We have just undertaken some preliminary work on site on the outworks beyond St Oswald’s Gate, removing a little of the ivy that has grown over the area in recent decades. Even this small amount of work has revealed three wall lines each constructed of large masonry blocks that could well be of medieval date – that or reused earlier masonry.
It is difficult to be sure just looking at early photos of the area, but there appears to be a gate out towards the beach between a wall fragment extending down towards the tower on whose foundations a cottage had been constructed in the later 18th century. We may be seeing this in the wall lines we just uncovered as we appear to have a narrow entrance seen as a gap here.
Further out a substantial block of masonry standing many courses high was uncovered and this is very likely part of the cottage/tower. Called the Tower of Elmund’s Well in the early records. I am sure that there is lots more to be uncovered and interpreted during the dig and we hope there will be some interesting finds as well. Perhaps even artefacts we can interpret as in use by the apothecary who was said to inhabit the cottage.
In addition to uncovering the remains of the cottage and tower we will be investigating the area of the high medieval postern gate (a postern is like a back door to a castle) and a further wall in front that may be earlier defences.
We hear from a chronicle that the Scottish Army having invaded the north of England passed Bamburgh on its way south. A campaign that led to the Battle of the Standard that was fought near to Northallerton in Yorkshire. The chronicler tells us that ‘certain young men of the Bamburgh garrison began to jeer the passing Scots from behind a wall that they have built in front of the castle’. Their confidence in the defence was misplaced as the Scots were able to break in and it is said that 100 were killed.
At such an early date it is very likely that the Great Gate through which the castle is entered to this day had yet to be built and that St Oswald’s Gate was still the main way in. Can we uncover any evidence for this structure in the next three weeks?