Antony Chessell
Antony Chessell



Happy New Year! In north Northumberland we have had hard frosts but, so far, have escaped snow except for a light dusting. This is in contrast to southern and western parts of Britain.

Looking back, we had some interesting trips during 2017. In September we had a week in Galloway when it rained every day but one. But it didn't stop us getting out to see the amazing number of historic and archaeological sites. This is a really interesting area.

In May we had a fantastic visit to Cyprus. In June we went on a National Trust for Scotland cruise to Orkney, Shetland and St Kilda. This was the third time we have landed on St Kilda and the second in warm, sunny weather. The passage out was very rough! I have put some photos on the Gallery page. 

At the Borders Book Festival in June, I read an extract from my contribution to the Border Writers' Forum Anthology, Border Voices. This was at Melrose in the Scottish Borders and I was one of ten readers. The theme of the Anthology was 'Bridges' and my contribution was entitled 'Bridges to Heaven'.

A current project which is taking up much of my time is the inspection and recording of historic buildings in connection with the Branxton & Crookham Village Atlas Project. This is a community project administered by the Till Valley Archaeological Society with the aid of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. In addition to the Historic Buildings Group, there are three other groups of volunteers dealing with archaeology, social history and oral history. There is more information on the TillVAS website—there is a link below.


My fourth book on local topics, Breamish and Till: From Source to Tweed, is available for sale, published by the Till Valley Archaeological Society (TillVAS)(, ISBN 978-1-291-58938-2 Price £10. Net proceeds of sale go to the Society. 

Information about this and other books, articles and poems can be seen on my Books & Books (cont.) pages and copies of some may be bought by clicking on the blue link at the top of the Books page and following the instructions.



All the photographs are copyright of Antony Chessell

One of two chambered cairns that we visited on the way back home from Galloway in September 2017. This is the Neolithic Cairn Holy 1 burial cairn in a magnificent setting with views over Wigtown Bay.

A reconstructed Iron Age hut at Whithorn, Galloway. This is, hopefully similar to archaeological remains that we have been excavating in north Northumberland in summer 2017. I found an Iron Age pottery sherd. More excavations next year if we get the funding.

The Old Man of Hoy seen from the top of the cliffs on the island of Hoy, Orkney, in June 2017. There were three climbers on it at the time.

The Old School, Rackwick, on Hoy dating from 1718 when it was founded by the Scottish Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge. The number of pupils ranged from 15-20. Note the huge slates! June 2017

A Kittiwake amongst the Sea Thrift on the red cliffs of Hoy, June 2017.

Looking down on Village Bay, St. Kilda, on a walk up to The Gap, June 2017.

The ruined chapel on St. Ninian's Isle, Shetland where the treasure was found in 1958. All the 28 objects are silver apart from the jaw bone of a porpoise. The treasure is housed in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. The upright stone in the centre marks the discovery site. This photo was taken on a wet day in June 2017. The island is reached by walking across the sand tombola.

Atmospheric scene on a wet day on St. Ninian's Isle, Shetland, June 2017.

The southern coast of Cyprus west of Limassol. Cliffs and lowland plain seen from the archaeological site at Kourion. May 2017.

The archaeological site at Kourion, Cyprus with the last of the spring flowers and a sheltering olive tree. May 2017.

Bellapais Abbey near Kyrenia in the illegally occupied northern part of Cyprus. May 2017. 

Fragments of columns, capitals, bases and other assorted remains outside the Archaeological Museum, Limassol, Cyprus. May 2017.

Kykkos Monastery in the Troodos Mountains, Cyprus. May 2017

Roman water tanks at the Amathous archaeological site at Limassol, Cyprus. May 2017

January 2017—The Scarlet Elfcup is back! A really bright feature in the winter landscape.

New Year's Day, 2017. A guided walk in the Cheviot Hills looking at prehistoric and medieval remains. Here we are looking at an intact stone circle.

A view of the Cobb at Lyme Regis, Dorset under an uncertain sky, July 2016. This is Monmouth Beach where we spent some time hunting for and finding fossils from the Jurassic era. We had a special family week here to celebrate our Golden Wedding Anniversary.

