Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Calls for Historic Church Site to Stay Open to the Public

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Calls for Historic Church Site to Stay Open to the Public

Article excerpt

Byline: Tony Henderson Environment Reporter

THE future of a site of a newlydiscovered church from an island's distant past will be up for debate over the next weeks.

The monastic church on Holy Island in Northumberland, which could date from as early as the 7th century, has been excavated in a community archaeology dig run by the Peregrini Lindisfarne Landscape project.

But consent for the work on The Heugh site of special scientific interest includes the condition that the work area should be returned to its original state.

The dig was due to end this weekend, with the site being backfilled and covered up.

Now calls have been made for the historic importance of the church find to the island's long Christian heritage be taken into account through the excavated site being put on permanent public display.

Northumberland buildings archaeologist, Peter Ryder, said: "I suspect that a lot of local folk would like to see it stay open. I think it would be really good to have such a substantial relic of the early monastery remain visible, especially as the remains are of a durable character, and make immediate sense to the visitor as a church, and would not need undue maintenance.

"I have spoken to quite a few people who are very keen to see it. The exposed footings of this church, on such a dramatic site with its views of Bamburgh and the Farne Islands, must rate as a place where Northumbrian history, and in particular the Golden Age of Northumbria, is at its most tangible.

"This is a special and important site and is at the top of significant historical sites in Northumberland." A spokesperson for the Diocese of Newcastle said: "It's certainly a shame the site needs to be covered up again. Of course we understand the need to preserve the site as a site of special scientific interest (SSSI). …

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