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Stackyard News Feb 05

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    New Farm Trail Opens Window Into History Of The Battle For Berwick

The Battle for Berwick is to be the focus of a new farm trail launched with the help of Defra and English Heritage. The trail will provide a window onto the battlefield, using specially designed glass panels.

The Battle of Halidon Hill, fought between the Scots and the English, in July 1333, was one of the deciding battles that finally meant Berwick-Upon-Tweed became England's most northerly town. Now tenant farmers Nigel and Lynn Dudgeon, of Conundrum, the most northerly farm in England, have joined forces with Defra and English Heritage to launch a new trail in and around the Halidon Hill Battlefield.

The couple's farm is already a popular attraction for visitors boasting the Conundrum Farm Trail, which was launched in 1998 with a farm visitor centre. The fly fishery opened the following year, and a barn shop and licensed restaurant was added in 2002, with the help of a Rural Enterprise Scheme grant from Defra.

Through a Countryside Stewardship agreement, the couple has now added new permissive access routes to allow visitors the chance to walk around the battlefield and special, see-through interpretive panels created with the help of The Design Quarter, a design and marketing consultancy based in north Northumberland.

Nigel Dudgeon said:

"Our existing farm trail, fly fishery, shop and restaurant are already proving to be very popular with visitors and this seemed a logical progression providing greater access for visitors enabling them to find out more about the history of the local area. We now feel there is something for everyone at Conundrum.

"It really is a lovely walk. There are several routes you can take with some fantastic views right into the heart of the Scottish Borders and towards the coast you can see the town of Berwick, Bamburgh Castle and Holy Island.

"Visitors can park their cars at the car park near the shop and restaurant to pick up a battle leaflet and map before heading off to enjoy the new trail. Obviously, we'd love to welcome them for refreshments either before or after their walk."

Steve Pullan, an adviser at Defra's Rural Development Service in the North East, said:

"The Dudgeons have already realised the benefits of diversifying to ensure a sustainable future for their business.

"Through CSS they are now safeguarding an important historical site and allowing visitors the chance to learn more about their heritage while increasing the appeal of their farm as a visitor attraction. The new trail is just one part of Conundrum's CSS agreement, which also includes tree planting, hedging, stone wall restoration and extensive habitat improvement for wild birds and animals."

Kate Wilson, of English Heritage, said:

"Halidon Hill is one of 43 battlefields on the English Heritage Register of Historic Battlefields. The register is designed to draw attention to the importance of English battlefields and the need to conserve their archaeology, topography and setting."

The Design Quarter managed the project of setting up the panels or 'windows' from concept through to installation, using modern materials to create windows on the natural landscape through which visitors can view the battle site from the soldiers' perspective.

The company researched all aspects of the battle, working with experts from the Royal Armouries, English Heritage and Defra.

The battle is regarded as one of the greatest disasters in Scottish history and the surrender of Berwick followed immediately afterwards.

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