Bamburgh Research Project: 2015 Castle Excavation Season Plans

Things are well underway at Bamburgh Castle and the Bradford Kaims. Our supervisors and assistants are busy pouring over last seasons plans and reports. At each site the students were given a fascinating health and safety lecture followed by a tour of the trenches and an introduction to our previous years finds. Soon we will start to remove the tarps! Today we will hear from Director Graeme Young who will give us an in-depth look at the plans for the castle tenches this season.


Graeme Young

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I was one of the two archaeologists who wrote to Lady Armstrong back in the winter of 1996, asking for the opportunity to do some research at the castle. It does not seem all that long ago, but mathematics tells me otherwise! A great deal has changed since then but our aims of good research, education and engaging with the public remain at the core of what we do.

Being a Northumbrian born and bread, I have known Bamburgh since I was a child, and working to understand this important site was an ambition since I first started archaeology back in 1987. Its a huge privilege as an archaeologist to have the opportunity to dig a dream site, and one which I have been delighted to share with colleagues and a generation of students. Hopefully through our blog and website and some short films we plan to make this summer, we can share something of the fun and excitement with all of you online.

When not immersed in all things Bamburgh I spend far too much money keeping an ancient Land Rover running.


So what do we hope to get up to this summer?

The 2015 season of archaeological work to be undertaken at Bamburgh will continue to build on previous season’s work within the two major excavation trenches, but this year we will be doing more photogrammetry and also testing a new databasing system.

Trench 1

This year we have the full extent of Trench 1 under investigation. During recent seasons we have been playing catch-up, excavating an extension to the trench down to the same levels that we had reached within the original trench, which extended along the north wall of the West Ward. This sets us up to try and identify post-hole structures. Previously we had identified a number of post-holes, so we are probably overdue identifying the buildings that they belong to. We have reached the boulder clay above the bedrock, which means that it is quite possible we might even be able to identify prehistoric features amongst the structures.

Trench 3

Having investigated the metal-working building at the south of the trench, and found numerous 9th century metal finds, recent work has concentrated more in the north and north-west part of the trench, where a series of structural remains have been identified. All this is part of a plan to make sure that the full extent of the trench is at the same phase. In order to do this we have had to face the difficult problem of understanding a complex stone spread that lay between these two areas. Now we believe this area contained a post-in-trench timber building, also of 9th century date. The complete excavation of this building, and a partially surviving paved surface to its east, will be amongst the main aims for this summer. As part of this process it is quite possible that the level of the northern part of the Hope-Taylor 1970s excavation will be reached this year. A big step forward with our plan to incorporate his excavation into our own in order to publish them together.

Analysis

Of course there is the post excavation recess as well. Every bit as important as the excavation itself. This year analysis of the excavation archive will continue to concentrate on the implementation of the digitisation of the site record. A trial with a server based archive system will be a key part of the programme this summer.


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