Experimental Brewing Summary and Student Reflections

In a follow-up to our earlier blog on prehistoric brewing, these videos record a summary of the process from Becky Brummet, Experimental Programme Director:

As well as comments and reactions from two of our students who were there on the day:

Experimental Beer Brewing

We began last week’s experimental day by gathering ingredients, trying to use as many prehistoric resources as possible. Though some tools were still modern (the trough, matches to start the fire, chainsaw to cut firewood, a mesh sieve, and a pot) we used a variety of other resources during the day including:

-Un-malted Barley (already acquired from a local source)

-Rocks for the fire (from the T6 spoil heap)

 

Julie collecting stones

Student Julie gathering stones for firing,

 

-Water & a trough (modern trough, sourced from local farmer, James Brown)

-Elderflowers (gathered from site), and

 

Charlie picking elderflower.jpg

Assistant Supervisor Charlie, gathering elderflowers.

 

-Firewood (fallen deadwood gathered on site)

 

And after talking through the process, we began the beer brewing!

 

Becky teaching.jpg

Super visor Becky, teaching students and volunteers.

 

We started the fire, and heated the rocks for about one hour.

Building a fire.jpg

Fire Starting

 

During that time, we broke the husks of the barley to release the yeast. There was an added level of experimentation in that our barley was un-malted. We’ve had some success with this in the past, and were attempting to replicate those successes in order to test several hypotheses we had developed.

Julie and Ian grinding barley

Students Ian and Julie breaking the barley husks.

 

Grinding barley action shot

Close-up of the grinding process.

 

Grinding barley

The barley after the husks were broken.

 

When the rocks were hot enough (we didn’t verify an exact temperature, just made sure they sat in the fire for an hour), we added water to the trough, added the barley to the water, then added the rocks to the water to heat it up.

 

 

We needed about 7-8 rocks to get a warm temperature. We did not measure the exact temperature, rather we made sure it didn’t get too hot to the touch.

We stirred the mash, and rotated hot rocks in and out of the trough to keep the temperature up.

 

Becky stirring the mash.jpg

Supervisor Becky stirring the mash tun.

 

We had lots of down time while we kept the fire going, kept the rocks hot and the mash tun up to temperature, so we gathered local sedge (tusset grass) & began weaving platters & baskets – a skill we recently learned from a local community member, Paula Constantine who teaches basket weaving.

 

Sophie and Rachel weaving.jpg

Assistant Supervisors Rachel, Sophie and Charlie weaving sedge.

 

We also took some malted barley (leftover on site from previous beer brewing attempts) and sedge oil (created from pounding sedge root into a pulp and adding water), and created a paste which we then put on the fire to bake. We experimented with an different cooking technique than our earth oven from last year.

 

Baking on sedge.jpg

Unleavened bread baking above a fire.

 

After the mash tun brewed for two hours, we began to sieve the mixture into our pot:

Zach and Julie mash tun.jpg

Students Julie and Zac sieving the mash into a pot.

 

And then we added the elderflowers to the mixture.

Stripping elderflower.jpg

Students Zach, Ian and Julie adding elderflowers to the mix.

 

We’ll let the mixture brew while we continually monitor the progress throughout the week.

Next Sunday, we’ll check the ABV level with a hydrometer & let it brew for longer if need be (two weeks or so should be sufficient).

We usually can get an ABV level of 5%, so that’s our goal. If we’ve reached it by next Sunday, we’ll sample it, if not, it’ll brew longer.

Stay tuned for next week’s experimental instalment!

 

St Mary’s Middle School Visit the Bradford Kaims

1-Children from St Mary's Middle School visiting T6 at the Bradford Kaims.jpg

Children from St Mary’s Middle School visiting Trench 6.

 

Here at the Bradford Kaims we are greatly passionate about involving the local community with the archaeology, and we were delighted to have a group from St Mary’s Middle School visit our site last week. The children from Belford visited the Bradford Kaims on Wednesday afternoon and it was great to see the local children excited about the archaeology and engaging with the area’s past in a tangible way.

The children arrived in the afternoon and were given an introduction to the site by Project Officer, Tom Lally. Tom gave a brief history of the site, explaining the prehistoric eras during which the site was occupied and giving examples of some of our finds, such as wooden artefacts, flint tools and prehistoric pottery.

