Protecting the Past for Future Benefit; Family Part of Pilot Heritage Partnership

Article excerpt

Byline: Tony Henderson

AFAMILY following in the footsteps of a line of farmers stretching back more than 3,000 years are to pioneer a project to protect their valley's history-rich landscape.

English Heritage, Northumberland National Park Authority and Natural England have joined with tenant farmers Johnny and Sarah Wilson and son Ross, in a national pilot Heritage Partnership Agreement.

The Wilsons' sheep and beef cattle farm occupies around 2,000 acres in the Breamish Valley in Northumberland.

The valley is considered by experts to be one of the finest prehistoric landscapes in the country.

It contains a spectacular range of remains from the Neolithic , Bronze and Iron Ages, Romano-British and medieval periods. Several sites, such as Iron Age hill forts, have been designated as scheduled ancient monuments (SAMs), which provide a fascinating insight into how our ancient ancestors lived and farmed.

But under the new Heritage Partnership Agreement with the Wilsons, a total of 1,300 acres have been scheduled as an ancient monument - the largest piece of scheduled land in England.

The agreement seeks to encourage a more efficient and collaborative approach towards heritage management. Natural England has added value to the agreement by combining it with other aspects of environmental support through its Higher Level Stewardship scheme.

Carol Pyrah, English Heritage planning and development regional director for the North East, said: "The Wilsons are exemplary stewards of the rich archaeological landscape at Ingram Farm and have been working with local archaeologists and Northumberland National Park on a programme of excavation and research for years.

"I hope this new agreement will help them continue to manage the important archaeological remains in a more efficient and less bureaucratic way."

Johnny Wilson, whose family have farmed the area since 1949 on the Ingram Farm site, said: "We farm in an amazing archaeological landscape which is nationally recognised as outstanding and is a privilege to have. …

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