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Medieval village lies under the new Lucker Hall in Northumberland

Posted by Luci Ackers on 18 July 2016
Related property: Lucker Hall
Medieval village lies under the new Lucker Hall in Northumberland Medieval village lies under the new Lucker Hall in Northumberland Medieval village lies under the new Lucker Hall in Northumberland Medieval village lies under the new Lucker Hall in Northumberland

Northumberland has a long and interesting history, which is why so many people enjoy visiting – and why we were so excited about Lucker Hall.

What was once a lovely Georgian hall was sadly destroyed in a 1980s fire. But before building work could begin on restoring this site to its former glory, first we had to find out what might lie beneath....

The first reference to a 'Lucker Hall' was back in 1316 when Simon de Lucker built the new building at the pre-existing manor house. The estate was to change hands a number of times before ending up with the Sheriff of Northumberland at the end of the 16th century. There is an inscription above one of the doors that suggests the foundation of the 17th century hall was laid by his son in 1608. It is this structure that stood in place until destroyed by fire, though some of the walls and the dovecote remained from this time. The dovecote and parts of the walled garden have even been incorporated into the design of the new site, so you can still see them today.

A plan of Lucker was drawn a short while after the inscription of 1608 and the layout of the village seemed to show a medieval strip field system. During the recent excavations this did in fact turn out to be the case and the 'tofts and crofts' rectilinear system revealed itself beneath the surface and corresponded to the map's plans.

In spite of this revelation, it seems that it wasn't until the early 19th century that a reliably detailed map of the estate actually appeared. And the layout has remained relatively unchanged from then until very recently. In its time the site has held quite a high status, particularly during the Elizabethan period, it has also been a boarding school, a farmer's residence, and changed hands numerous times. It began to decline after the war and, as we know, was almost completely destroyed by the fire in the 1980s.

The idea behind the 2015 dig was to learn as much and document as much as possible about Lucker's Medieval past and record the findings for others. The archaeologists had three areas of excavation underway and the one that delivered the most results was the site under the walled garden. Garden deposits over the years had raised the ground level, protecting the archaeology below and ensuring there were a lot of well-preserved remains.

A mechanical excavator removed a large amount of the soil before the hand excavation could begin. The site harboured an abundance of finds including pottery and clay pipe fragments, shards of glass and animal bones among other things.

This all tells a lot about what the medieval people of Lucker were buying and consuming, but what was even more revealing was the structural remains that were uncovered: flagstone floors, cobbled surfaces, stone-lined drains etc. from different periods of the hall's history. Part of the 17th century buildings were discovered as well as the foundations of the original hall stables which were demolished by the fire in 1860.

It's quite rare to find Medieval village remains in Northumberland as they are usually built on, and these remains were quite significant ones too, which meant the whole discovery was rather exciting.

The archaeological team held an open event at the site to give the locals an opportunity to come and see what had been discovered. Senior project officer Gavin Robinson was on hand to show visitors around and explain the medieval finds and point out the foundations of this medieval village. Though the discoveries halted the progress, it wasn't for too long. Following the open day Gavin and the team were able to push on with the project. 

And today, Lucker looks magnificent! Why not come and stay here yourself? Simply pop your details in at the bottom of the page to receive a brochure.

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Luci Ackers

Luci Ackers

Luci loves getting out and about for a good cycle ride or easy-going walks in the countryside, and thoroughly enjoyed the time she previously spent working for the National Trust. Her love of writing started from a young age and on rainy days nothing beats curling up in a secret corner with a good book.

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