 

2-Project Officer, Tom Lally giving the children an introduction to the site..jpg

Project Officer Tom Lally, giving the children an introduction to the site.

 

Despite this kind of information being fascinating us archaeologists, you could notice eyes glazing over when some of the more technical terminology began being used. Assistant Supervisor, Rachel Brewer was the star of the day. Using her previous experience as a teacher she stepped in to talk about the archaeology in a way that was entertaining and accessible to the children. She spoke to the children about Trench 6 and the wooden platform in more depth and also explained about archaeological excavations more generally. The rest of the staff were in awe of her teaching method, as she even managed to keep the children’s interest when explaining archaeological contexts. She did an amazing job engaging the children, who left the excited and enthusiastically asking questions about the archaeology.

 

3-Assistant Supervisor, Rachel Brewer teaching the children about Trench 6..jpg

Assistant Supervisor Rachel Brewer, teaching the children about Trench 6.

 

We had planned for the children to get more involved and try environmental coring with Dr Richard Tipping from Stirling University, however due to time constraints they were unfortunately unable to join in before having to leave. Luckily the school are planning another visit to the Bradford Kaims later in the season, giving the children another opportunity to try their hand at environmental coring.

Everyone here at the Bradford Kaims hope the children of St Mary’s Middle School enjoyed their time at the site and we are looking forward to their next visit.

Introduction to Environmental Processing

In this video Thomas Fox, Environmental Assistant Supervisor, discusses the process of environmental sampling and what we can learn from it.

 

Stay tuned for further videos and updates here and on our YouTube Channel as the season progresses!

Bamburgh Castle, Trench 1 – Week 1 Interview

In this video Sam Serrano, Trench 1 Assistant Supervisor, discusses progress in the first week of the season and what’s planned for the coming weeks.

Stay tuned for further videos and updates here and on our YouTube Channel as the season progresses!

Bamburgh Castle, Trench 3 – Week 1 Interview

In the first castle video interview of the season Graham Dixon, Trench 3 Supervisor, discusses his initial plans for the 2016 season and briefly describes the trench.

Stay tuned for further videos and updates here and on our YouTube Channel as the season progresses!

Introducing the Staff of the Bradford Kaims, 2016

Site Director
Paul Gething

Paul

I began excavating in 1987 in Coventry. Since then I have worked in the Middle East, North Africa, France, Spain and the length and breadth of the UK. I have excavated and surveyed on sites ranging from palaeolithic to modern industrial, and pretty much everything in between. I was a founder member of the BRP back in 1997 when it began its first fieldwork season. I have worked in the Castle, Bowl Hole, Barrows, garden test pit project and I am currently the director of the Bradford Kaims Wetland Project as well as a BRP Project Director.

I studied Archaeological Science at the University of Sheffield, and post graduate Law at the University of Northumbria. I have an advanced driving qualification and Bronze medal in swimming and lifesaving.

Outside of the project I divide my archaeological time between experimental work, (smelting, bladesmithing and Medieval jewellery making techniques), writing, and lecturing. I have written for History, Current Archaeology, The Great Outdoors, History of War, Time Out and many other archaeological journals. My most recent book is titled Northumbria: The Lost Kingdom.

I currently lecture on the Bradford Kaims, the wider BRP project, prehistoric technology, metalwork, ancient weapons, and smelting to audiences at a variety of venues, universities, Local Societies and groups.

 

North Site

 

Tom Gardner – Project Officer

Tom G

I’m Tom, the returning Project Officer for the north side of the Kaims in the 2016 season. I am originally from Glasgow (although you will hear Hertfordshire), and now live in Edinburgh where I am working towards a PhD in geoarchaeology. I have been with the BRP for 5 years now as student and then staff, and love the inclusive and engaged atmosphere of the project. Of course the archaeology is exceptional, but what keeps me coming back every year is the people who you meet, and the general feeling of positivity and shared interests.

I am lucky to be at the head of a wonderful and expanded group of staff this year (see below), and can’t wait to see what we will achieve. My primary aims for the season are to get all of our staff trained up and imparting their new knowledge to our students and community volunteers. While doing this we will continue to focus our attention on Trenches 6 and 10, as well as some smaller excavations together with Tom Lally’s team to the south, on some more of our wonderful burnt mounds! Initially we will get going on our Neolithic trough sequence in T6 and get the majority of the burnt mound material trowelled away. Beyond that, we will reopen some of the areas of wooden platform which we investigated last year, and get to grips with the last of the key interfaces on site before we close up at the end of July. Please do come down and join us, or just come see the site! It would be great to share it with you.