There are many non-native, deciduous trees in the parks and other green areas in Melbourne, planted during the 19th century, probably to remind the settlers of 'home'. It is, therefore, very interesting to see English elm trees Ulmus minor var.vulgaris that we have not seen in Britain as fully grown trees for 40 years or so—only as immature trees in hedgerows. The trees in Melbourne have not been infected by Dutch Elm Disease and it was, therefore, interesting to see the characteristic shape of fully-grown specimens.

A Rainbow Lorikeet, one of the many parrots that we come across in Australia. I approached this one very slowly with branches in front of me for camoflage but I don't think it was fooled—they are quite used to humans.

This is one of the Moonah trees Melaleuca lanceolata that grow on Churchill Island. Some of the trees are said to be 500 years old. Note the twisted pattern to the trunk. Churchill Island was joined to Phillip Island by a bridge in 1959, was discovered in 1801 and farmed since 1859. It is owned by the government and is bounded by the Churchill Island Marine National Park.

This is an example of 'spheroidal weathering' on Philip Island where the volcanic basalt rock has weathered inwards from the network of joints in the basalt. This sometimes leaves dark cores of unweathered basalt and these become black cobbles on the beach when the soft pale-coloured material erodes away. The holes are where the cobbles have been. This process gives an usual appearance with many colours, added to by the green seaweed.

This is a cliff scene on Cape Woolamai on Philip Island taken on a walk around the cape on a very warm day. We had a mixture of weather during our stay in WA and Victoria, varying from quite cool (16 degrees!) to quite hot (37 degrees) with cloudy, rainy and windy days interspersed by warm days with clear, blue skies.

The strikingly attractive 'bottlebrush' shrubs were in bloom while we were there, October/November being spring in Australia.

This is a sunset scene at Cowes on Phillip Island in Western Port, Victoria. We stayed on the island for a week before returning to Melbourne.

We attended the Remembrance Day Service at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne on 11th November 2015. This was held in the open air in front of the shrine before a large crowd, seated facing the shrine on either side of the long, wide avenue that leads down towards the centre of Melbourne. There were representatives from the armed sevices, politicians and local organisations and the secular proceedings were led by the Lieutenant-Governor of Victoria, standing in for the Governor who was laying a wreath at the Cenotaph in London. The Shrine is an impressive of Egyptian/Greek design. Although we were visitors, we felt that we were able to add our poppies commemorating two of our family who were killed in the First and Second World Wars.

This is Whalers' Beach, one of our favourite places in the Torndirrup National Park near Albany, Western Australia. It has pure, white sand and is a 'squeaky beach' as you walk over it, caused by the regularity of the sand grains.

A September 2015 view of the Langdale Pikes-Pike O'Stickle, Harrison Stickle and Pavey Ark with Dungeon Ghyll tumbling down from Stickle Tarn. A warm, sunny day—what a view! This view brings back happy memories of walks and scrambles all over the Pikes, including Jack's Rake which is a diagonal scramble up the face of Pavey Ark on the right. We have been up there in all weathers!

A tranquil scene of Elterwater in Great Langdale with the Langdale Pikes in the distance—September 2015.

My photograph of two pieces of slipware pottery found (but unfortunately not by me!) in two separate trenches within the Scheduled Area to the west of Norham Castle in July 2015. They are pieces from two separate platters that must have been quite large—the left hand piece, for example, is about 5 inches across, so the circumferance would indicate a prestigious platter. They date from the 17th century.

How many volunteers and professional archaeologists does it take to excavate one trench?!

The answer in this case is 8 volunteers (including the photographer), a Director of Excavations and a Fieldwork Supervisor!

This was trench 1 at Norham Castle, looking for evidence of a fortification on the edge of a ridge overlooking the present village of Norham, July 2015.

Some of the Grey Seals on the Farne Islands—Longstone Lighthouse behind.

Some of the many Guillemots on the Farne Islands.

A Puffin on Inner Farne, Northumberland, June 2015.

Niches, with remains of stone bench in front, in the changing room of the baths at Chesters Roman fort on Hadrian's Wall, June 2015. The niches were possibly used for clothes.

This wood near my house is carpetted with snowdrops and gives a foretaste of spring even though this is still a few months away. This photo was taken in February 2015 and was published under the title of 'Your picture of the week' in the Berwick Advertiser on 26th February 2015.

