Fellfoot Forward

Uncover the past and discover a new side to the North Pennines AONB

Led by the North Pennines AONB Partnership, the Fellfoot Forward Landscape Partnership Scheme is a major project to conserve, enhance and celebrate the natural and cultural heritage of Fellfoot: a very special part of the North West of England.

Stretching from the Cumbrian fellside of the North Pennines AONB and UNESCO Geopark to the River Eden, and running north from Melmerby to Hallbankgate, the area is already famous for its natural heritage, filled with unique habitats, key species, and beautiful views; it is home to wildlife scarce throughout the rest of the UK, including curlew on the fells, water vole along the riverbanks and rare bumblebees in the meadows.

But it’s also a landscape packed with 8,000 years of human stories.

From the Neolithic stone circle of Long Meg, all the way to today’s Fellfoot communities, there’s a lot to uncover. And that’s what we’re going to do!

Uncovering the Past

Uncovering the Past is an exciting new addition to the Fellfoot Forward Landscape Partnership Scheme, and will uncover, research and share new stories about the Fellfoot Forward area’s past, through community engagement with archaeology, historical research and oral history recording.

DigVentures will be working with North Pennines AONB and the Fellfoot communities to deliver a lively programme of activities with local communities, and provide people with the skills and confidence to develop future projects of their own.

Look for ancient sites in the King's Forest of Geltsdale
Survey the ruins of the magnificent Kirkoswald Castle
Record much-loved local buildings, like Croglin church
Join in with community archaeology fieldwork projects
Create a Village Atlas to share the highlights of the Fellfoot area
And host live talks and events for everyone to enjoy!

We will also be helping local communities to create village atlases so that everyone in the area can explore the incredible ancient places hidden on our doorsteps.

Our work will enhance the historical research already being done by Victoria Counties History with new information from five community archaeology fieldwork projects including surveys and investigations at:

  • Carlatton Cairn
  • Broomrigg Stone Circle
  • Medieval Kirkoswald (castle, moated site, and bridge)
  • Grey Yauds Stone Circle
  • Cumrew Cairn
  • Tortie Stone in the King’s Forest of Geltsdale

We’ll also be engaging with local communities to help develop the skills and confidence to develop their own projects in future.

If you live in the local area, you’ll be able to join us on any of these events and help us to uncover the past.

So, as well as enjoying the natural heritage of the Fellfoot Forward project area, we can all get together to conserve, enhance, and celebrate its outstanding cultural heritage too!

What next?

You can head over to the North Pennines AONB website to explore all of the upcoming Fellfoot Forward events and subscribe to the North Pennines AONB newsletter.

Or you can join our email list to get alerts and invites to all the fun events we’re organising as part of the project – from online talks, to heading out into the hills with our archaeologists on a real-life fieldwork mission!

Read more about Uncovering the Past

Village Atlas

We will be co-creating a ‘historic village atlas’ for the area’s Roman and medieval history onwards. The historical research is already being done by local historians as part of the nationwide Victoria Counties History (VCH) project.

Our aim is to enhance the VCH local histories by concentrating on the survey of archaeological sites, using a range of techniques, all deliverable by local people with appropriate levels of training and supervision.

Oral histories

The capturing of oral histories from the scheme area will be undertaken by volunteers across the scheme area who will be provided with equipment and training to run sessions. The oral history will take the form of either a ‘Memory Maker’ style oral history, with older members of the community encouraged to share their stories relating to a specific topic such as music, farming, education or a more general recollection around a place, or a more informal ‘Capturing Conversations’ approach, bringing people together to have a conversation around an aspect of past practices, village life or more recent significant events.


The survey information will be recorded as part of the Historic Environment Register for Cumbria and shared with North Pennines Historic Environment Working Group. Oral histories and any other relevant material will be lodged with the Cumbria Archive Services in Carlisle. The sites surveyed and recorded are not planned to be conserved or maintained but information will be shared with Cumbria Historic Environment Services as relevant. The findings will feed into the Victoria Counties local history research.


A significant legacy will be a skilled and knowledgeable group of volunteers who have worked together and can go on and carry out further survey work in the Fellfoot Forward area, either independently or as part of a local history and archaeological trust or society. Through community group and school contact with archaeology and oral history projects, those volunteers who wish will be able to go on and support local schools and community groups by delivering guided walks/events based around this and future research. Volunteers will be offered guide training during the Delivery Stage.

Read more about Fellfoot Forward

North Pennines AONB has developed Fellfoot Forward with local communities and organisations, and in 2020 the scheme was awarded funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The National Lottery funding brings just over £2 million to support the overall scheme, which will invest £3.4 million in nature recovery and cultural heritage of the area. Fellfoot Forward will run from 2020 to 2024.

It aims to forge creative connections between people and landscape, conserve habitats and key species and celebrate this beautiful area with its communities. Projects are exciting and varied, and there’ll be something for everyone to get involved in.

The wider project includes work on citizen science; community archaeology; woodland creation and management; protecting grassland and meadows; restoring peat; conserving historic buildings; new and revitalised walking, cycling and riding routes; enhanced interpretation and information for the local community and visitors; opportunities for local schools and youth groups to engage with their local heritage; and a host of public events and learning.

The scheme aims to provide a huge boost for the area, with greater access to restored heritage sites and a deeper understanding of the Fellfoot landscape’s special cultural history.

Working with partners and local communities, it aims to strengthen the visitor economy, providing a better future for residents and businesses.

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