AN ambitious arts and crafts festival is being organised to coincide with the visit of the Lindisfarne Gospels.

The exquisitely decorated mediaeval manuscript, which dates from about 700AD, will be in the library on Palace Green, Durham, from July 1 to September 30.

A county-wide programme of activities and events is being organised to coincide with the gospels exhibition.

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A community choir is already up and running and a project involving museums across the North-East is also planned.

County Durham's artisans are now being invited to get involved in a scheme which aims to attract 1,000 pieces of work from up to 1,000 artists.

Plans were discussed at a meeting in Barnard Castle and Caroline Peacock, who is helping to co-ordinate the event, said that while the arts and crafts festival would be based in Teesdale, it would attract artists and visitors from across the region.

She said organising such an event to coincide with the gospels' visit was an appropriate thing to do.

“All the crafts here in the area originate from ancient times. There were some beautiful crafts and jewellery which belonged to that period and they are still here alive today.”

Mrs Peacock said the arts event will be staged at the NeST Gallery, Witham Hall and St Mary's Church, all in Barnard Castle, and will be partly displays of artists' work and partly a selling exhibition.

The event will run across the final month of the gospels exhibition and continue into October, when the first Durham Dales Walking Festival takes place.

“It is probably going to be one of the biggest arts collaborations. There will be everything from ceramics to textiles and paintings,” she said.

“We are also going to do artisan weekends with demonstrations and talks.

“We are looking for 1,000 creations and as near to 1,000 artists as possible.”

The search has now begun to attract artists to take part in the event.

Anyone interested should contact Lindsey Starborn on 07835-712159 or email

The arts and crafts festival is one of two major projects being undertaken in Teesdale to coincide with the gospels exhibition.

A Timeless Teesdale Driving Tour, linking villages such as Escomb, Hamsterley, Romaldkirk and Cotherstone, where traces of the dale's Anglo-Saxon past can still be found, is currently being created.

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