What is the Morpeth Gathering?
In September 1966 a modest concert of Northumbrian music and song was held to raise funds for Morpeth Antiquarian Society. It was the inspiration for a one-day Northumbrian festival in March 1968 which evolved into the Morpeth Gathering.
The festival includes a vast array of competitions including crafts, performance and writing. Events of local interest nave been added to the programme of concerts, singarounds, barn dance, storytelling. theatre and street performance which includes a young people's pageant as part of the Border Cavalcade.
The emphasis of the Gathering is firmly upon the native traditions of Northumberland and. whilst there is plenty of scope for traditional music from all over the British Isles within the festival, the wealth of local culture is well to the fore. This is not blind parochialism by any means, but an attempt to maintain and spread the time-honoured distinctive and worthwhile features of Northumberland and its heritage.
The Border Cavalcade is a re-enactment of the return of Lord Greystoke from the Battle of Otterburn in 1388. The Cavalcades celebrate neither victory nor defeat, but rather the spirit of Borderers caught up in the web of everlasting conflict at a frontier. Led by Border half-long pipers the Cavalcade
and a a pageant created by children from local
schools, leaves St James's Church, Copper Chare at approx. 10.45am and arrives at the Town Hall at 11 am to be welcomed by the costumed Morpeth Gadgy (the Town Bailiff) and the Mayor of Castle Morpeth. The army's flag is waved
ceremonially, rosettes are presented and the Cavalcade
processes to the end of Bridge Street, then turns and
processes back to the Town Hall.
The pageant is followed by street performances throughout the day. One of the leading figures behind the Morpeth Northumbrian Gathering was Roland Bibby a true advocate of Northumberland and its traditions He founded the festival's publication, 'Northumbriana'. a magazine featuring articles on the county's history, dialect, folklore, traditions, natural history, literature and architecture and entries to the writing and music competitions, From this developed the Northumbrian Language Society, a charity whose aim is to preserve, study and enjoy the historic language (more than just a dialect) of Northumberland and North Durham which is the direct descendant of the Anglian tongue of Bede. Information on "Northumbriana" and the Northumbrian Language Society can be had from the administrative queries address.