In April 2000 archaeologist Roger Miket returned to north Northumberland after sixteen years living on Skye. While in Sale and Partners, an estate agent in Wooler, the secretary, knowing Roger's interest in the history of the area, informed him of their recent instruction to handle the sale of 'a funny bit of land at Yeavering with a history'!
The 'funny bit of land' was, in fact, the site of Ad Gefrin.
Northumberland County Council, Northumberland National Park and a number of private bidders all showed an interest in the site but the final successful bidder was Roger.
Roger's initial aim was to place the management of the site on an even footing before transferring ownership to an independent charitable trust. When this was in place Roger began contacting interested experts for guidance on the best way to establish Gefin Trust. It was decided that the trust should be made up from representatives of local government, English Heritage and the academic world with the ability to co-opt other members to address specific needs and issues should they arise. Community involvement was considered very important. From it's initial meeting in the spring of 2004 the trust has met every four months to discuss progress, planning and the way forward for the site.
Public access to the palace site has been granted. The site has been re-fenced and the stone walls have been repaired. New gates, kissing gates and paths have been installed to improve access. Information panels have been set up. The trust have entered a ten year partnership agreement with DEFRA and now hold a 999 year lease for the site and all management decisions affecting it.
I am very proud to say that, after consultation with Roger Miket, the trust will be using this site as the main on line information point for the project. This will allow the Gefrin Trust website to concentrate on reporting news, comments and decisions relevant to the trust.
I have also designed and continue to develop the Gefrin Trust website which you can visit by clicking the Trust logo on the right of this page. There are a number of fascinating downloads available on the site including Hope-Taylor's 'Yeavering', a hand list of finds and an episode from Granada Television's 'The Lost Centuries' which features Brian Hope-Taylor returning to the Ad Gefrin site.
In 2009, through the generosity of English Heritage, Northumberland National Park and Northumberland County Council, the Gefrin Trust was able to mount a small travelling exhibition at museums within the region. The exhibition celebrates the recent work that the Trust had been undertaking on such aspects of the site as aerial photography and geophysical prospection, together with many of the finds from the site that have recently been ‘rediscovered’.
The magnificent goat head gateposts and other carvings you will see at the site are the work of local artist Eddie Robb. As well as the goat heads you can find a carving of the head of a Saxon warrior and representations of the 'Bamburgh Beast'.
We all agree that these touches add immensely to the impact of the work of Gefrin Trust at the site. They are very much in the style and spirit of the illustrations done be Brian Hope-Taylor himself in the pages of his book 'Yeavering, An Anglo-British centre of early Northumbria'
The safe keeping of the site of the Anglian palace is now assured. It will no longer be under the threat of ploughing or quarrying. Perhaps the future will see the field to the south of the protected site included in the scheme too. This field shows a number of very interesting crop marks including the footprint of a henge structure. To quote Brian Hope-Taylor...
"Still, that part of Ad Gefrin which lies to the south of the Wooler-Kirknewton road remains uninvestigated. Outlying buildings of the royal township are manifested annually, whatever the farmer's sowing. More important is the clear indication that excavation would also yield material for elucidation of the shadowy period roughly from 500BC to AD500" (Hope-Taylor HMSO London 1977).