‘Yeavering Bell’ is the name of an off-grid house in my debut novel ‘100 People,’ named after the Cheviot hill of the same name. The house in the novel is a composite of three houses: two are derelict and in Cumbria, one is a remote family home in the Northumberland National Park. I’ve come to know and love these three houses over a long period of time, I’ve loved giving the two derelict houses another life in words.
Throughout the research for 100 People I’ve been helped by my dear friend, Chris Garrand. Chris is an architect and architectural historian specialising in all aspects of the conservation of historic buildings and places, from the large scale of area-based assessments to the minutiae of historic fabric repair. Here’s one of his more recent projects: Swiss Garden. Another source of research material has been Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space, a book I’ve returned to many times.
At Yeavering, the consistency of the weather and grass in the landscape, is all that seems left , in an obvious way, to describe ‘what by any standards has to be one of the most impressive archaeological landscapes in England’ Paul Frodsham ( Forgetting Gefrin: Elements of the Past in the Past at Yeavering), the site had already been occupied for thousands of years before it became an Anglo Saxon palace ( known as Ad Gefrin ), stated in the Past Perfect web site as having attracted cremation burials, ritual pits, burial mounds and a stone circle, with Paulinus baptising converts for 36 days in the River Glen. How to understand this very different land? in the end I sat and drew in the middle of the large field, formerly Ad Gefrin, letting the wind do the drawing for me, hands blown back by the force . The small butts of feathery grass constantly moving, in one determined direction, made me reflect of the amount of collective human endeavor, that had taken place in this large and beautiful field. Ad Gefrin is overlooked and at first glance protected by Yeavering Bell but maybe in parallel with Bamburgh Castle and its village lying next to it, it also supports it and draws from it, in equal measures. From ‘Bamburgh and Yeavering’ by visualenglaid.wordpress.com