Round-Up: Week 3

Dig season 2021 is officially in the books! It was a short but valuable season for us to get our bearings on a few parts of the complicated outworks of Bamburgh Castle. Look out for a full-season round-up from Director Graeme Young.

Trench 5a was extended numerous times to try and find any remaining bit of medieval wall in front of the Victorian steps. Aside from the constant stream of little bits of iron that we recorded as small finds, this trench has remained mostly mysterious. The Victorian refacing on the wall coming in from the right may hide an earlier core, possibly medieval. The view of the wall that theoretically should have run right through our trench suggests that the wall was purposefully truncated and given the Victorian reface treatment.

Trench 5a at its greatest extent.

Trench 5b involved work in several areas and sondages that we finally linked up over the week. The double wall, that is, the postmedieval wall that runs perpendicular to the massive ivy-covered wall with large medieval masonry on which it sits, has been cleared up to the rubble pile where we expect the well to be.

The Room was cleared out further, producing multiple steps and an entranceway. It appears that the Room was remodeled to include a doorway against a wall that blocks off what we believed to have once been further liveable space. The view below is looking at that blocking or retaining wall. We have four steps, a landing, and a right turn down two further steps. This staircase layout does not match the 19th-century plans, and did lead to some head-scratching because there are clues to at least two more doorways further down into the room.

From another angle, you can see the massive vertical stone by the top four steps (right of photo) with a piece of timber bolted into it. The timber is moveable, but fastened well to the stone. In the foreground (left protruding from wall), you can see the original iron bolt that we first caught sight of in week 1 through a crevice in the rubble.

This part of the Room was photographed before carefully dismantling the vertical rubble face to create a gradual slope that would prevent off-season collapse.

And now, what you’ve all been waiting for: Did we find the well yet?

Removing the rubble that stood over where we expect to find the well was the final task for Trench 5b this season. Here are some images of the progress, as it really was a LOT of material our team moved.

We still hadn’t reached a floor surface like we had in the Room, whose rubble fill connects with this area. This is a lovely corner, but alas, like every corner so far we have uncovered, it’s just not quite square. To quote Graeme, “There is not a single right angle to be found!”

So we leave you with this: if there is a well under there, we will find it…next year.

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