Settlers of the Nene Valley

Explore, re-create and celebrate the journeys made by settlers as they travelled, settled and traded along the Nene Valley.

Settlers of the Nene Valley

The Project

In January 2018, we were delighted to receive Heritage Lottery funding, through the Nenescape Landscape Partnership Scheme, to provide activities which explored the Nene Valley, its people, heritage and identity in a changing landscape.

Our project, Settlers of the Nene Valley, explored, re-created, and celebrated the lives of the Neolithic, Bronze & Iron Age, Roman, Saxon and Medieval Settlers on the Stanwick Lakes site over the past 5,000 years and shared this with the local communities.

To do this we focused on the journeys that the Settlers made, where and how they lived, and what we could learn from them.

Come and Experience the Past

We offered hands-on opportunities for the local community to learn new skills in the traditional crafts and construction techniques which enabled people to settle and make their home in the valley. We also had outreach projects in local schools where we took a range of exciting heritage activities to compliment the school curriculum.

We provided opportunities for the local community to learn about and try:

  • Cooking methods used by the past Settlers, including making bread and cake
  • Hurdle construction, leading to wattle and daubing
  • Traditional spoon carving
  • Wooden Chair making
  • Jewellery making
  • Dyeing and Weaving wool
  • Making Roman clay dice
  • Being young archaeologists, investigating and recording finds
  • Dressing up like a Settler and experiencing what they would have worn
  • Archery and Axe Throwing
  • Stained Glass Making


An Iron Age Roundhouse was constructed to replace one previously built on the site, using traditional methods and materials, together with appropriate wood carvings.

Heritage Barn

The heritage barn was constructed by volunteers using, as far as practical, a variety of traditional construction methods which would have been recognised by past settlers. Many different skills were needed such as stone wall making, herringbone medieval brick working, tiling, etc. The oak timber frame of the barn is a typical material for medieval buildings. A replica Roman mosaic has also been incorporated into the floor.

The barn is used for exhibitions, group meetings, small workshops etc.

Heritage Garden

The garden was created by volunteers who researched the various heritage plantings that are now well established. Michael Brown, Historical Gardner, and members of the Northamptonshire Garden Trust advised the team to ensure historical authenticity about what the Settlers would have grown and how the produce would have been used for food, dyeing and medicinal purposes.

A number of community engagement activities were arranged using the produce from the garden, e.g. onions for dyeing, and also talks by Michael about how settlers used some of the plants.

Heritage Trail

A trail has been developed based upon the heritage of the site and an updated heritage trail leaflet is available in the Visitor Centre and Snack Shack.

Rockingham Forest Trust, which manages Stanwick Lakes, is one of several organisations in the Nenescape Landscape Partnership Scheme that have received funding for activities which explore the Nene Valley, its people, heritage and identity in a changing landscape.