SAINT BEDE - Art, Crafts, Drama and Literature

St BedeThe Festival programme celebrates the arts and crafts of Northumbria's Golden Age with a programme of hands-on” crafts activities and demonstrations, displays, specially commissioned drama, music and song.

Many of the activities are the work of local community groups including a spectacular floral art show, displays of calligraphy and basketworking, entertaining performances and a traditional Northumbrian proggy mat”, or rag rug, intricately worked to represent a page from the Lindisfarne Gospels.

We have chosen the scholar-monk Bede of Jarrow to represent the flowering of Northumbrian art and culture.

As a young boy, Bede became a novice monk at Jarrow Monastery on the Tyne, where he remained for the rest of his life. It is said that he left Jarrow only three times.

For more information about life and work in the time of Bede visit

Bede was the greatest scholar in Anglo-Saxon Britain. He wrote many books but is most famous for compiling the first history of the English Church and People, which is still the primary source for information about the period.

In the days before the invention of printing books had to be laboriously written by hand on parchment made from the skins of animals. Because they were hand-made, all books were considered valuable but the most special, such as the Lindisfarne Gospels, contained beautifully illuminated pages decorated with intricate patterns.

The coloured inks were composed from plants, minerals and metals. The bindings were encrusted with precious jewels brought to Northumbria from all over the known world to Northumbria from all over the known world.

As well as magnificent manuscripts, the Golden Age of Northumbria produced wonderful art in many forms including bronze, silver and gold jewellery, scultpured stone crosses and intricately carved ivory objects. The distinctive interlaced designs were influenced by the native Celtic culture.

The first English poetry and epic tales like “Beowulf” were written down in this period. Bede has been chosen as our “icon” saint to represent the elements of the Golden Age of Northumbria Festival that celebrate Anglo- Saxon arts and crafts.


Programme of Events

Art, Crafts, Drama and Literature

Bede's Festival St. Bede’s Festival

Saturday 24th-Monday 26th May, 11.00am-4.00pm - Ford and Etal Estates

Over the Late Spring Bank Holiday the villages of Ford and Etal are hosting a variety of activities and events celebrating the arts and crafts of the Anglo- Saxon period.

The Lady Waterford Hall in Ford, with its beautiful murals of biblical scenes, is the setting for displays and “activities exploring all aspects of the making of manuscripts presented by Bede's World Education Service and the Border Calligraphers. Visitors can try their hand at calligraphy and Celtic design and learn how parchment, inks and colour pigments were produced in the period.

Other activities during the weekend include opportunities to try weaving on an Anglo-Saxon loom with Ian and Hazel Uzzell of Vikingsaga and to watch demonstrations of basket-weaving using designs inspired by the period.

There are also displays telling the story of Saint Bede and children’s art based on the Northumberland Flag, which has its origins in the time of King Oswald.

During the weekend costumed re-enactors from St. Cuthbert's Land show Anglo-Saxon craft skills and present story-telling and music of the period.

Early methods of corn-grinding and bread-making are demonstrated at the restored 19th century Heatherslaw cornmill.

Find out more about Heatherslaw Mill and Ford and Etal Estates

FREE ADMISSION TO ALL EVENTS (charge for entry to Heatherslaw Mill)

Making of St Cuthberts The Making of St. Cuthbert

Friday 20th June, 7.30pm - Coldingham Village Hall

Berwick Museum Theatre Group take an irreverent look at the origins of the Cult of St. Cuthbert.


The Laidley Worm The Laidley Worm of Spindlestone

Saturday 21st June, 11.30am - Seahouses (In association with Seahouses Festival)
Saturday 28th June, 11.30am - Belford

The streets of Belford and Seahouses are the setting for an entertaining performance of a traditional local tale.

The story of King Ida of Bamburgh, his son Childewynd and the Laidley Worm is presented by members of local community group the Belford Players in the style of a medieval mystery play.


Festival of Flowers Festival of Flowers

Friday 4th-Sunday 6th July, 11.00am-4.00pm - St. Andrew's Wallace Green Church, Berwick-upon-Tweed

Spectacular displays arranged by Berwick and District Floral Art Club interpret a wide selection of themes from Northumbria’s Golden Age.