School pupils living near The Northumberland Line have gone back in time to learn about the archaeology of the rail line project, as well as finding out how it is being constructed to discover future career options.
Up to 400 children from eight schools in the South East of the county have taken part in interactive archaeology sessions – after the discovery last year of an Iron Age settlement at
Newsham during planned archaeological excavations for the rail scheme.
Teams from the council, Wessex Archaeology, and contractor Morgan Sindall Infrastructure, gave pupils a chance to handle artefacts uncovered,
and have a go at interactive bridge building, giving the young people an opportunity to meet experts working on the project and hopefully be inspired to follow in their footsteps.
Glen Sanderson, Leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “As work continues apace on this flagship scheme, teams have unearthed some fascinating insights into the area’s past.
“Their outreach events in local communities have been very well received, with over 500 people attending over recent months.
“As we look towards our future it’s vital we also study the past and that is why the archaeological work has very much been a pre-planned part of the programme.
“A key aim of the whole Northumberland Line programme is engaging with communities along the route and hopefully these school events inspired some of our young people into future careers in science, archaeology and engineering.”
Assistant County Archaeologist Nick Best said: “The excavations at Newsham Station are a reminder that important archaeological remains are all around us in Northumberland and not confined to the
stone castles along our coastline or the monuments of the Hadrian's Wall frontier.
“Archaeological remains are often identified through the construction process and it's not always possible to share the results of excavations with local communities at the time of their discovery.
"The school workshop programme has allowed us to share the results of archaeological work at Newsham with the next generation of archaeologists and to explain a little more about career options they may one day consider in the heritage and engineering sectors.”
The Northumberland Line scheme, which along with new stations, will deliver 18 miles of upgraded track, access improvements and new signal locations, is due to be open in summer 2024.
It's planned to run a half hourly passenger service between Newcastle and Ashington – stopping at Bedlington, Bebside, Newsham, Seaton Delaval and Northumberland Park along the way.
Emily Eastwood, Project Manager at Wessex Archaeology, said: “Our excavations for the Northumberland Line have added to our understanding of the environment, life and practices of the people who lived in South East Northumberland hundreds and even thousands of years ago.
“Throughout the project we’ve worked with partners to share these discoveries with the community, so they too can experience their local heritage first-hand.”
Stations contractor Morgan Sindall Infrastructure said: “As part of our commitment to enhancing communities, we’re really pleased to have sponsored and supported this series of exciting workshops with local schools.
“They provided a great opportunity for young people locally to further explore what life would have been like for these ancient communities. It’s a great example of working in partnership with our supply chain partners Wessex Archaeology and Northumberland County Council, to raise understanding and aspirations around future career pathways in the construction industry and beyond.”