Accessing Aidan project shares the LOVE

First published on: 15th October 2021

(Left to right) Her Grace, the Duchess of Northumberland, Jane Percy, Carol Griffiths, Revd Louise Taylor-Kenyon, Linda Kirby and Gill Bardgett

A heritage attraction celebrating St Aidan and the incredible legacy he left behind has landed a prestigious award.

The Accessing Aidan project – a joint initiative between St Aidan’s Church, Bamburgh Heritage Trust and a number of other partners – won ‘Best Coast or Countryside project’ at the LOVE Northumberland awards.

Designed to highlight and celebrate projects which improve the local area for the benefit of the community, the awards were presented by Her Grace, the Duchess of Northumberland, Jane Percy at The Alnwick Garden.

In 2019, the beautiful 12th century crypt of St Aidan’s church was reopened to enable the public to visit the new Bamburgh Ossuary and to learn more about the remarkable story of Anglo-Saxon Bamburgh. 

The success of the project has helped publicise a significant part of Bamburgh’s history, namely the arrival of St Aidan and the imperative success the location had in spreading Christianity on a local, national and arguably global scale.

Revd Louise Taylor-Kenyon, Vicar at St Aidan’s Bamburgh, said: “The partnership between St Aidan’s, the Bamburgh Heritage Trust and the AONB has been excellent, and has allowed us to share this amazing history with many more people.  

“It is always a delight to be able to remind people that Bamburgh was a flourishing cosmopolitan Christian community in the 7th & 8th centuries, that some of the people buried in the crypt were contemporaries of St Aidan and this is one of the many ways in which immigration has enriched our culture, spirituality and heritage.”

Jessica Turner, Accessing Aidan project officer, said: “It is brilliant recognition for a fabulous group of community volunteers that worked so hard to get the crypt open in the first place, but also for pulling together over the last year to keep this heritage project relevant. Our message still seems really pertinent - that the gentle and saintly Aidan preached kindness, tolerance and acceptance – a message that is as relevant now as then - and created a multi-cultural community in North East England and this melting pot of ideas and culture resulted in the amazing Golden Age of Northumbria.

“The whole idea of creating the Ossuary and then using the beautiful crypt to interpret our Anglo-Saxon heritage in the way we did came from the community. Our desire was to share and celebrate this remarkable story with the wider community. We feel we’ve created a unique visitor experience but also helped the whole community to be rightly proud of the endeavour of our Anglo-Saxon ancestors.

“Most importantly this project is a partnership of Bamburgh Heritage Trust, Parochial Parish Council for St Aidan’s church, the vicar, the wider diocese, Bamburgh Research Project, Durham University, Northumberland Coast AONB and Northumberland County Council.”

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