 

Sofi Black – Supervisor

Sofi

My name is Sofia Black. I am from Bulgaria and I have just finished my undergraduate BSc in Archaeology in University of Aberdeen. I have been with the Bamburgh Research Project since 2014 and have been a staff member at the Bradford Kaims since 2015.

When I am not at the site, I preoccupy my time with reading, arts and crafts, music, and obsessing over Criminal Minds and Supernatural. Archaeology-wise, I have a keen interest in forensic studies, indigenous/community archaeologies, experimental, and wetland excavations. At the moment I am on the quest to find what is best for me, after I leave the granite wonder that is Aberdeen.

Excited about this new season and looking forward to working with the old and new people.

 

Rachel Brewer – Assistant Supervisor

Rachel B

I’m Rachel and I’m from Illinois, U.S.A. I’m excited to be back with the BRP after participating as a student in 2014. I have a B.A. in History from Southern Illinois University and an M.A. in Archaeology from Cardiff University, Wales.

I’m particularly interested in the Anglo-Saxons and early medieval pottery, but I loved working at the Kaims so much that I decided to go with prehistoric archaeology for the summer! For the last few years I’ve worked as a secondary teacher, but I hope to work in archaeology in the future. I look forward to meeting all of you!

 

Anna Finneran – Assistant Supervisor

Anna

My name is Anna and I’m from Maryland, though currently living in Florida. I first joined the BRP as a student in 2014, while studying as an undergraduate at Durham University. In 2015 I graduated with an MA in archaeology, also from Durham. This season I’ll be an assistant supervisor in Trench 6 at the Kaims.

 

Rachel Moss – Assistant Supervisor

Rachel M

This season, I am an Assistant Supervisor at the Bradford Kaims. I am currently an undergraduate studying History and Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh. For the past two years I have been a student at the Bamburgh Research Project, however, the archaeology of the Bradford Kaims particularly grabbed my attention and I knew that it was the site for me! In my spare time I am an avid supporter of Southampton Football Club, and enjoy music, good food, and wine.

I am incredibly excited to join the team at the Bradford Kaims, and look forward to seeing what will be uncovered this year!

 

South Site

 

Tom Lally – Project Officer

Tom L

G’day guys and girls, my name is Tom Lally and I am a Project Officer at the Bradford Kaims for season 2016. This is my fifth season with the project, after spending two years as a student, and the last three seasons as a staff member out at the Kaims. I will be responsible for several trenches this season, all of which have very exciting features that need to be excavated and understood to tie in with the rest of the site’s incredible archaeology.

I am from Adelaide in South Australia, which is where I undertook all of my university studies specialising in Indigenous Australian archaeology. Since graduating in 2013, I have spent most of my time here in the UK working on the Bamburgh Research Project, and as a commercial archaeologist; working mainly here in the North-east of England. My particular interests here lie in prehistory, but I have also worked on Roman, Medieval, and Industrial sites.

My time at the Bamburgh Research Project has been an incredible experience. I have learnt a wealth of knowledge about British archaeology and archaeological fieldwork in general, while also making lifelong friends. If I had any advice for students this season, I would say don’t be afraid to have a go. We were all fresh, shy students at one point in our lives too.

 

Becky Brummet – Supervisor

Becky

Hey everyone! Becky here and I’ll be one of the Supervisors at the Bradford Kaims for the 2016 field season. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology, focus on Archaeology, Minor in Irish Studies and a Certificate in GIS Technology from the University of Montana in the U.S. I currently live in Missoula, Montana with my husband and my cat. My archaeological interests are primarily in Northern European prehistory, which is what drew me to the Bradford Kaims in the first place.

This will be my third season with the Bamburgh Research Project. In 2014, I joined as a student to fulfill my field school requirement at my Uni and it was then that I realized I had truly found my calling (playing in the dirt!). BRP has given me the opportunity to learn, work and dig alongside professional archaeologists as well as introducing me to a variety of wonderful people from around the world. In 2015, I returned to the project as an Assistant Supervisor where I continued learning, though this time from a supervisor’s perspective. The skills I’ve learned from BRP thus far have provided me with confidence and experience to apply for professional archaeology jobs in the US and I’m looking forward to expanding that experience and knowledge even more this season.

