LAST night marked the first episode of BBC Two’s series Villages by the Sea and this episode focused on the Northumberland village of Bamburgh – but what was it about?

The programme, presented by archaeologist Ben Robinson, looked to uncover how the health and fortune of the village was shaped by those in charge of Bamburgh’s famous castle.

Read more: Officers use old fishing rope to scale 100 feet down sheer cliff to rescue man

The episode also featured the search for a long-lost well, possibly solving a decade-long mystery.

Firstly the episode features Ben Robinson taking a coastal view of the village by a man who’s family has been running boat trips across the stretch of the coast since 1918.

The Northern Echo:

The episode then focuses on the castle in Bamburgh, describing how the historic structure “offered a strong defensive position to the early kings of the North in the sixth century.”

Mr Robinson then reveals that before there was a castle built in Bamburgh, there was a Burh, a type of fortification.

Mr Robinsons said: “Bamburgh takes its name from the seventh century ruler Ethelfrith’s wife, Bebba.”

The Northern Echo:

Read more: Crews battle fire in Darlington as nearly 1,000 tonnes of waste set ablaze

The episode proceeds to touch on the health of residents in medieval Bamburgh, where it has been discovered that they were “very healthy” despite many other residents in the UK at the time being malnourished.

However, the teeth of the residents were reportedly “dreadful” and “absolutely appalling”, which is demonstrative of a really good diet, according to the show.

The Northern Echo:

Later the programme talks about the architecture of the village, describing how properties were built close together, all connected by a long straight road to the castle.

The Northern Echo:

Ben is later joined by village historian Carol Griffiths who has been searching for a long lost well for 10 years.

The well could be the missing medieval Aiden’s Well, the show confirms that the well could be the missing ancient water-source.

The Northern Echo:

Talking of Bambrugh’s role in being one of the first places in the country to form something like a welfare state, the programme then explores Nathaniel Crewe’s role in the village.

When Nathaniel Crewe died in 1721, he left instructions for his fortune to form the Crewe Trust in Bamburgh.

With the income that Crewe’s estate was generating a trustee by the name of John Sharpe, pioneered an early welfare state.

The Northern Echo:

This was 200 years before a national welfare state was created.

Read more: The North East village that is set to appear on BBC Two tonight in new series

The next episode in the BBC Two series will be about Staithes in North Yorkshire, where Ben will unearth its industrial past.


Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated North Yorkshire Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on or contact 01325 505054