, St Aidan, at the beginning of September. After the service a few words of appreciation were offered by Charles Baker-Cresswell to Audrey Fitsimmons, who has played the organ at St Aidan’s for over 40 years. Audrey was present with a gift to use in her garden – where she may spend more time on Saturdays in future – and a bouquet of flowers by Bishop Christine.
Bishop at St Aidans
In the September magazine the Vicar wrote:

Ever since Moses led the Hebrews out slavery in Egypt and over the Red Sea, the People of God have sung praises to the Lord; King David sang and danced before the Ark of the Covenant and was an accomplished musician – he played the lyre to soothe the madness of Saul – and by tradition the Psalms, that great and early collection of hymns, are accredited to him; Matthew tells how Jesus and his disciples sung a hymn before setting out to the Mount of Olives; St Paul encourages his congregation to sing with gratitude psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Still today, whether our preference is the incredible chants of the Armenian Church, the rousing songs of the Methodists, the beauty of Anglican Choral music or the ordinary singing and playing that is offered in parishes churches up and down the country, we are still called as the People of God to sing.

Bishop at St Aidans 2

Through our music and singing we are able to put into words what words alone cannot express; we are knit together as one congregation (not observers but participants); we join our worship with those who sing more fully and perfectly in heaven.

It is through our music and singing that we mostly learn our theology; we manifest the mood of our worship; we give fuller expression to our joys and laments, our triumphs and sorrows.

Music and singing is so much at the heart of our worship and yet so often we take for granted those who help us make melody and stay in tune. Nearly forty years ago Audrey Fitzsimmons was asked to step in temporarily to play the organ at Bamburgh when Mildred Herbertson was unable to play and since then Audrey has been faithful in leading regular Sunday morning worship and occasional festivals, playing at countless funerals and weddings, sometimes into a family’s second or third  generation.

We are enormously grateful for the way in Audrey has occupied the organist’s stool in a very steady, unflustered and un-precious way; her sense of humour has also helped her to cope with some of the vicar’s gaffs.

It is a gracious organist who steps away from the console before it’s too late and for that too we are grateful. We say “adieu” to Audrey (for I hope that she will still play for us from time to time) on the first Sunday of September – and after the Parish Eucharist we will have the opportunity to thank her for her role in helping us sing the praises of God in this place for so long.

And, lest we forget, we are enormously thankful to those who are forming a rota to accompany our worship, knowing that with them, our worship and our praise is so much the richer.

Brian Hurst

 

Magazines etc.

The leaflet "Hidden Gems" can be downloaded ...get it here

Another leaflet "Steps of Saints" is available here ...get it here