Memorial Details

NEWMP Memorial Image
Photo: J. Brown


Cairn 1914-18 Plenmeller Common





Map ref

NY 749 610

Original Location

A few hundred metres north of Rock House. It can be seen from the beacon top on the Haltwhistle-Whitfield Road, or from the Green Road from Allen's Green towards Rock House.

Which war


Dedication, Creation or Publication date

Not dedicated originally, as far as is known. Dedicated 30th July 2007.

Memorial Description

Cairn, approx. 2m high, standing on a rock which reaches out from the crag, not far from the well. The memorial is known variously as "The Currick", "The Sentry", "The Sentinel", "The Canny Hird".
The cairn is an amazing drystone construction, about 6 feet high, placed on an overhanging rock shelf.
A plinth carrying a plaque of brass of A4 size bearing the story stands in front of it. Lettering is lower case Roman.

Materials used

Stones. Concrete plinth, brass plaque.


War memorial Cairn
------ Erected by ------
Tynedale Shepherds
In memory of all who died in
The Great War



Who commissioned

Not commissioned, but built by shepherds. Plaque commissioned by UK Coal.

How money was raised

Plaque and plinth built and paid for by UK Coal.

Present condition


Sculptor, Artist or Designer

Built by shepherds.


1. Although within the Plenmeller Opencast site, the cairn was worked round, leaving it intact.

2. UK Coal agreed to provide a plaque telling the story of the cairn.

3. Mr. N. Short wrote a poem about it (attached).

4. In August 1993, English Heritage are considering listing the memorial, at the request of Tynedale District Council.

5. Following restoration of the site, a boundary fence has been placed in front of the cairn, but a stile has been provided.

6. The placing of the plaque has been done in consultation and agreement with Plenmeller with Whitfield Parish Council.

7. David Pretswell was so intrigued by the cairn that he made a carving of it which was displayed in the Hatton Gallery in Winter 2003. It shows the cairn together with the head of a shepherd in silhouette and a stylised crook.

8. At the dedication on 30th July 2007, on a beautiful summerís evening, Peter Wood of UK Coal described how the opencast workings left the cairn in place for two reasons. One was that the outcrop was a wildlife haven which they left undisturbed. The second was that the cairn, cleverly cantilevered but so simple in design, had intrigued all those who saw it. They wondered why it had been built and there were several stories. It was later that they learned that it was a war memorial.

9. Nick Short, who lived at Rock House during 1939-1946, told how his father, a shepherd, looked after the cairn. Nick had earlier explained to Janet Brown of NEWMP that he had made representations to Tyneside District Council when he learned of the opencast operations. However, UK Coal never heard of this. Thus, the cairn had sufficient aura of its own to protect it.

10. At the ceremony, which was organised by Plenmeller with Whitfield Parish Council, Peter Wood gave the background to the story. Nick Short read one of his poems in Northumbrian dialect. Chairman of Plenmeller with Whitfield Parish Council, J.H. Blackett-Ord, read Binyonís verse. Nick Short placed a spray of flowers on the cairn, and produced poppies for others to lay. A minuteís silence closed the proceedings. It was a simple, deeply moving event.

11. The names of the shepherds who built it are unknown. Any help in this respect would be gladly received.
Names received so far are: Johnson of Wolfhills who took over the shepherding; Collins who went to Kingswood; Short, then Wighams.

Newspaper cuttings, photos or archival material

Photo: N. Short; photos of cairn and plaque: J. Brown; photo of Pretswell carving: David Pretswell; photo of Nick Short and his spray of flowers on 30th July 2007: Tony Iley

Hexham Courant 07/01/2005 carried article on the cairn; 2/09/2005 reports proposed plaque; 03/08/2007 reports rededication; 24/10/2014 reports a later visit by Nick Short

Northumbriana No. 44, Spring 1993, ISSN 0308 4809 carries a short article by Nick Short called "The Monyeemint" ("The Monument")

External web link

Additional Research documents (click to download)

Research acknowledgements

N. Short, Hexham; J. Brown; Plenmeller with Whitfield Parish Council; David Pretswell; Peter Wood, UK Coal; Tony Iley (Hexham Courant)

Research In Progress

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Cairn 1914-18 Plenmeller Common (P10.01)

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Parish Notes

Every Name A Story