Accessing Aidan, a remarkable partnership project to develop the crypt of St Aidans 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 National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) 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 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 removed 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 travelling exhibition culminating in an academic symposium in 2021.
Christopher Turner, churchwarden for St Aidans, said: As one of the partners involved in submitting this application to the NLHF, we are most grateful for the money that is being made available. Since the Bowl Hole Ossuary was created, we have had many visitors asking to view it but unfortunately, due to safety reasons, we have been unable to allow people access.
Thanks to many years of hard work by several organisations and the successful grant application, we will once again be able to welcome the public to our fascinating crypt. The hope is that this will attract even more visitors to Bamburgh, and they will have the opportunity to discover the historical importance of the church and crypt to our local area.
Local County Councillor 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 NLHF 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 enables access to the beautiful 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 a fitting tribute to Jude, who was very much loved and is greatly missed.