Experimental composite tool making

Director Paul Gething did a bit of experimental archaeology this past weekend. Here’s what he has to report.

I did a little experiment to see how quick and easy it would be to make a composite tool. The idea was to make something that could be used to harvest sedge at the Kaims in the summer. I attempted to make something between a saw and a sickle.

I took a few flint flakes that I had as debitage and just general surplus from my patio floor.


I found a length of willow from my woodpile and a larger flint to work with.


I used the retouched saw edge to cut the wood to size. I scored a deep groove all the way around and then snapped the wood cleanly. The wood is 25mm diameter and was harvested in the autumn of 2014. Sawing a 3mm groove all the way around took under 2 minutes.


I used a hooked flake to cut a groove in the willow. Once it was started it was very quick, only taking ten minutes to cut a groove 5 mm deep. (The actual flint used was the hooked flint in the top of the glued final piece photo).


The final step was to glue in the flint debitage I had scrounged up earlier.


The glue was some I had lying around from my other projects. It was made a while ago using wood ash, warm milk and vinegar.

The entire build took 35 minutes. If I had used resin or similar and therefore needed to heat it up, I imagine that would have stretched to 45 minutes.

I will take the finished tool to the Kaims in the summer and see how it performs. I will report back in June.


The Bamburgh Research Project needs you

The Bamburgh Research Project is currently undertaking a review of our organisation and aiming towards a relaunch in the next few weeks. After many years of successful research at Bamburgh Castle, the Bowl Hole burial ground and, more recently, the wetland site at the Bradford Kaims, we have reached a point where we feel that positive change is needed to enable us to properly fulfil our ambitions. We have a growing body of archaeological research, a film archive, and increasingly, a presence in social media. In the future we want to greatly increase our output of publication, education and dissemination of all types, from the academic to the popular.

In order to enable this we will need to substantially increase the scale of our post excavation work and just as importantly add new people with additional skills to our team. We have been supported in evaluating our project and planning for the future by the Northumberland County Council Enterprise Team and have already undertaken a strategy day, during which we identified a number of areas in which we need to expand our skill base. These areas include, management, publication, stakeholder engagement, finance and perhaps most importantly of all income generation.

As a result of the consultation we have begun the process of becoming a limited company and will be expanding the management structure of the BRP, including additional directors and adding a new advisory panel. The full list of responsibilities that the new management structure will be responsible for are:

Income Generation
People management
PR and marketing
Policy and procedure
Strategic planning
Stakeholder engagement

We have a wonderful core team of archaeologists and supporters, but we will need to find additional people willing to become involved with our work. We hope that this will prove an opportunity for people interested in archaeology, but who do not necessarily work in the profession, to join us bringing much needed skills and of course enthusiasm to what we hope will be an exciting future.

If you have been following our work, and would like to become more directly involved then we would love to hear from you. It would be terrific if you can bring a particular skill, or skills, with you that we can benefit from, but the most important thing we ask is that you are passionate about history and archaeology and have enough time to be able to be constructively involved.

The next stage will be a further strategy meeting to be held on Saturday 14th March at St Cuthbert’s Anglican Church Hall, Durham (DH1 4NH). It has between booked between 1:00pm and 5:00pm, but there is no need to stay for the full time. It has parking nearby and is within walking distance of the railway station.

If you are interested at all and would like to attend then we would love to hear from you. Just send us an email to: graemeyoung@bamburghresearchproject.co.uk with a few details about yourself, in order to secure a place at the event. We would also like to hear from you if you are interested in working with the BRP and cannot attend the event itself.

The Bradford Kaims Wetland Heritage Project report is now available for download

Regular readers of the blog will know we have been undertaking a pilot study at a wetland site at Hoppenwood Bank as part of our study of the Braford Kaims wetland. The work has been generously supported by a grant of more than £35,000 from Your Heritage (a Heritage Lottery Fund scheme) and also by a grant of £13,000 from English Heritage. As this phase of work is coming to an end we have compiled, what we hope is a pretty comprehensive archaeological report. This is now available to download from our website (link to the Bradford Kaims Report).