I’m anticipating continuing my education by entering a Master’s program in 2017, with a focus on GIS/Remote Sensing and its applications to the field of Archaeology. When I’m not digging in the UK, chances are I’m on a hiking trail or camping with my husband somewhere in the western United States. This season I look forward to seeing old friends, making new friends and learning more from the students and staff alike.

 

Charlie Kerwin – Assistant Supervisor

Charlie

I’m a Londoner currently studying archaeology at the University of Nottingham. I first came to the Bamburgh Research project in 2014 to complete the fieldwork requirements of my degree. I absolutely loved the experience and knew straight away I wanted to come back, returning again as a student in 2015. This season I will be working as an assistant supervisor at the Bradford Kaims. The prehistoric site immediately captured my interest despite my degree focus being the Anglo-Saxon period.

When I’m not at BRP or stressing in the library you will probably find me back in London trying to seem cultured, wandering around an art gallery or at a concert. I’m looking forward to the coming season and being part of such an amazing team.

 

Ian Boyd – Assistant Supervisor

Ian

I’m Ian Boyd and I’m from Portchester, Hampshire via a lot of other places. This is my 2nd year with BRP (Bradford Kaims) and this year I will be assisting Becky Brummet in Trench 11, to continue the excavation from where we left off last year… Rumour has it we will be re-opening Trench 8 (exciting times ahead).

During the ‘Out Of Season’ I spent my time participating on a variety of Experimental Archaeology courses, as well as working as a volunteer for Hampshire Trust (Winchester Museums) where I worked ‘Front of House’.

 

 

 

Pre-Season Excavation Round-Up

Jo Kirton gives us a round up of the pre-season excavation at the Castle site:

Over the past week the BRP welcomed 10 students and 2 of their lecturers from the Catholic University of America (CUA), to the project and the excavations within the West Ward of Bamburgh Castle.

Some of the CUA group and BRP staff celebrating Graeme's birthday

Some of the CUA group and BRP staff celebrating Graeme’s birthday

Thanks to the enthusiasm of the students and staff and a little luck with the weather, we had a really productive week.

After the usual site introductions the CUA group quickly removed the tarps that had been protecting Trench 3 and set about cleaning the trench from head to toe. As is normally the case with the initial clean-up, we found a number of finds, such as styca coins, Samian Ware pottery and a fair few Fe blobs.

Cleaning!!!

Cleaning!!!

Abby with her Samian pottery rim

Abby with her Samian pottery rim

Burnt wood and Iron from one of the beam slots and Abby with her Samian Ware find

Burnt wood and Iron from one of the beam slots

Throughout the week students were taught how to plan and section draw, use the Total Station and levelling kit, process small and bulk finds, and use the siraff tank for processing environmental samples.

Casey, Abbey and Michael tackle one of the section drawings for the southern beam slot

Casey, Abbey and Michael tackle one of the section drawings for the southern beam slot

The archaeology was pretty exciting this week and the students needed all their newly acquired skills to excavate and record what we found.

The elusive southern beam slot for the probable tenth century building was picked up in three sections, which gave us a pretty good idea of the size of the building. This also meant lots of section drawings and planning!

The southern beam slot became apparent in the sections of the southern latrine pit

The southern beam slot became apparent in the sections of the southern latrine pit

On the final day we were able to excavate what we think are parts of the western and eastern beam slots in the NW and NE corners respectively. The excavation of the eastern beam slot went as expected and we found the next surface, which is beginning to appear in various areas of the trench. The western beam slot whilst quite clear, raised questions about its association with the mortared surface, which it abuts – this needs further investigation but should prove pivotal for understanding the NW corner of the trench.

Chris and Alexandra excavating the western beam slot.....or is it????

Chris and Alexandra excavating the western beam slot…..or is it????

Dr Kopar, Marielle and Casey excavating the eastern beam slot with Ass Sup, Joe Tong.

Dr Kopar, Marielle and Casey excavating the eastern beam slot with Ass Sup, Joe Tong.

We also took the opportunity to remove several features from the SE corner of the trench around the ninth century metalworking building, which has been evident for several seasons. We were able to remove several external features, such as the flagged surface just outside one of the entrances, packing stones around the ‘doughnut’ shaped stone, which may have served as a drain and the hearth packing stones that sit between the metalworking building and the southern latrine pit.

