The Aerial Photography of Ad Gefrin and Milfield

On Saturday we hosted an archaeology student from Durham University, Tom Brash, who was keen to do some aerial photography to support his dissertation on Yeavering. One of our tug drivers, who also studied at Durham, took Tom up in the SuperCub so he could photograph the sites of interest. 

The project is described by Tom:

The modern hamlet of Old Yeavering below Yeavering bell is named after an early medieval township. Originally called Ad Gefrin it was the royal seat of Edwin who was an exiled Anglo-Saxon nobleman, in AD 627 he returned to Yeavering and brought with him a Roman priest Paulinus. The chronicler Bede describes how Paulinus stayed at Gefrin for 26 days baptising the pagan locals in the nearby river Glen. Edwin was killed in battle by pagans, and after his death Gefrin was abandoned in favour of a new town at Milfield. Today all that remains of Edwin's royal palace at Yeavering and the town at Milfield are crop marks which can only be seen from the air. 

The Project
This project which will form  the core of my dissertation aims to gather as many of the aerial photographs of  Yeavering as possible then analyse and map all of the features that are visible. The crop marks  are most visible during long dry periods. The site was first discovered in the summer of 1949 when the strange marks were first seen from the air.

I am also using Near Infra-red photography which captures pictures beyond the visible spectrum and can reveal all sorts of interesting features. For more information on the site visit the Gefrin trusts website at:

This photograph was taken in 1949 by an inquisitive RAF pilot (above). This is a map of the buildings at Gefrin many of which can be seen from the air (below).

Some photographs from the flight.

Friday 15th November

Well, ...... only one flight but very interesting ! Your blogger and Barry Lytollis decided to have a mutual flight in the Ka21 as we were not sure if it was going to be worth getting our gliders out. There was some wavey looking cloud between the Tors & Cheviot so we asked George to tow us to the Tors. At the mouth of the valley I commented to Barry that, even with the little Pawnee, we were climbing quite fast and, in what seemed to be very smooth air. I spoke too soon because the climb rate decreased then became negative for a while. As we progressed up the valley it became increasing rough - with a capital R and we were both feeling sorry for George. The climb rate improved as we approached the Tors so we pulled off at 2000' and flew around the end of some cloud which seemed to project from the E end of the Tors. The vario flickered around zero but, as we moved further up the valley started to show a better rate of climb. Approaching the triangular wood the vario moved smoothly up until it was hard against the top stop and the altimeter was winding steadily upwards ! Wow !! We topped out at 5000' which was interesting because the Met had shown an inversion at that level. We explored out over Morebattle, we considered dropping downwind to S of Wooler but thought better of it because we had had calls from the site saying the wind was increasing and they had put the tug away ! Eventually we came back down the valley and then found a weak line of lift from Kilham nearly to Yetholm. Having tried that we decided to return to the site. Things looked OK from 1500' but, as we got lower, it became obvious that the wind had really picked up and the circuit and approach were wild. When we came to a stop Barry got out and suggested, because of the gusty wind, that I should stay in the glider. The gusts were so strong I felt the glider was almost lifting off so opened the airbrakes. The result was the wind blew the glider backwards over the ground !!!! Luckily the tractor was on hand and we made a hasty retrieve back to the hanger. Quite a flight.

On my way home I stopped to take the photo below. This was taken from near Bamburgh golf course and doesn't do justice to the spectaular sight of the clouds spilling over Cheviot & Hedgehope. Several people had stopped to look or photograph the scene.

Cheviot and Hedgehope wreathed in wave cloud