FLODDEN 500 – STUDY DAY, 12th MAY 2013
Over 70 ANLHS members and friends gathered on Saturday 12th May to spend the day exploring the village of Norham and the history of the Battle of Flodden (which really was the Battle of Branxton Moor until the name was changed, allegedly by Sir Walter Scott!). Blustery winds and occasional showers did nothing to spoil the enjoyment of what became a fascinating and highly enjoyable event.
The day began with Dr Chris Burgess explaining the background to the battle. In a superbly illustrated and fascinating talk, Chris stressed the wider political and military context within which the battle could be understood and outlined the strategies and tactics employed by both sides. This was followed by a self directed walk around the attractive village of Norham using the guide and map prepared by the Norham and Ladykirk Local History Society, the beautifully restored Saxon church of St Cuthbert was the undoubted highlight of the tour. After a splendid lunch prepared by the Norham Women’s Institute, the group moved on to Norham Castle where Chris Burgess explained the key architectural features and brought us up to date with the latest archaeological evidence for interpreting the role and structure of the castle,
The afternoon was spent in the village of Branxton and actually on the site of the battle itself. This was led by Clive Hallam-Baker of the ‘Remembering Flodden Project’. With typical gusto, Clive provided a physical demonstration of the weaponry used in the battle and explained the advantages and disadvantages of the various arms used by both sides. Clive then led the group around the battlefield where his expert knowledge made many aspects of the conflict clear, especially the role of topography in determining the outcome of the conflict.
Overall, this was a splendid day with two charismatic and expert speakers, a warm welcome and delicious lunch provided by the Norham and Ladykirk Local History Society, and a rare opportunity to explore in depth the links between a particular place and the course of national history. Our thanks go to all involved and particularly to Heather Lough of Norham and Ladykirk LHS for arranging such an excellent programme.
Members explore Norham Castle during the Study Day, 11th May, 2013.
Record Office . . . formerly where archives were available for consultation at Melton Park, Gosforth, and Morpeth
has re-located to the new WOODHORN complex near Ashington, and
changed its name to the Northumberland Collections Service.
For further information see our
Our annual journal, Tyne and Tweed, is now available: published October, 2012:: please contact The Editor , A.N.L.H.S. at the address on our home page if you could be interested in writing an article for consideration in the 2011 volume. Articles should be no longer than 5,000 words.
EARLY HISTORY OF ASSOCIATION OF NORTHUMBERLAND LOCAL HISTORY SOCIETIES
The predecessor of ANLHS was the Northumberland Local History Society, established in 1966 by various people including the Northumberland Record Office. Prime movers includede Mrs. Ellen Mitchell of Bedlington, J.P., Robin Gard, County Archivist; Alec Trotter of the Community Council of Northumberland. Also involved were Newcastle and Northumberland County Libraries, their Education Officers and Tyne and Wear Archives. Dr Constance Fraser, the current President, was a founding member of the Association. At national level the initiator was the Standing Conference for Local History where the lead member was Lionel Munby, a Staff Tutor for Extension Lectures at Cambridge University. The Steering Committee met in the Common Room of the Department of Education, Newcastle University.
At first, membership was mainly of individuals and for a number of years they outnumbered Societies. There were not many local history societies existing at this time, but they included Morpeth Antiquarian Society and the Tynemouth Antiquarian and Local History Society, plus the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne. However, Mrs Mitchell threw herself into the creation of Societies. For their subscription they received invitations to all the events and a copy of Tyne and Tweed. There was even a free newsletter of sorts which members also received for a while.
Individuals took out membership for several reasons, for example:
a) They wished to support a County Society;
b) They were not members of a Local History Society;
c) They lived outside the area but had an interest in it;
d) Their own L.H.S. did not disseminate sufficient information from ANLHS.
LOCAL HISTORY SOCIETIES
The Northumberland Local History Society set out to establish local history societies around the county and to support them. After a while, it was agreed that, because of the growth in the number of local societies, the title should be adjusted to reflect this, and was changed to the Association of Northumberland Local History Societies. Societies outside Northumberland were also beginning to join, such as Whickham, and it was suggested that the name be changed again to Association of Northumbrian Local History Societies, but this was rejected at an AGM.
Some County bodies were a little envious of ANLHS and its status with the local history societies. Yorkshire and County Durham wanted to know how we did it, as their County Societies wished to form a federation with local societies within their counties. We made the point that we were there when the eggs were hatched, and didn’t have to try to round up the chickens.
