The photograph (see left) of an ancient fireplace with stone artefacts lying inside its structure has no known date, or indication of who actually took it. However research suggests it may have been taken in the 1940s or 1950s.
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 these stones, and why were they randomly lying within the fireplace?
And what eventually happened to this ornate ancient fireplace, and the stone artefacts contained within?
Following research carried out by Kevin Graham, (volunteer, Northumberland Archives Berwick), with the assistance of Dr. William Purkis (Birmingham University), Abigail Cornick (curator at the Museum of the Order of St John, London), and Dr. Vardit Shotten (Israel Antiquities Authority), it has been possible to piece together a history of the fireplace, and that of the stone artefacts contained 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, and of its possible connections with Oliver Cromwell. We also learned of the presence of the Knights Hospitallers and Knights Templars in Berwick.
The connection between the Knights Templars and Berwick-upon-Tweed is documented in an article by Clarence Perkins, “The wealth of the Knights Templars in England and the disposition of it after their dissolution” (in American Historical Review, vol.15 no.2, Jan. 1910, pp.252-263). Click here to view the full article on JSTOR; see especially pp.253-254.
Banner: Photo of Oliver Cromwell’s statue outside the Houses of Parliament in London, courtesy of UKpix.com.