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Programme of events to celebrate the Lindisfarne Gospels and Hadrian’s Wall announced

3rd October 2022

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An exciting programme of events has been announced across NewcastleGateshead as part of this year’s Being Human Festival.

From the history of pioneering inventions to ground-breaking literature and art, this year’s festival will take place between 10th and 19th November 2022 and will celebrate two of the region’s landmark treasures – the Lindisfarne Gospels and Hadrian’s Wall.

The Being Human Festival, held across the country each November, demonstrates and celebrates the ways in which humanities-based subjects, which include language and literature, history, geography, philosophy, archaeology, anthropology, law, religion and art, inspire and enrich our everyday lives.

Northumbria University was named one of only five institutions selected as a hub for the UK’s 2022 festival of humanities.

The University is working in partnership with Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM), alongside St. James' Heritage and Environment Group, bookbinder Alexandra Marsden, and LEGO artist Steve Mays of Brick This to organise and host the events.

Northumbria’s programme will celebrate the return of the Lindisfarne Gospels, the most spectacular surviving Anglo-Saxon manuscript, and 1900 years since construction began on Hadrian’s Wall, the preeminent monument of Roman Britain.

This series of festival events and activities will explore how we can use the Gospels and the Wall as tools for asking fundamental questions about humanity, and for thinking about what breakthroughs look and feel like today.


This year’s programme of events will include:

Late at the Great North Museum: Hancock

Date: 10th November 2022 from 6pm

Venue: Great North Museum: Hancock, Newcastle Upon Tyne

Details: Kicking off Northumbria's programme of free events is a headline event at Newcastle University's Great North Museum: Hancock, celebrating the year-long festival marking the 1900th anniversary of Hadrian’s Wall. Booking is not required for the ‘Late’, but some individual activities do require booking.

Activities include:

- Gannin' Alang the Wall

- Building Models of Community Identity with LEGO

- The Language of the Lindisfarne Gospels

- Rebuilding Hadrian's Wall with LEGO (and runs on Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th November as well as Saturday 19th November)  

From You to Me

In addition to the events above, academics from Newcastle University will be sharing some of their most recent ‘breakthrough’ research projects, including living buildings, fermentation in food production, feminism in ancient Greek mythology and even the mystery of black holes. The public are invited to find out more though a variety of activities, including dance and choral performances, film screenings, meditation and even wine tasting.

Walking the West End Wall

Date: 12th November 2022

Venue: St James' Church, 28 Benwell Lane, Newcastle Upon Tyne

Details: Embark on this Walking the West End Wall walking tour of Hadrian’s Wall in Newcastle, 1900 years after construction began. Beginning and ending at St James’ Church, Benwell, this 90-minute guided circular walk will reveal the hidden heritage of the West End of Newcastle, where a Roman fort and associated civilian settlement formed part of the frontier of the Roman Empire for 300 years from the second century AD.

Along the way you will discover the remains of a temple dedicated to the Geordie god, Antenociticus, who was worshipped by the Romans. You will also see the remains of the Vallum crossing – the entrance to the civilian settlement that crossed a great ditch – which is now tucked away among modern housing.

Books as Treasures (Children’s Workshop and Ages 16+)

Date: 12th November 2022

Venue: Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead

Details: This hands-on activity will begin with short introductory examples exploring how physical books can help us unlock information about their creators, authors, and owners, followed by a hands-on activity led by local bookbinder, Alex Marsden. Participants will learn how to bind and decorate a book in a way that showcases their own tastes and interests. This workshop will be led by book historians from Northumbria University’s English staff and is part of the Inspired by Lindisfarne Gospels 2022 programme.

Write at the Gallery: Poetry Inspired by the Gospels

Date: 15th November 2022

Venue: Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle Upon Tyne

Details: Learn about medieval writing and get inspired by the Lindisfarne Gospels exhibition to produce a poem of your own, in this interactive Write at the Gallery workshop. Poet and creative writing tutor Richard O’Brien will begin by reading poems from and inspired by the early medieval world of the Gospels – including work written about the Ossuary at St Aidan’s Church in Bamburgh.

The Science of Medieval Manuscript Illumination

Date: 18th November 2022

Venue: Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead

Details: The Science of Medieval Manuscript Illumination workshop,given by conservation staff from Northumbria University's Conservation of Fine Art programme, will allow participants to investigate and practice with traditional painting and writing materials techniques used by medieval illuminators in the 7th and 8th century.

Focusing on the science, history and manufacture of the inks and pigments typically used in the early English medieval scriptorium and specifically in the Lindisfarne Gospels, the workshop will also provide a discussion on how science is used at Northumbria University to identify, preserve, and conserve materials used in medieval manuscripts.


Dr Gareth Roddy a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Department of Humanities at the University, and Dr Claudine van Hensbergen, an Associate Professor of 18th century English Literature, are leading the programme of events on behalf of Northumbria University.

Dr Roddy said: “Northumbria University are delighted to be hosting a festival hub in Newcastle this year. It’s a great opportunity to showcase our research and the ways in which it speaks to the wider world. This is an exciting year for the city and the region, with the return of the Gospels and the anniversary of the first construction of Hadrian’s Wall, and a fitting moment to celebrate our collaborations with TWAM, LEGO artist Steve Mayes, local bookbinder Alexandra Marsden and St James’ Heritage & Environment Group.”

Keith Merrin, Director of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, said: “It’s fantastic to be working with Northumbria University and other partners to deliver this programme of events for the Being Human Festival. This year we have put two of our region’s great pieces of heritage in the spotlight - the Lindisfarne Gospels and Hadrian’s Wall and we’re looking forward to celebrating this through the Being Human Festival events.”

Speaking about the ‘Walking the West End Wall’ event, Judith Green, from St James’ Heritage and Environment Group, said: “Walkers following the National Trail are diverted from the route of Hadrian’s Wall just before they reach Newcastle. However, the Wall actually runs through the centre of the city. The Being Human Festival events will therefore help to bring greater recognition to the communities of Hadrian’s Wall that are often overlooked.”

LEGO artist Steve Mays of Brick This said: “Rebuilding the Wall will help us to think creatively about Hadrian's Wall and what it means to us today."

Full details of the programme of events in NewcastleGateshead are available at Being Human where you can book for individual events online.

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