As a local you would probably know, but as a visitor you’d be forgiven for wondering where the name of Heavenfield Cottage came from. However, when we converted our old building into a luxury self-catering cottage, the name choice for us was obvious.
Heavenfield sits adjacent to our farm steading and is in fact our hay field. Not only does it have a lovely name but it is also special to us as we got married there! However, this pretty little field is immersed in history and was one of the most important sites in early northern Christianity.
The site is believed to be the location where King Oswald (604-642) raised a large wooden cross before the Battle of Heavenfield in AD635. The battle defeated King Cadwallon ap Cadfon of Gwynedd and Oswald took a Northumbrian victory. A walled churchyard stands within the field and is home to St Oswald’s Church.
The church itself is a haven of peace and tranquillity and, with no electricity, the church services held there a few times a year are lit by candles. The remains of a roman alter stone can be found inside the church and a large timber cross stands at the nearby roadside on the presumed site of the original cross erected by Oswald himself. Even today the church is a destination for pilgrims and there is an annual pilgrimage service from Hexham Abbey on St Oswald’s Day.
St Oswald’s Church is without doubt a special place and although the church we see now is primarily 19th century, the sense of age and history is palpable.
The rich history continues as the Hadrian’s Wall National Trail runs across the field and therefore the church is a very popular stop for walkers.
Heavenfield also marks the end of St Oswald’s Way which is a long-distance walking route, exploring some of the finest landscapes and fascinating history of Northumberland. The route links some of the places associated with St Oswald. From Holy Island (Lindisfarne) in the north, St Oswald’s Way follows the stunning Northumberland coast, before heading inland across beautiful countryside to Heavenfield and Hadrian’s Wall in the south, a distance of 97 miles. The route links castles, the coastline, islands, scenic river valleys, hills, attractive villages, forest and farmland.
To the rear of churchyard are the most breath-taking panoramic views looking towards the North Tyne and over to the Cheviot and Simonside Hills. There is a helpful visitor panel to ensure visitors enjoy each part of this amazing landscape.
If the history isn’t enough, Heavenfield is now also a preserved hay meadow and, with a rare mix of wildflowers and grasses, we are delighted that St Oswald’s Farm is now within a higher level stewardship scheme to ensure these species are preserved. Upland hay meadows are one of the rarest grassland habitats in the country, rich in wildlife and steeped in cultural traditions. The best time of year to see the meadow in all its glory is late May to late June.
Heavenfield is always a popular spot for photographers and with dark skies overhead there is often a tripod set up as darkness falls. On a clear night it is nothing short of stunning and certainly worth staying up for.
Heavenfield featured in Robson Green’s Further Tales of Northumberland as he followed St Oswald’s Way to its final destination and paid homage to the site and the history of this remote spot.
More recently, LJ Ross the author of the international No1 best-selling series of DCI Ryan mystery novels, which have sold nearly three million copies worldwide in the last three years, based one of her DCI Ryan books at the church and named it Heavenfield. It is therefore fitting that this series of books can be enjoyed by our guests here at St Oswald’s Farm….we’re just hoping there’s a TV detective series to follow!
Heavenfield is so much more than just a field and so much more than just a name we thought up. We hope that visitors to the church, to Heavenfield and to St Oswald’s Farm enjoy it as much as we do and feel the sense of peace and tranquillity that can be found here.
If you’d like to stay in Heavenfield Cottage you can check prices, availability and book here
We’d absolutely love to welcome you to St Oswald’s Farm