“Just here would have been the great hall,” says Chris Ferguson to a Guardian reporter and a dozen indifferent sheep chewing grass in a stunning Northumberland valley.
“Over there would have been the royal residence and behind that, a grandstand. We are on top of one of the most important sites of Anglo-Saxon history anywhere in this country.”
Ferguson is standing in a field telling the story of one of the last century’s most remarkable archaeological finds. It is here, and in the nearby market town of Wooler, that he and his family are spearheading the development of a £10.4m tourist attraction, one that aims to be the Sutton Hoo of the north.
Ad Gefrin – “near the hill of goats” – was discovered in the 1950s by a team led by archaeologist Brian Hope-Taylor. It is a site that includes a complex of timber halls, including the vast Great Hall and a unique wooden grandstand which formed the royal summer palace of seventh-century Northumbrian kings and queens.
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