On a cold, January day (2015) these Scarlet Elfcups (Sarcoscypha austriaca) made a splash of colour in a wooded area above the River Till in north Northumberland. They are found in damp, shady places on dead twigs and set amongst moss. Their small size may be judged against the sycamore wing closeby.

The photograph taken in September 2014, shows the route up the steep ridge known as 'The Band' to the summit of Bowfell, starting from Stool End at the head of the Langdale Valley, English Lake District.

This photo was taken during Coldstream's Civic Week which is always the first week in August. It shows the Coldstreamer and his Right and Left Hand Men returning a sod of earth from the battlefield site at Flodden to the site of Coldstream Priory in a moving ceremony at the end of the Flodden ride-out day. The Coldstream Guards always send a contingent for the whole of Civic Week and the Guards take an active part in all the activities during the week.

This is Pourville-sur-Mer which was the landing place for the only successful part of the Dieppe raid in 1942. British commandos landed here, west of Dieppe, and achieved their objective.

An idyllic scene in the village of Veules-les-Roses, Normandy, just like a Monet painting? This river is the smallest river in France to flow into the sea. On 12th June 1940, despite the absence of a port, 3000 British and French soldiers were evacuated under German fire.

We were very fortunate to be able to see this very rare and attractive plant, Primula scotica, in Orkney. It is an endemic plant that is only found in certain places in Orkney and in the far north of the mainland of Scotland, in Caithness.

We were fortunate in being able to do a circumnavigation of Fair Isle on our way to Shetland. Fair Isle is owned by the National Trust for Scotland and has a small but thriving community as well as being an important bird sanctuary.

We visited the impressive Clickimin Iron Age Broch on the outskirts of Lerwick, in Shetland.

The landscapes and seascapes in the Faeroe Islands are very impressive.

Sea stacks on the island of Hester, Faeroe Islands

A corner of the Old Town in Torshaven, the capital of the Faeroe Islands, showing characteristic grass-covered roof and painted clap-boarding.

The former village street of the main island of Hirta, St. Kilda, May 2014. Hirta and the neighbouring islands of Boreray and Soay with the sea stacs of Stac Lee and Stac an Armin were very atmospheric with the mist down low. The gannets, fulmars and other sea birds were an impressive sight.

March 2014—This is a headland at Cape Schanck on the south side of the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia, looking out into the Bass Strait. It is of particular interest to geologists because of the rock formations, many of which can be distinguished by the different colours in the photograph. There is a long boardwalk leading down to the twin beaches to protect the vegetation and geology from human erosion. The black rock on the beaches, on the headland and on Pulpit Rock in the middle distance, is basalt, a hard, volcanic rock that can also be seen on Staffa in the western isles of Scotland and at the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland.

This echidna looks like a large hedgehog. It was using its snout to dig for ants and grubs in the verge alongside the road but came over to investigate my boots—something different, I suppose. It obviously didn't realise that I was standing there quite still, because echidnas shy away if they realise humans are around.

The Botanical Gardens in Melbourne looking towards the towers of the Central Business District. I rather liked the giant cacti in the foreground. The temperature that day was in the 30s.

A tranquil scene on the River Yarra in the Yarra Bend Park, Melbourne. This is not a 'park' as we know it but a large area of managed bushland within the Melbourne suburbs. It gives an idea of the landscape that might have been in this area before European settlement, with all the many varieties of eucalypt trees, many of them being River Red Gums along the banks of the river.

A cheeky, Australian magpie on the end of the cafe terrace at Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria. Visitors to Australia soon become accustomed to the magpie's characteristic warblings, particularly in the early morning—a very Australian sound.

This is my photograph of sunrise over the River Tweed at Coldstream, taken on 24th January 2014. It was reproduced in the Berwickshire News on 30th January. The view is from Henderson Park looking upstream, with the 18th century folly on the right of the picture.

This is a rather good black flint scraper (probably mesolithic) that I found during field-walking with TillVAS at Branxton Hill Farm, Northumberland. Field walking is always done with the permission of the farmer and has to fit in with the farmer's programme for ploughing, planting, spraying and harvesting. Flints can be grey, grey-brown or black with black said to be the easiest shade of flint to knap. The bulb of percussion can be clearly seen and the flint has been worked around the edges.

This is the underside of the flint showing where one or more microlith flakes may have been struck off. The edge working can also be seen.

Print Print | Sitemap
© Antony Chessell