When Countryfile visited Land of Oak & Iron

Land of Oak & Iron featured on BBC1’s hit show Countryfile at the weekend, if you missed it don’t worry, there’s still plenty of time to watch it. The programme is available on BBC iPlayer until the end of December, so you can catch it over the Christmas break.

During the special County Durham show, presenter Helen Skelton discovered rapper dancing – a variation of a sword dance that emerged from the pit villages, seeing dancers wear specially-designed shoes that allow for percussive foot movements –  meeting some of the performers from the High Spen Blue and Pink Diamonds Rapper Dance Teams.

As well as having a go at rapper dancing, Helen also met Marley the Pit Pony – a small horse used to haul loads in the coal mines of the time – and discovered the historic link between pit ponies and rapper dancing.

Helen also met Shona Branigan, a local artist who makes stunning ink prints from pieces of wood collected from the Land of Oak & Iron. You may have seen some of Shona’s work at our Heritage Centre, where it has been used in the interpretation and décor of the new visitor facility. It is also now on view at the recently opened Tyne Riverside Cafe, which is also another of Land of Oak & Iron’s heritage centres.