I have been curious about archaeology ever since I was a little girl who liked to watch the History Channel with her older brother. This past year, I decided it was time to take the next step and try my hand at archaeology, in order to help me figure out if I want to pursue it as a career. I discovered the Bamburgh Research Project online and it captured my interest immediately so I signed up and made my way to the U.K.
I arrived at the campsite on a drizzly Sunday evening and set up my tent alongside those of the other BRP participants. I had come by myself and knew no one, so I was not sure what to expect. Within an hour, I had met most of the staff and several other students, and was welcomed warmly. Almost immediately I felt comfortable and included.
Two weeks later, these people that I had met on my very first night have come to be truly great friends, friends that I hope I will keep for life. In two short weeks we had shared a lot together, from working together on all the different projects to moments of complete hilarity to serious late night conversations. When you spend all of your time with kind and funny people who share many of your interests, no matter what part of the world they’re from, it’s easy to bond with them. At first I was surprised by how easy it was to make these kinds of friendships, but eventually I realized that this was just one of the valuable opportunities Bamburgh presents to its students.
The work surprised me as well. I found enjoyment in all of the tasks I was assigned to; everything from finds washing, to planning, to excavating in the trenches. I was taken aback by how exhilarating archaeology is for me. There’s something hard to explain about how exciting it is to be searching in the earth for something that is part of a story entirely different from your own. Bamburgh does a wonderful job of instilling this kind of passion in its students. Students get a chance to try everything that the project offers and move around from site to site often throughout the week. The best part about the work is that you feel like you are making a positive difference to the project, even as a complete novice trying archaeology for the first time.
One part I especially enjoyed was working at the Bradford-Kaims Project. Seeing the flint arrowhead that had been found as well as the contents of Trench 42 was fascinating. I loved cleaning the trenches, searching for new context layers, and digging test pits, because the idea that some anomaly in the land, potentially even a Bronze Age burial, was waiting somewhere underneath our feet to be discovered was unbelievable. While I was working there, the awesome Kaims staff of Neal, Graham, and Jackie were extremely kind and eager to help me learn about everything the project has to offer.
I got a chance to try everything, including de-turfing and digging test pits, leveling, planning, finding coordinates, coring, trowelling in Trench 42, and even doing a little teaching myself. It’s still hard to believe how much I learned from all of the staff members in just two weeks. I’m a little sad that I won’t be there to finish out the season, but I’m excited to hear about the progress that “Team Kaims” makes, as well as the work being done up at the castle.
Overall, my experiences with the Bamburgh Research Project are some I’ll never forget. It’s one of those places that you can’t imagine never going back to once you’ve experienced it once. I hope I’ll be back next summer, and I’ll try to do whatever it takes to make it happen. I spent two short weeks at Bamburgh, and I already love it as much as a place I’d call home.
A little addition from Neal:
“Laurel came the project with no archaeology experience and excelled in everything she did. After a week on the project in which she became a student of the week winner along with Tom Lally, the staff at Team Kaims saw her potential and we started to train her at staff level. As she said, she did teach, a position she excelled at, a 100% true Kaimanoid…. “Team Kaims!!!”