Last month, I spent a few days excavating, as one of a team of volunteers (under the umbrella of Flodden 1513 and under the direction of professional archaeologists), a site to the west of Wark Castle on the River Tweed, in Northumberland. This was another of the Border castles like Ford Castle and Etal Castle, that were destroyed by James IV of Scotland before the Battle of Flodden in 1513. Three trenches were dug or re-opened and revealed what may have been a boundary wall to a western bailey, a hearth area, post holes and masonry, possibly associated with a medieval chapel. There were early coins, pottery and animal bones. All very interesting.
My fourth book on local topics, Breamish and Till: From Source to Tweed, has been published by the Till Valley Archaeological Society (TillVAS)(www.tillvas.com), ISBN 978-1-291-58938-2 Price £10. Net proceeds of sale will go to the Society.
Information about the book can be seen on my Books (cont.) page and copies may be bought by clicking on the blue link at the top of the Books page and following the instructions.
In September 2014, we had our annual pilgrimage to the Lake District and, on the Gallery page, I have included a photograph of Bowfell, at the head of the Langdale Valley. If any explanation is needed for my love of the Lake District, this says it for me!
Since the Australian trip, we have been fortunate in going on a National Trust for Scotland cruise in June 2014 to Orkney, Shetland, the Faeroe Islands, St. Kilda and Caithness. All in one week! But, a very good cruise. Selected photos in the Gallery. In July, we visited a cousin living in a small village in Normandy close to many surviving features associated with the D-Day landings and the Dieppe landing—the weather was perfect.
Archaeological excavations have now ended for the season at Flodden Hill. Selected photos in the Gallery
At the end of March 2014 we returned from a visit to our Australian family and I have put a few photos in the Gallery.
Last year, I took part in an excavation at Wark Castle overlooking the R. Tweed. A large, defensive wall was discovered on the west side of a large enclosure to the west of the castle. There was medieval pottery, animal bones and a well-preserved iron 'bodkin' arrowhead, probably dating to the 16th century. The next excavations will be at Flodden during the last week of this month and the first week of June.
Also earlier in the year I took part in a poetry reading in Hawick on a Sunday afternoon. It was a chance for local, Borders poets to read some of their work to microphone and camera. It took place in the Drum Beat cafe, a cafe/bookshop that hosts events and book reviews for local writers. There were about twelve of us plus our guests and other people in the cafe. I read two of my poems, 'A Helping Hand' and 'St. Kilda People' and they seemed to be well received. See http://www.youtube.com/bordersopenmic
Following on from the above, I was asked to submit a poem for the 'Poetry Corner' for publication in the Hawick News.
My photograph of a winter sunrise over the River Tweed at Coldstream was reproduced in the Berwickshire News on 30 January. I have put it in the Gallery.
Thank you for visiting my website. I am Antony Chessell and I am a writer living in Northumberland in Border country, having moved from the Scottish Borders in October 2014. The photograph in the Header above shows Cheviot and adjoining hills in Northumberland as seen from Coldstream, just across the Border in Scotland.
Please click on the tabs to the left to find out about me, my books and various activities. Also, there is a collection of photographs in the Gallery which I add to on a regular basis. If you need to get in touch with me, you will see that there is a Contact tag.
This is me at the National Trust for Scotland cafe before setting off on a walk to St. Abbs Head on a sunny day in late summer. The eastern Borders has a good deal of sunshine with relatively low rainfall. The photos below show views of the ruined Etal Castle which is in the care of English Heritage and which is near to my house. The castle was sacked by James IV and his army before the Battle of Flodden in 1513 and was never restored to its original condition. The first photo shows the Tower House (there was never a keep) with the Gatehouse in the background. The second photo gives an impression of the many dramatic sunsets that appear behind the ruins.
For the last five years, TillVAS volunteers (including me) have been working on excavations associated with the Battle of Flodden 1513. That year was the quincentenary of the battle and there were many events leading up to the commemoration of the battle on 9 September and these will continue for many years to come.
We have worked under professional guidance at the supposed site of the encampment of James IV of Scotland on Flodden Hill and we have excavated and field-walked in many fields around the positions of the Scottish and English armies before the battle and the site of the battle itself, below Branxton Hill.
The excavations this year (2015) started in April and funding means that we have been able to return to Wark Castle, moving back to Flodden Hill in May/June. There will be other 'digs' this year at Norham Castle and Ladykirk (built by James IV and perhaps used as a lookout post overseeing Norham Castle) and .
October 2013. I was quite excited when I found this beautiful worked flint whilst field-walking with TillVAS at a newly ploughed and sown wheat field just north of the village of Branxton. A section of the field had been marked out in 10metre square grids so that any finds lying on the surface could be 'bagged up' and their positions recorded. This flint, like all flints was clean of any attached soil. It has a long rectangular edge on one side which might have been glued into a wooden shaft with , perhaps, birch resin. The other edge has been tooled to enable the flint to have been used for cutting or scraping.
On the Gallery page I have included another photograph of a black flint scraper that I found another time. Evidently, this is an unusual specimen with some unusual features so I hope to learn more about it. Please have a look at it.
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