The photograph (see left) of an historic fireplace with stone artefacts lying inside its structure has no known date, or indication of who actually took it. However recent research shows it could possibly have been taken in 1935.
The location of the fireplace on the photograph, somewhere to the north of Berwick Town Hall, raised questions about the building it was situated in.
Mystery also surrounded the carved stone artefacts lying within the fireplace itself. What was the significance of theses stones, and why were they randomly lying within the fireplace?
And what eventually happened to this ornate historic fireplace, and the stone artefacts contained within?
Following research carried out by Kevin Graham, (volunteer) Northumberland Archives Berwick, with the assistance of Dr. Catherine Kent, honorary fellow in the department of history, Durham University, Dr. William Purkis, of Birmingham University, Abigail Cornick, curator at the Museum of the Order of St John, London, and Dr. Vardit Shotten, of the Israel Antiquities Authority, it has been possible to piece together a history of the fireplace, and that of the stone artefacts placed within its centre.
Initially a number of site visits took place to the area to try and find the exact location of the fireplace, along with some research in local newspapers. It was finally discovered that the fireplace was situated in Crawford’s Alley, between Marygate and Chapel Street.
The fascinating history of the fireplace tells us something of the building it came from, the history of the site in the 15th and 16th century, and of possible connections to Oliver Cromwell. We also learned of a possible large monastic site, and of the presence of the Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller in Berwick. There is also a set of intriguing photographs of the building that housed the fireplace.