More tales from Northumberland: Robson goes diving for buried treasure
Published: Tuesday 10th Mar 2015
Written by: The Grace Darling Holidays Team
Robson Green has been unearthing some hidden gems located in Northumberland in the TV programme More Tales From Northumberland over the last few weeks – but in the latest episode the TV star quite literally searched for buried treasure!
England has more wrecks per mile of coastline than anywhere else in world, and Northumberland itself has one of most treacherous stretches of water in Britain, making home to plenty of wrecks – many of which are situated at the Farne Islands.
Heading out to the port of Seahouses, Robson met up with shipwreck diver Andy Hunt, to delve deep into the waters around these parts to see if they could uncover any hidden treasure.
Shipwrecks are part of Farne Island folklore, largely due to the efforts of lighthouse keeper’s daughter Grace Darling – who Grace Darling Holidays is named after – who in 1838 braved stormy sea in a tiny boat in a bid to rescue people from shipwrecked Forfarshire.
Experienced diver Robson was first of all shown round the ruins of the SS Coryton, which was sunk by the German Luftwaffe in 1941.
The pair also headed along to an incredible site which is home to a group of cannons around the Gun Rocks wreck in the Farne Islands. Found by amateur divers 40 years ago, the cannons were thought to be from the Spanish Armada warships, but experts now thing they could have come from a Dutch cargo ship instead.
The underwater site is now part of an archaeological research project by English Heritage, and one of the cannons salvaged can even be found taking pride of place at Bamburgh Castle.
After diving deep, it was time to dig deep, as Robson found out about the fascinating Roman relics that have been unearthed in Northumberland, including the Corbridge Hoard.
The Corbridge Hoard was discovered in Hadrian’s Wall Country by a group of college students in the 1960s, who had been sent on an excavation exercise by their tutor.
A true ‘Roman time capsule’, almost 2,000-years-old it was filled with the contents of a Roman workshop and a Roman soldier's worldly goods, such as armour, tools, weaponry, wax writing tablets and papyrus.
It is one of the best preserved examples of Roman armour in history and enabled archaeologists to find out for the first time how this type of armour was constructed.
Robson’s search for relics wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Vindolanda, a ‘live’ archaeological site, where for the last 40 years items have been discovered on a daily basis, making it one of the most important archaeological sites in the world.
One of the most important finds here was the Vindolanda Tablet, the oldest surviving handwritten tablet in Britain, giving a real, personal account of what life was really like for a Roman soldier.
Digs continue at Vindolanda today – and many more treasures could still be hidden, waiting to be found.
“You never know which part you’re going to play in making history and changing history, and changing our perceptions of the past,” Andrew Birley, an archaeologist and historian, and director of excavations for the Vindolanda Trust, explained.
Robson’s final stop this week was on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, an important centre of Christianity which remains a place of pilgrimage today for those seeking peace.
But despite its tranquil nature, Lindisfarne has a history that’s as dark and stormy as the North Sea itself.
In AD 793, invaders from the north landed at a beach at Lindisfarne, raiding the monastery, murdering monks, burning buildings and stealing treasures.
As savage as the history is, now, every summer, a Viking invasion takes place annually – albeit in a much friendlier, light-hearted manner, with re-enactments being staged at Lindisfarne Priory.
After meeting up with some of the enthusiasts who gather here, and learning about how the Viking invasion and Norwegian language has influenced Geordie dialect, it was time for Robson to bid farewell for another week.
Next time on More Tales From Northumberland he’ll be meeting the railwaymen, farmers and boat builders helping to keep Northumberland’s industrial heritage alive.
- Did you miss Tales From Northumberland? Watch on the ITV Player now Episode 4
- Find your perfect Northumbrian base for your next trip with Grace Darling Holidays
- Find out more about the Corbridge Hoard and Hadrian’s Wall from English Heritage’s site The Corbridge Hoard: A Roman Time Capsule
- Learn about the Vindolanda Trust here Roman Vindolanda and Roman Army Museum
- Find out more about the Holy Island of Lindisfarne https://www.lindisfarne.org.uk/