Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The Gathering

The Gathering -  April 16 2013

Another successful event took place at Cairns Community Hall. This time, under the NIACE funded project,59 people came together to celebrate local heritage and the recent achievements of local learners in their Heritage Skill Classes.

We were once again delighted to welcome Stewart Ainsworth, our ever supportive President, who inspired us with a presentation about the local archaeological landscape.

Describing the area as "a stunning example of landscape archaeology",he set the Epiacum site in a wider and vibrant historical landscape and uncovered many previously unknown areas of archaeological significance, such as Alston's Norman Castle and, what he described as a "large" settlement at Gossipgate.  LIDAR imaging demonstrated the fantastic eathworks that are all around us.
Following on from Stewart, Paul Frodsham (Epiacum Director & North Pennines AONB) described how the "Altogether Archaeology" project is enabling people to engage with the research that Stewart has done. Archaeological digs have taken place around the North Pennines, including work on the Maiden Way near Epiacum last year and at Long Meg Stone Circle.

After a fantastic lunch, provided by Blue Sheep Catering, Alston, there were opportunities to have a go at heritage skills such as feltmaking, peg loom weaving & Rag Rug Making. Deb Bell was on hand to talk about here interest in Dowsing too. Learners Fiona Gifford, Rosie Howie & Jill Durnford all demonstrated skills they had taken up as part of our project and this casued much interest and participation.

Ben Dyson, a post Graduate from Newcastle University,has been working with us for 3 months and he showed his work on the LIDAR imaging to interested listeners, helping them to understand and interpret what, at first glance, appears a complex resource.
Alastair Robertson showed his extensive historical research and archive documents about the local area. It was great to share local heritage stories with new audiences, including Cumbria Blue Badge Guides, who uses the event as part of their CPD training - one commented that the event was "the best CPD training day they had ever had" - high prasie for us at Epiacum, which demonstrates the untapped heritage and tourism reousrces in the local area! Our project aims to promote the Epiacum site and local areas as a potential tourist destination and to build a volunteer base to support us on our journey to bigger things!

One significant learning activity during the day was a workshop by ZapActive, a newly formed Alston buisness. In a workshop called "A Quick Response to Hidden Heritage",Mark & Irene Lawrence showed how QR codes could assist in interpreting diverse sites. The room was full of people, many who had never heard of a QR code before, let alone used them. Here is ours.................... if you have a Smart Phone, download a QR reader app and scan it and see  where it takes you! We hope in the future to use these to improve interpretation on the site. Due to the fact that the site is a Scheduled Ancient Monument, we can't even contemplate putting traditional information panels up there................these could the answer!! 
Another great day.............................................what's next???

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