inHeritage will work with Bedford Borough Council and the Marston Vale Trust on a Heritage Lottery Fund supported heritage interpretation at Bedford River Valley Park.
A major project to improve the Bedford River Valley Park has been awarded a grant of £78,900 by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Bedford Borough Council, working in partnership with the Marston Vale Trust has secured the grant to bring the park’s historic landscapes and archaeological remains to life through heritage interpretation.
The Bedford River Valley Park Heritage Interpretation Project uses interactive and unique tools such as interpretation panels, listening posts, a geocache trail, leaflets and guided walks to bring the history of the park to life and help visitors to appreciate the rich heritage of the park and how human activity has helped to shape the landscape. Heritage interpretation specialists inHeritage will work with the partnership and local volunteer groups to deliver the project.
Robyn Llewellyn, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, said: “This is going to be such a fun and interesting project, getting people involved in history, archaeology and their natural surroundings. It’s great that local volunteers are very much part of the project and there will be opportunities for people to do research, guide walks and much more to enhance this fascinating area.”
Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson, said: “Bedford River Valley Park is an incredibly exciting project which will create the largest area of publicly accessible green space in Bedfordshire and link the heart of the town with the wider countryside. “The grant from Heritage Lottery Fund will help improve the park even more by bringing the park’s many historic and archaeological features to life in a fun, interactive and accessible way.”
Forest of Marston Vale Trust’s Chief Executive, Nick Webb, said: “The support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, in this partnership of the Marston Vale Trust with Bedford Borough Council, is crucial in bringing the fascinating history of the area to life. The rich history adds to the appeal and diversity within the Bedford River Valley Park and we look forward in working with Bedford Borough on this project.”
Bedford River Valley Park has a fascinating archaeological and historical record, including many scheduled monuments and listed buildings, earthworks, cropmarks and the evidence from numerous archaeological investigations. The Great Ouse River Valley has been inhabited for millennia, as demonstrated by the survival of prehistoric landscape features across the park, including burial sites and mortuary enclosures for laying out the dead. These Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments were replaced during the Iron Age and Roman periods by agriculture and settlement including small farmsteads and a villa. In the medieval period, the landscape was dominated by castles and Newnham Priory, which gives Priory Country Park its name. Newnham Priory was founded in the 12th century and demolished during the Reformation by Henry VIII. There are many listed buildings of post-medieval date in the area and recent history can be seen in the 17th century Great Ouse navigation and the track bed and bridges of the 19th century Bedford to Sandy railway.