MEMBERS MEETINGS (PREVIOUSLY KNOWN AS COUNCIL MEETINGS)
The Association met originally in the Offices of the Northumberland Rural Committee in The Grove, Gosforth but meetings were also held in the former Northumberland Record Office in the old underground bunker at Gosforth Park. They were held in the search room, above ground. These were held three times a year with an AGM. Every society and institution was invited to send a representative, and 40 or 50 people would attend. The day-to-day running of the ANLHS was by Executive Committee.
At the beginning Robin Gard was very happy that the Northumberland Record Office should be open for these meetings but on his retirement the NRO ceased to be available for committee meetings.
Council meetings were therefore held in various places, but mainly Stannington. The AGM was normally the first Saturday in November. However, when the bypass was built at Stannington, it was found that by leaving after dark, people found it difficult to get onto the main road. The meeting was therefore brought forward to the last Saturday in October before the clocks were adjusted.
In seeking a permanent home for the Association and its belongings, various public buildings were contacted asking them if they could help. The Chief Librarian at the Lit and Phil in Newcastle, offered a room free of charge on the guarantee of two memberships for the Lit and Phil and this location developed as the Association’s headquarters for a number of years. Executive meetings were held there as and when required and a number of sub-committees were formed - a Finances and General Purposes Committee, a Publications Sub-Committee and a Programme Sub-Committee., known individually as “F & GP”; “PubSubCom” and “ProgSubCom”. The Association eventually left the Lit and Phil and now operates from houses of members of the Executive, subsequently the various sub-committees were discontinued.
Graveyard Survey. This set out to record all the tombstones around the county. The results were placed in the NRO. The project was never fully completed although an article appeared in Tyne & Tweed.
Tree survey. Old and venerable trees or any tree with a story were recorded; such as the one at Blenkinsopp from which they used to hang people; or one which was so huge and its trunk so hollow that four maids could hide in it. This was not a very substantial project, but the results were lodged with the NRO.
War Memorials Project. This was suggested by Professor Norman McCord. It had been prompted by a letter in the Times from the custodian of the Imperial War Museum who suggested that war memorials were needing repair, or were being moved for roadworks etc. and a national list might be a good idea. The Association took this one up, and considerable interest was shown by the Imperial War Museum. The Project ceased after five years and the results were handed over to the NRO. Janet Brown continued with the Project and this eventually led to the North East War Memorials Project. The project is unique in the country for covering a region and is held up by the Imperial War Museum as an examplar to other counties.
Other Projects have also been carried out and all relevant information is now held at the Northumberland Record Office, Woodhorn.
Handlist of Sources. Two small handbooks were produced, Northumberland Handlist of Sources Part 1 General, and Part 2 Topography. The editorial committee for Part 1 was Miss June Thompson and Arthur Wallace (Newcastle City Library) and Peter McGuiness. T.H. Rowland of Morpeth was named as Editor. Part 2 was based on lists compiled by H.A. Taylor, former County Archivist, and catalogues in Newcastle Central Library mainly. This listed the primary sources for each place in the county. A third booklet was planned as a guide to the back volumes of Archaeologia Aeliana.
More substantial books of photographs were:
Northumberland Yesteryear, 1978
Northumberland at the Turn of the Century, 1970
Northumberland Memories, 1981
All were edited by Robin Gard.
Tyne and Tweed is the Journal of the Association and is published annually..
Richard Potts was the editor during the 1970s, Hylton Charlton in the 1980s and Constance Fraser was the long serving editor throughout the 1990s and early 2000s.
During this time, the Libraries were used as a means of distribution and the Lit and Phil put Tyne & Tweed into the Library distribution service in the 1990s.
The first One Day School was held in 1986 at Close House, the Club House then of Newcastle University. It was so popular we had to run a second meeting to satisfy the demand.
To mark the 21st Anniversary of the Association a Local History Fair was held at Hexham. These continue today as Study Days, an event being held each year at various venues throughout the County.
ROUND THE COUNTY
Member societies are invited to host a Round the County Day. This is held annually and gives Association members the opportunity to visit other Societies and learn about their area and history. This has proved to be one of the most successful aspects of ANLHS activities.
This account has been compiled mainly from notes contributed by Janet Brown and Constance Fraser.