Hopefully we will be back to work later this year

Undertaking this work has been a wonderful experience and we have been both delighted and excited by the amazing archaeological discoveries that have emerged. We are hugely grateful to all the volunteers, students and staff members who have participated in the project, donating so much time and effort in the process. We would have achieved very little without you.

We are glad to announce that although the current phase of funding has run out, this is not the end of the Bradford Kaims project. We believe that our pilot study has revealed an archaeological landscape with huge potential and we plan to continue working to investigate it with your help. We intend to be back in June and July this summer and will be looking into new opportunities, in the mean time, to raise funding with which to continue the work.

If you have enjoyed the journey so far then do keep following the blog, because you will be hearing more from the Bradford Kaims, because, as well as raising new supporting grants we will be looking to offer opportunities for volunteers to get back on site this year.

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Bradford Kaims DVD now available in local libraries

Availabe in Northumberland libraries

Availabe in Northumberland libraries

As part of our outreach programme, for the Bradford Kaims Wetland Project, we have been working with students from Ashington Learning Partnership to make and distribute a DVD on our research. Copies of the finished DVD are now available in all Northumberland libraries as well as community centres and schools throughout the region.

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2015 Staff Application Available

Our Staff Application is now up and running on our website at the following link:


Staff from 2014 only need to fill out asterisked questions unless they wish to provide new information (additional job history etc.).

If you have questions about Job Descriptions please email:


Here are our positions for 2015:

Bamburgh Castle

Trench One Supervisor*

Trench Three Supervisor*

Assistant Supervisors (3)

Post Excavation Supervisor *

Environmental Officer

Finds/Environmental Assistant

Outreach Officer

Bradford Kaims

Project Officer (Southern)/Supervisor*

Project Officer (Northern)/Supervisor (Trench 6)*

Assistant Supervisors (2)

Outreach Officer

If you do not have a preference please put ANY in the “Position applying for” box. If you have a unique skill set that you would like to bring to the project please put OTHER in the box followed by a description of the job you would like to preform.

At the present time only the senior staff positions (noted with *) come with a stipend. All other positions are voluntary but come with free accommodation. The project is currently seeking further funding so if circumstances change there will be updates.

Production of our Bradford Kaims DVD is underway

As part of our outreach programme, for the Bradford Kaims Wetland Project, we have been working with students from Hirst Park School to make and distribute a DVD on our research. Copies of the finished DVD will be available in all Northumberland libraries as well as community centres and schools throughout the region.

See hirstparkmiddle.org for a pic of the DVD manufacturing team…

Bradford Kaims lecture at the AONB forum

Graeme Young is doing a lecture on this summer’s excavation at Bradford Kaims as part of the Northumberland Coast AONB Forum on Thursday the 4th of December 2014. It’s short notice but there are still tickets available for the day, which is being held at the Castle Hotel in Bamburgh (7 Front Street. NE69 7BW).

Booking for the event is here: Northumberland Coast AONB Forum booking

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Cord-impressed pottery from the Kaims

Although we are not on site at the moment, the business of analysis quietly continues. Tom Gardner is processing samples from Burnt Mound 1 as part of his MSC, and has found 4 sherds of cord-impressed pottery, during wet sieving.
A sherd of the cord-impressed potery

A sherd of the cord-impressed pottery

The pottery dates from the middle Neolithic, further adding to the evidence of early activity on the site.
The sherd preserves part of the rim of the vessel as well as the cord decoration

The sherd preserves part of the rim of the vessel as well as the cord decoration


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A win for our friends at Hirst Park Middle School

Brian Cosgrove and his student media crew have just won the SENRUG video competition, beating  the Northumberland Church of England Academy, King Edward VI School Morpeth, Cramlington Learning Village and their old friends at Collingwood Arts and Media College, Morpeth.

You can see their video here

Brian and his team have worked with us on a number of occasions, their recent film on Bradford Kaims is linked in the post bellow, so we at the BRP are delighted with their success.