BOOKINGS are now being taken for two free courses which aim to inspire more people living in Hexham to take an interest in local history and heritage.

The courses offer an introduction to historical research and are a way to help people to find out about the history of their surroundings and the lives their ancestors led.

A beginners Research Techniques course will be run over two sessions – the first in Hexham Abbey on Saturday, February 12 February 10am-1pm, and the second at the Northumberland Archives in Woodhorn Museum on Saturday, March 5.

The first session will cover how to begin researching using the internet and will focus on the history of the houses currently lived in by attendees. The second session will teach how to dig deeper and wider into history using the physical records available at Northumberland Archives. These skills can then be applied to any historical records, such as your family tree.

The course will be provided free to attendees and free transport will be provided to and from Woodhorn Museum.

Training in the collection of Oral Histories will also be held over two sessions in Hexham Abbey on Saturday, January 22 10am-1pm and Saturday, February 5 10am-1pm.

The course will cover everything needed to successfully gather and record oral histories, such as understanding memory, who to interview, question approaches, recording equipment and archiving.

The course is free to participants.

Both courses are funded by the Hexham High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) programme which is part of a nationwide initiative designed to secure lasting improvements to the historic high street for the communities who use them. They will be delivered by Northumberland Archives.

Northumberland County Councillor, Richard Wearmouth, who sits on the HSHAZ steering group said: “Hexham is a beautiful town with a rich heritage.

"These short courses offer a great introduction to anyone who would like to find out more about the history of their local area by teaching the methods and techniques used to research and record historical data. I think they will provide a fascinating insight into past life in the town and I encourage anyone who has an interest in this area, to take advantage of the free events.”

There are 12 places available on each course on a first come first served basis. Contact