Smoked Kippers of Craster

By: Douglas Scott

The village of Craster, situated on the Northumberland coast 6 miles northeast of Alnwick, falls within the parish of Embleton. There is an ancient camp not far from the village, sitting on a whinstone ridge named Craster Heugh, from which Craster may have taken its name.

The surrounding area is largely made up of whinstone beds, an indentation in these beds provides Craster with a natural harbour. The harbour itself is protected by two areas of rocks, known as Muckle Car and Little Car.

Albert Craster was the founder of the Craster family and was given the township in the twelfth century. The family continued to reside there over the centuries, and built their home, Craster Tower, an imposing residence east of the village.

Thomas Wood Craster built a small mission in the village in 1877 so that villagers would not have to make the trip to Embleton to attend church, and this mission took his name.

In its centenary year the Bishop of Newcastle dedicated the church and gave it the name St. Peter the fisherman. Kellys Directory of Northumberland for 1897 confirms that at the end of the nineteenth century the village still belonged to the family.

Located at Howick, a few miles south of Craster, archaeologists from Newcastle University have unearthed the earliest and best preserved Mesolithic or Middle Stone Age house ever to be found in Britain. In 2002 a reconstruction of the house was created for the BBC2 TV programme Meet the Ancestors.

The house is part of the popular Maelmin Heritage Trail, situated just a few miles inland at Milfield, near Wooler.

Craster has always been known as a fishing village, with its cobles bringing in a variety of fish including herring. The small harbour was built in the nineteenth century for the herring fishery.

Perhaps it is most famous for the curing sheds that produce Craster kippers, a renowned Northumbrian export. L. Robson and Sons Ltd have supplied the Royal Family in the past. The kippers and smoked salmon are prepared in the traditional method of oak smoking.

Their kippers and salmon are delivered next day to all parts of the U.K. mainland and can also be purchased either in their shop, locally and ordered online. A picturesque coastal footpath from the village across the fields follows the rocky shore one and half miles north to the dramatic ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle.

Walking enthusiasts of all ages can enjoy a circular walk of about six miles, taking in the spectacular Northumberland Coast and dramatic ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle.

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