'As One Monastery in Two Places: Wearmouth and Jarrow in their Landscape Context'

Project Leader(s): Sam Turner and Sarah Semple (Durham University)
Staff: Alex Turner
Sponsors: English Heritage
Partners: Durham University, Newcastle City Council, Wearmouth-Jarrow Candidate World Heritage Site Partnership, John Senior, National Museums Liverpool, Archaeological Research Services Ltd, Museum of London Archaeology

Taking its inspiration from the research and recent publications of Prof. Rosemary Cramp on the excavations at Wearmouth and Jarrow, the project examined these early Christian monuments in their landscape setting across time, from their foundation to their place in contemporary society.

The Anglo-Saxon monasteries of Wearmouth and Jarrow were amongst the most sophisticated centres of learning and artistic culture in 7th- and 8th-century Europe. As home to the great scholar Bede, their intellectual legacy was felt throughout the medieval world.

But Bede’s works are by no means all that has survived from their ‘Golden Age’: almost miraculously – given the intense industrialisation of the surrounding landscape over the last 200 years – large parts of the original churches survive at both sites and archaeological research has demonstrated that much more lies buried around and beneath them. This unparalleled body of evidence makes Wearmouth and Jarrow two of Europe’s most important early medieval sites.

This collaborative research project on the monasteries and their churches examined the long-lasting effect of the buildings and estates on the surrounding region from the Anglo-Saxon period to the present day. It traces these relationships back through time with new studies of the changing landscape, the monastery precincts, and exciting work on the surviving structures themselves. The historical archaeology of Wearmouth and Jarrow reveals how the churches and their communities were rooted in the landscapes of Northumbria, but flourished through links with other parts of Britain and Europe.


Alex Turner
Research Associate (Archaeology)

Professor Sam Turner
Professor of Archaeology / Head of School / Director, McCord Centre