So our first two C’s are both Roman roads, Catkill Lane and Cades road, we’ll also look at Dere Street– even though it doesn’t begin with C!
Right then to get our non C out of the way I’ll start with Dere Street. It is the main Roman road leading North from York, to Newcastle. It crosses the Tees at Piercebridge which is just outside our area but well worth a visit. Last summer we were lucky to be invited to take part in a living history event at Piercebridge organised by River Tees Rediscovered did any of you attend? It then leads to the fort at Binchester near Bishop Auckland, most of its route that passes through the western edge of the Discover Brightwater is still in use as modern roads.
Cades road is another North-South Roman Route that was proposed by John Cade in the late 1700s hence the name. He said there was evidence of another Roman route running from the Humber, past York, across the Tees at either Middleton St George or Sockburn. It then runs through the Discover Brightwater area at Sadberge and passes Sedgefield, before continuing North towards Durham and Chester Le Street, ultimately to the Tyne. Sedgefield is a site of some kind of Roman settlement, so far no evidence has been uncovered to link it to a military settlement making it the furthest north civilian settlement in known existence. Now new evidence can always be found to either help confirm it as a civilian settlement or perhaps link it to a military site which is why it’s one of our main sites for archaeological activity. Did any of you join us and our archaeological partners Dig Ventures last spring at East Park?, We’ll be back for a second season as soon as we can.
Our next C and the final Roman road is Catkill Lane, it’s one of possibly a few link roads between Cades road and Dere street that run across our patch. Catkill lane branches off from Cades road just north of Sadberge and heads towards Binchester, it crosses the Skerne and continues west through modern-day Newton Aycliffe. Perhaps following the route of Moore Lane (where we normally run lots of activities at the Eco Centre), part of Shafto way, on through Burn lane and Old Eldon before joining up with Dere Street. Incidentally, does anyone know if Shafto way is indeed linked to Bobby Shafto?
Our final C isn’t really history yet but is probably the biggest change that will ever happen in any of our lifetimes that is of course, Covid 19 or the Coronavirus. The weeks that turned into months; we clapped-for-carers every Thursday, Landmarks around the world turned blue to show support to our NHS staff, the kitchen table became a makeshift classroom and all we wanted more than anything was to hug our loved ones.
I thought as it’s such a strange time it would be a great idea to start collecting memories as they happen, the perfect opportunity for us to tell people in the future about our experiences of this unique time. Have you any stories, anecdotes or photo’s you’d happily share with us, they may end up being part of our online museum (Please don’t share anything that you aren’t happy for us to publish now or in the future, they might end up on our website, social media, on-line museum, a magazine or who knows even a book!)
I thought I’d start by sharing one of the strangest experiences I’ve had to date which was attending a socially distanced funeral. My Gran passed in April at the very good age of 94, nothing worked quite the same way as it normally would when someone passes, none of us could pop round to a family member’s house, there’s no hugging of someone who has just lost their mum. And then there was the funeral, only ten people, who had to stand two meters apart, we did our own service and as Gracie Fields’ version of Wish Me Luck As You Wave Me Good-Bye played us out of the graveyard on my cousins Bluetooth speaker, we said quick goodbyes at a distance then jumped into separate cars to go home. The wake was conducted later the same afternoon by zoom, we all had afternoon tea, with flowers and a picture of her next to the laptop or tablet. Here is a photo of us waiting for everyone else to dial in. It was an interesting experience and worked really well considering but it’s not the same as all being together in one room and sharing memories and a few drinks. Has anyone else had any strange experiences, pictures of rainbows from windows in your neighbourhood, examples of people helping each other out? Anything you’d like to share please drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org