Historical Research in Northumberland
When my husband and I went on holiday a couple of weeks ago to Northumberland, I didn’t realise it would become a research trip!
Northumberland is a place I’ve always wanted to visit. I’ve mentioned visiting Cumbria a lot. Not just because of it is a stunning location, but because it is the modern-day equivalent of Rheged, the setting of much of my historical fiction series. Northumberland, then, is where much of the enemy kingdom, Bernicia, was based. A big battle in my first book, The Boy from the Snow, actually takes place in Lindasfarne.
Historical Research in Lindasfarne and Bamburgh
Before visiting Lindasfarne itself, we also headed to Bamburgh Castle. If we’d had the time, we would have explored inside the castle, but it still made for a lovely walk around the grounds. It was exciting to see this, as Ethelfrith, an antagonist in my series, gave the castle to his wife, Bebba. The town’s original name of Bebbanburg was also inspired by this.
You can imagine how excited I was to finally visit Lindasfarne, on a gloriously sunny day. Now, I have to be honest – I loved visiting the castle itself, but the actual exhibition was a little anticlimactic. As a lover of the Dark Ages/early medieval history, it was therefore a little disappointing that the exhibits were based around Edward Hudson in 1901 who renovated the castle. This still made an interesting visit, but not what I had been expecting. It was still wonderful to walk through the structure of the castle itself and the view from the top was stunning. It was also lovely to bump into friends.
The most exciting part of the day was actually visiting the Lindasfarne Centre and the Lindasfarne Priory Museum and Ruins. It was thrilling to learn about about the Lindasfarne Gospels and about St Cuthbert and St Aiden. In fact, I’m now doing more research, thinking my characters may return to Lindasfarne at a later date to meet these saints. Walking through the Priory Ruins was beautiful and it definitely inspired my setting. I also had a great chat with the manager in the Lindasfarne Centre and she is very kindly interested in stocking my books at the gift shop.
A couple of days later, my husband and I also visited the Ad Gefrin Museum. This was the most thrilling day, in terms of historical research! Ad Gefrin was a royal palace, first thought to be built by King Ethelfrith. Later Edwin, who is a primary character in my 4th novel, resided there. (Head here for a blog post about Edwin).
It really was like stepping back through history. The staff were incredibly friendly and I had a really interesting chat with one of them. One room is full of historical details and artefacts, while the other is a reconstruction of a grand hall, complete with a 2-part film by a reenactment group. The quality of this was stunning and it made for wonderful research. In fact I was so inspired, I might have to include it as a setting in book 5 of my series.
Thanks for Reading!
Thanks so much for reading! It was an almost magical experience visiting these historical locations. If you’re a writer, have you ever visited locations in your books? How did you find it? Or readers, do you enjoy visiting locations mentioned in books? Why not get in touch to let me know? You can drop a comment or hit my social media icons below, or you can head to my contact me page.
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Till next time,