Attractions industry news

29 Oct 2021

Ad Gefrin attraction will celebrate '20th century’s most remarkable archaeological finds'

A new £10.4m cultural visitor experience, bringing to life what has been dubbed as one of the 20th century’s most remarkable archaeological finds, will open to the public in late 2022.

Called Ad Gefrin and designed by Richard Elphick of Elphick Associates, the attraction will recreate the Great Hall of the Royal Court – an Anglo Saxon site located in the north Northumbrian hills near Wooler.

The site was discovered in the 1950s, when archaeologists uncovered a huge complex of large timber halls and a unique wooden grandstand that made up the royal summer palace of the 7th century Northumbrian Kings and Queens – including Aethelfrith, Edwin and Aethelburga.

Ad Gefrin will recreate the Great Hall of the Royal Court – a destination for international trade and cultural exchange with connections to people from across Europe and as far as north Africa.

For a century it became the stage for some of the most momentous events in early
northern English history, including the first conversions to Christianity.

The location is referred to by Bede – ​​an English Benedictine monk dubbed "The Father of English History"– in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People in AD 731.

The centre’s immersive exhibition will illuminate the lives of the people that lived
and worked in the royal court, presenting their individual narratives through a series of projected films.

This will be accompanied by a display of archaeologically important artefacts both found at the original site, and borrowed from leading international museums and collections.

The Visitor Experience will also include a bistro bar, gift shop and the Ad Gefrin whisky distillery – home to the first Northumbrian English Single Malt Whisky.

Ad Gefrin is funded by the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal, the North East Rural Growth Network – Strategic Economic Infrastructure Fund (SEIF), North East LEP and Northumberland County Council.

Dr Chris Ferguson, head of operations and lead curator of Ad Gefrin, said: “This will be the first experience in the UK to present the story of an Anglo-Saxon Great Hall, and particularly to celebrate the Golden Age of Northumbria.

"I hope that by bringing to life the stories of the people that lived at Yeavering we will showcase one of the most significant archaeological sites in the British Isles.

"Yeavering is a Northumbrian royal palace counterpart to the ship burials at Sutton Hoo in East Anglia, and was as richly decorated and significant a place, if not more so.

"I’m delighted that we have the opportunity to bring the story of this site to life for a wider audience, and to be able to do so through innovative exhibition design and through a sustainable business model in tandem with our Single Malt Whisky."

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