TillVAS Till Valley Archaeological Society
TillVAS             Till Valley Archaeological Society

Patron: Rt. Hon. Lord Joicey                                             www.tillvas.com                                       

Hon. President   : Dr. Chris Burgess                                


Latest Newsletter

April 2022



6 th April 2022, live in Crookham Village Hall AGM at 6.45 and talk at 7.30 pm


Richard Carlton: “The final season of TillVAS excavations at Mardon Hill Iron Age enclosure in 2021”


Richard Carlton needs little or no introduction to TillVAS members, as we have benefited from working with him on our recent digs and he has been generous in supporting other activities including the Primitive Pottery Workshop and Iron Age Day in 2019.


 The TillVAS excavations on Mardon Hill, at an Iron Age site revealed as crop marks in an aerial survey, were undertaken as part of the Village Atlas project, but delayed in 2019 by a refusal of funding and again, inevitably, in 2020 when Covid struck.


His talk will focus on the final season of digging at Mardon in August 2021, and summarise the overall results derived from this and the two previous seasons in 2017 and 2018.


The room will be well-ventilated so please wrap up warm. We have decided not to provide refreshments at meetings for the time being, but will keep this under review.





Saturday 9th and Saturday 16th April 2022 10.00am to 15.00pm.


Here is some more information about our Open Days at Ford Forge. There is free car parking in the Heatherslaw visitor car parks and refreshments are available in the Boes Café across the river at Heatherslaw Mill. Our new premises are in the building facing the road adjacent to the Heatherslaw Railway. It formed part of a rural industrial hamlet from the eighteenth to the midtwentieth centuries. The industries made use of the water and water power provided by the River Till and included textile processing, spade and nail making, a sawmill and joinery. 


We will have archaeological displays, one of which will cover our three seasons dig at the Iron Age enclosure on Mardon Hill. We plan activities suitable mainly but not exclusively for children: have a go at spinning, weaving, bead making, dissecting “poo”, and a trowel treasure hunt. There is also a Building Quiz in which children can try for a prize. We hope that one of the 2 dates will suit you. Please come and see what we have been up to.





Over three sunny March days, a small but hardy team of volunteers cleaned the chapel area between the path above and the river below, despite very muddy conditions. The “walls” are now more exposed but the “floor” of the chapel is affected by several springs and a lot of mud. It was impossible to get to any floor surface and there must be doubt whether this was the actual chapel site.


In The Border Tower published in 1897, the Revd. Hastings Neville, then Rector of Ford Church, wrote “The foundation of the old Chantry cannot now be seen. It lies under the path you tread on.” 





Duddo farm trailer tour: Thurs 12th May 6.30 to 8.30pm

You may remember that we advertised this tour for early July last year, but the unexpected extension of Covid restrictions prevented it from going ahead. Duddo farmer Frank Dakin has kindly renewed his offer to TillVAS and the local community to provide a trailer tour in and around Duddo Farm.


The tour will include Duddo Stone Circle, Duddo Tower, and the opportunity to see artefacts found in the area including a recently discovered Bronze Age axehead. There will be a commentary about modern farming methods and how they can be integrated into the ancient landscape. No walking is involved, and comfy straw bale seating will be provided on the trailer. Please be aware that you need to be reasonably fit to get up onto the trailer. If you are unsure or wish to know further details please email Ray at the booking address below.


A donation of £10 per adult is requested – all monies raised will go towards Ford Church. Children aged 10 – 17 go FREE but must be accompanied by an adult. The tour is not suitable for children under the age of 10.


Meet at Duddo Farm 6pm where you will be shown where to park. Donation in cash is preferred on arrival at the farm. If the weather is bad on the 12th May the tour will take place on 13th May. Numbers are limited so please book early to secure a place by contacting rayclarke39@gmail.com





Most readers of this Newsletter will know Heatherslaw Mill, one of the main visitor attractions on the Ford and Etal Estates. There has been a water-powered cornmill on the site for hundreds of years, and the current mill dates from the nineteenth century. In the latter part of the last century, it was restored to full working order and now produces about ten tons of flour a year using traditional methods.


During the first Covid lockdown the milling team played a most important role in maintaining supplies of flour for home bakers in the local area. The milling team are very ambitious. They want to concentrate on producing their amazing flour, while at the same time enhancing the visitor experience at the mill. They are therefore looking for potential recruits with a real interest in heritage and history to help them by engaging fully with visitors during the summer season.


Would you like to volunteer at one of Northumberland’s most unique visitor attractions? Are you happy talking to the public? Can you spare a few hours a week? If you are interested, please contact the Head Miller, Rob Porteous, for full details. Email – miller@ford-and-etal.co.uk Mobile – 07909 406792



Family Quiz


Thank you to Alfie, Lily, Mabel and Val for sending in such good names and sayings for last month’s quiz. Your answers will be on display at our open days on the 9th and 16th April.


April Challenge People in the past had to work hard to earn money, just as we do now. Some old occupations have now died out because of modern machinery and new inventions – for example, do we still need switchboard operators or knocker-uppers? If anyone can think of 5 occupations which are no longer needed in Britain today, then please email Heather at nordlaw76@aol.com to get a code for your challenge booklet





April 2022 4 th April Border Archaeological Society Dr. Tanja Romankiewicz of Edinburgh University: “Iron Age Round Houses”. Berwick Parish Centre – 7.30pm.


Bowsden History Group Jacqueline Kurio: “Louisa Waterford and the Mystery of the Labyrinth”. Bowsden Village Hall – 7.30pm. NB! Booking in advance by email/text is essential, to Nick Jones, Programme Secretary Email : nicolasjbjones@gmail.com. Text: 07889 509324. A contribution of £2 is asked, and attendees will be asked to wear masks.


5th April Yetholm History Society Catherine Maxwell-Stuart and Margaret Fox: “A Family Life Revealed: the Stuarts at Traquair”. Wauchope Hall, Town Yetholm High Street – 7.30pm. £2 for non-members.


11th April Lowick Heritage Group: Playlet: Julie Gibbs with Cast: “Two Hundred Years of Lowick Lime”. Lowick Village Hall – 7.30pm.


13th April Glendale Local History Society: Kristian Pedersen: “Iron Age Northumberland and the Excavations at Hunting Hall, Lowick” (and AGM). Cheviot Centre, Padgepool Place, Wooler- 7.30pm. Attendees will be asked to wear face masks.


May 2022 4 th May TillVAS Dr David Petts of Durham University: “Belief in the North East: recent work on a community archaeology project”. Crookham Village Hall – 7.30pm.









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TillVAS webinars


We are returning to our zoom talks for the winter moneths. Our next webinar will be on Wednesday 3rd February.

Our speaker will be

Emily Freeman from the National Museum of Scotland  talking about

Treasure Trove.


The Society has an extensive collection of documents and photographs held in its secure archives. These are invaluable for members wishing to study the local history of the area or wishing to gather information for e.g. the  Village Atlas Project. Please click on the tag above to see the catalogues. Anyone wishing to access the archives should contact the Society's Archivist, Julia Day.

Please click on the Latest Newsletter page to see 'whats on' information for the current month.


This is temporarily unavailable due to Covid restrictions. Anyone wishing to ask about publications please use the contact form