Historic Tyne & Wear Guide
by Ben Johnson
Think of Tyne and Wear (or Tyneside) and most people think of Newcastle upon Tyne. But there is much more to this county than just the vibrant university city of Newcastle; this is Bede Country. Bede, or the Venerable Bede as he is also known, was a monk at St Peter’s monastery at Monkwearmouth and St Pauls at Jarrow. Most famous for his work, ‘The Ecclesiastical History of the English People’, he is often referred to as the ‘Father of English History’. Bede’s World at Jarrow is a popular tourist attraction and introduces visitors to ecclesiastical life in the 7th and 8th century.
You can also visit Tynemouth Castle and Priory. The priory was built in 1090 by Benedictine monks on the site of an Anglo-Saxon monastery where the early kings of Northumbria were buried. This is a really interesting site, with the moated towers, gatehouse and keep of the castle set alongside the ruins of the priory.
Hadrian’s Wall terminates in Tyne and Wear. Running across northern England, from Ravenglass on the Cumbrian coast to the aptly named Wallsend and South Shields, this is one of the most famous landmarks in Britain. Segedunum Roman Fort, Baths and Museum at Wallsend is a great place for a family visit with its interactive museum and full-scale reconstructions of a bath house and section of the Wall.
There are American connections to this part of the world: Washington Old Hall near Washington is the ancestral home of the family of George Washington, first President of the USA. The hall is now in the care of the National Trust.
Stottie cakes are popular in this area of North East England; in Geordie (the local dialect) to ‘stott’ means ‘to bounce’, as in theory these cakes would bounce if dropped! A stottie is a flat, round loaf of bread which is often split and filled with ham, bacon, or sausage to make a sandwich.