The Bamburgh Research Project (BRP) is an independent, non-profit archaeological project investigating Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland, one of the most important archaeological sites currently under excavation in northern England. We are also investigating a prehistoric site just a few miles from the castle, the Bradford Kaims. Since 1996 we’ve been working to uncover the history of this fascinating castle and its environs, from prehistory to the present day. We aim, through our work, to bring this past to life for everyone.

This blog is a place for us to share our news, our work and our passions with anyone and everyone who is interested in what we do. During the open season (17th of June to the 20th of July 2018), we’ll be blogging our archaeology as we dig it, so you can share in our finds, our frustrations and, of course, our fun – we hope you’ll share with us in turn!

Outside the summer season, we’ll be blogging our thoughts and ideas about the news and issues that are important to us in our work. It’s not all work, though: we’ll be reporting on some of the fun stuff we get up to through the course of the year. And of course, we’ll be sure to keep you up to date with any interesting out-of-season developments!

If you’re interested in getting involved with the BRP and its work, or just finding out more about what we do, come and visit us at  www.bamburghresearchproject.co.uk. We welcome any comments you have to make about what we do or what we have to say.

3 thoughts on “About

  1. Thank you for all the hard work and investment of time in the Bamburgh Research Project.

    We visited Bamburgh Castle yesterday and really enjoyed it, including the finds in the archaeology section. My son Coenraad found his namesake in the castle (Coenred who was king of Bernicia 704 – 709). I have researched our genealogy for these past 25 years, and I am often struck by the repetition of names within the family lines, sometimes after a hiatus of 300 – 600 years. This time-lapse is truly amazing, and a first for me.

    The way our Coenraad is connected is via Siward, the Earl of Northumberland. Siward married into the Royal family of Bernicia in around 1032, marrying Aelflaed of Bernicia, who was a grand daughter of Uhtred the Bold. After marrying, Siward settled a family feud that dated back to Uhtred’s time. He also became responsible for the upbringing of the young Malcolm, future king of Scotland (Malcolm III Caenmore) who died at Alnwick in battle, south of Bamburgh. He would no doubt have entered the Bamburgh compound through the St Oswald’s Gate on numerous occasions.

    Another related example of repetition of names is Waltheof. Waltheof was Uhtred the Bold’s father, and Waltheof II was the surviving son of Earl Siward who unfortunately fell out with William the Conqueror, and was beheaded in 1079 in Winchester.

    The Waltheof I ancestry is back down the line to Coenred as I understand, although we are discussing events that happened more than 1000 years ago and there is not a lot of documentary evidence

    Earl Siward of Northumbria had two grandsons, both called Siward (the Blond and the Red) via his son Osbern, who died young in battle against MacBeth at Dunsinane in 1054. Both the grandsons called Siward distinguished themselves in battle and services to kings. One of those Siwards is our ancestor and his progeny became Balfour with the mark of an Otter’s head in their heraldry. The otter’s head is based on this Siward killing a Danish accomplice of Donald Bane who was a challenger to the throne of Scotland. This Dane was called Ottar, hence the otter’s head. This is memorialized by a Latin deed which is reflected in family genealogy e.g. Burke’s Peerage. “Siward, cui dat Edgar rex vallem de Or at Maey pro capite Ottar Dani” (1097)

    The other Siward was the forefather of the Armstrong clan, and distinguished himself in battle where he carried Edgar of a horse that had been injured, on his one arm. Edgar never became king of England but did spend time in the Middle East during the crusades. I understand that Siward the Red is known to have been there as well, and there are indications that they joined the Varangian Guards for a time. I am not sure when this battle would have happened, and the Armstrong website information puts it too late in the 11th Century. If my memory serves me correctly, Siward the Red rescued Edgar during a battle in the 1090’s. Based on Osbern’s death in 1054, the two Siward boys would have been quite young then, and in their 40’s at the time they provided their services in the late 11th Century.

    In other words, Lord Armstrong may have restored direct family heritage through strength in arms. I have a feeling he knew this when he undertook his magnum opus in his old age. It would be interesting to find out from you if this was the case or whether you agree with this connection.

    I have myself been drawn to restore ancient buildings in the same way, as I did in Riga in 2000. I became a member of the Church Council of the Anglican Church of St Saviour’s, fundraising and supervising restoration works. This was well before I even knew our Balfour family members had been instrumental in the building of this church in 1857 as part of a group of British merchants in Latvia at that time. I do remember having a very powerful urge to invest my time and energy in the restoration, which in hindsight appears to be linked to family. Old church records further confirmed that a direct ancestor had come through Riga in 1574 on his way to lead the Scottish regiments in the service of the Swedish to the siege of Wesenburg.

    We always walk in our forefather’s footsteps.

    F.C Balfoort – Dutch branch of Balfour family

    • We are delighted that you enjoyed your visit to the castle. It is a fascinating place in a spectacular setting, so not hard to understand why it has been a focus of occupation and a place of importance for so many centuries! It seems a great many people find a fascination in history and archaeology through the process of researching a family tree. We know that the 1st Lord Armstrong was very proud of his Northumbrian roots, but whether he felt a particular affinity to Bamburgh, beyond wanting to preserve and restore this important site for the nation, we are less certain.

      Genealogy is not our area of expertise but if you do have any particular questions regarding the Earls of Bamburgh we would try and answer than as well as we are able. The best contact is graemeyoung@bamburghresearchproject.co.uk

      • Thank you for your answer with Graham’s details, whom I will write to now. I also have a picture to share with you from our Roskilde research which is very similar to the gold piece you have which you named “the Beast”. I think it is actually a Jelling style design from Denmark which would confirm the presence of Danish Vikings on site, which does not surprise me. I will send it to Graeme because I can’t attach it here.

        Best regards,


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