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September 23, 2011
From journal A weekend in Newcastle
Jarrow, Tyne & Wear, United Kingdom
August 16, 2004
Although Bede is best known as the author of the 'Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation', a chronicle of events from the Roman occupation to the time of the book's completion in 731AD which remains one of our main authorities on Anglo-Saxon life and the early Christian period, he also wrote poetry in Old English and Latin, made the first known attempt to translate the Bible into English, popularised the Anno Domini dating system, mastered Latin, Greek and Hebrew, wrote three Latin hymns and believed that the Earth was round "like a playground ball" rather than "like a shield." Centuries before the effects of gravity became widely known he understood that the moon influenced the cycle of tides, writing of a world influenced by weather patterns and climatic change. Each of the four alcoves in the room dedicated to his teachings cover a different aspect of his life, the narration layered by the sound of monastic chanting from the previous room and a video presentation somewhere beyond the far wall.
The ten acres of reclaimed land outside house reconstructed Anglo-Saxon buildings and farmland. A dirt track leads past a cone shaped goosehouse built to a 9th century design with limewashed oak posts interwoven with hazel below a thatched wheat straw roof facing out over the confluence of the wide Tyne and the narrow mud flats of the River Don estuary. Loop back across the grass for the limewashed, irregular Thirlings Hall, passing a pole lathe used for making tool handles and furniture on the way. The Hall, large and open plan, is based on a 6th century landowner's residence excavated in Northumberland. As with the other buildings visitors are free to inspect the interior, full of long tables, a huge fire and various implements with a window propped open at one side. The final structure is the Grubenhaus, a simple dwelling with oak walls and a triangular thatched heather roof that covers both sides of the building down to ground level.
Overlooking the entrance to the museum Jarrow Hall is a listed Georgian building completed in 1785 as a residence for a philanthropic local shipyard and coal mine owner. Today, aside from the restored Oval Room and some wall displays on the history and inhabitants of the building, the main point of interest for visitors is the ground floor café and the Herb Garden at the back.
From journal How The North Was Won