Beginning in June 2011 Sheep Tales and Spinning Yarns is a heritage project of United Reformed Churches in North Northumberland in partnership community artists. The project is funded by Heritage Lottery to celebrate, record and learn about the sheep and shepherding history in the Glendale and surrounding areas. Sheep are integral to the environment, economy, and culture of Northumberland today and the same was true 2000 years ago in what we now call the Holy Land. It is for this reason that images of sheep and shepherding are so prevalent in the Bible.
Drawing upon local peoples memories, historical books and old photographs history will be shared and archived to enrich current and future generations. Local crafts people and artists will be running workshops producing wool based articles for display and practical use. Craft skills have been passed on, and new felt wall hangings created. Both the local community and schools are invited to participate. Farms opened their doors and sheds to volunteers and visitors to learn about both historical and contemporary sheep farming practices. The project initiated a weekly craft support group in Wooler and a ‘Wool in Wooler’ craft fare during the Glendale Festival. Pilgrims from across the North East explored the heritage of the Presbyterian church which served the shepherding community during a July pilgrimage to the Preaching Trees near Rothbury. The project won first price for exhibitors at the Glendale Show August 2012.
The historical and current shepherding heritage has been recorded by photographs and audio recordings, with workshops run in both photography and oral history recording. A cross curricular resource kit is available for schools to access and use in first schools together with a Shephert’s Kisk, of traditional shepherding objects.
An archive has been created with the help of Northumberland County Council Berwick Archives, and much of the material is are available to view on our website www.sheeptales.org.uk where you can learn about the activities. An exhibition is currently to be viewed at Bambough Castle during the 2012/ 2013 winter.