‘Accessing Aidan’, a remarkable partnership project to develop the crypt of St. Aidan's
Church, Bamburgh into a beautiful interpretation space, has been awarded a grant of
£355,600 by the National Lottery.
Made possible by National Lottery players, the grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)
will enable the Northumberland Coast AONB Partnership, St. Aidan’s Parochial Church
Council, Bamburgh Heritage Trust and Northumberland County Council to work together to
reopen the beautiful 12th century crypt to the public once again.
The ambition is to use projection and interactive technology to tell the fabulous story of
Bamburgh. The central message of the interpretation will concentrate on the Bowl Hole
Ossuary, created in 2016 in the small second crypt. This is the last resting place of the
people who lived in Bamburgh 1,400 years ago, when it was the cosmopolitan centre of
Anglo-Saxon Northumbria. Just like today, people lived and worked in the spectacular
coastal village or travelled from far and wide to visit and enjoy its treasures.
In addition access to the crypt will be improved, there will be new interpretation at the rear of
the church, and a 21st century digital ossuary will be created to enable the public to
interrogate the wealth of osteological data recovered from the early Anglo-Saxon Bowl Hole
cemetery. The funded project will run for three years and will include an ambitious schools
programme, events, lectures and a traveling exhibition culminating in an academic
symposium in 2021.
County Councillor for the Bamburgh ward and member of the AONB Partnership, Cllr Guy
Renner-Thompson said: “This is such an exciting and extraordinary opportunity to celebrate
the remarkable heritage of Bamburgh in a new and innovative way. Hundreds of thousands
of visitors come to Bamburgh and only a small percentage know about Bamburgh’s
significance during the Anglo-Saxon period. We really hope this project will enable people to
see how central Bamburgh was in relation to our great northern Christian heritage.”
Ivor Crowther, Head of HLF North East, said: “Thanks to money raised by National Lottery
players we are very pleased to be able to support Accessing Aidan. This is an important
project that addresses Bamburgh’s Anglo-Saxon significance, as well as enabling access to
the interesting and atmospheric crypt.”
The project’s success is testimony to years of hard work by dedicated volunteers from both
Bamburgh Heritage Trust and St Aidan’s Parochial Church Council. The initial efforts were
led by Jude Aldred, who sadly passed away in June. It is envisaged now that this project will
serve as fitting tribute to Jude who was much loved and is greatly missed.