Goodbye flagstones!

A hive of activity!

As part of the excavation of all these features the CUA group were able to complete cut and deposit sheets and learn how to take and record environmental samples.

As well as working in the trench, our visitors were able to tour the interior of the Castle, visit the locations of the Chapel and Bowl Hole excavations, make a trip to St Aidans in the village and head out to Lindisfarne. They are now touring significant Northumbrian sites in the North East, such as Hexham, York, Durham and Jarrow. We hope they have fun and learn a little along the way!

Hexham Abbey from the seventh century cript steps

Hexham Abbey from the seventh century cript steps

The main dig season starts Monday 2nd of June. We will have all the latest on the excavations at the Castle and the prehistoric wetlands site out at the Bradford Kaims.

Pre-season Excavation at Bamburgh Castle

This Wednesday (14th May) a small band of Bamburgh Research staff (Graeme Young, Jo Kirton and Joe Tong) will be heading up to Bamburgh Castle to prepare for the arrival of a group of post-grad students from the Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington. The students along with their professors will be partaking in a pre-season excavation. From Saturday (17th of May) we will be working in the Anglo-Saxon and Viking period layers in Trench 3, in the castles West Ward.

SAMSUNG

Cleaning back in Trench 3

Cleaning back in Trench 3

The students are a mixture of post graduates studying History, Medieval & Byzantine Studies, English, and Anthropology. A real mix! Their team leader is Dr Lilla Kopár, Associate Professor at the university with a particular focus on art-history, Old English and archaeology.

Dr Kopár explains why she decided to bring her students across the Atlantic to work with the BRP and Bamburgh Castle.

Dr Lilla Kopar

Dr Lilla Kopar

“It all started about a year ago with a conversation with Jo on a field trip in search of early medieval sculpture in the Wirral. We talked about the significance (and fun) of being involved in excavations as a student and the difficulties of being a scholar of material culture of the Middle Ages “from the other side of Pond.” Then Jo had a brilliant suggestion: Why not join the BRP dig for a few weeks, or even better, take a group of students along to Bamburgh?

Our institution, The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., has no official program in medieval archaeology but we have a strong cohort of medievalists at the Center for Medieval and Byzantine Studies and in various departments, and a number of us have a keen interest in material culture. As the “local Anglo-Saxonist”, I teamed up with my historian colleague and friend, Dr. Jennifer Davis, who regularly teaches a course on medieval archaeology for historians, and proposed a trip combining the archaeology field school with visits to historic sites (Lindisfarne, Hexham, Jarrow, Durham, York), all embedded in a team-taught graduate course on early medieval Northumbria. The idea was received with great enthusiasm by our adventure-loving master’s and doctoral students and we quickly had a crew of ten signed up for the trip. CUA’s Center of Global Education welcomed the idea of a study-aboard experience for graduate students and has provided financial and organizational support.

Our students come from four different graduate programs (History, Medieval & Byzantine Studies, English, and Anthropology) and bring various kinds of expertise as well as expectations to Bamburgh. Some had participated in excavations before, while others know more about Old English and Bede than about trowels and trenches. We all are looking forward to hands-on training in archaeology, the excitement of new finds, the breath-taking surroundings, and the experience of being in England (well, not so much the rain). It will be an unforgettable trip and we are very excited to join the BRP crew.”

The students are looking forward to excavating through layers of archaeology dating to periods they have been researching on their courses. CUA English Lit student, Sara Sefranek told us….

I don’t know what to expect, to be honest! My degree is in English Lit with a focus on Old English Poetry. For years I’ve depended on the work of archaeologists to help inform me about the history & culture that produces the texts that I study, so I was excited by the opportunity to learn about that first hand. I hope I’m ready for whatever turns up! As a lit student I’d be curious about finds that incorporate text in some way… some of my research has also been on Christian incorporation of pagan iconography, so if such things have been found, I’d love to see them.”

We will be updating the blog and Twitter feed @brparchaeology with all our activities and discoveries during their stay, so please pop back soon.

 

Want to join the excavation team?

Its the New Year and plans are being made for the summer excavation season. We are glad to say that many of our existing staff are returning this year and in addition we have a number who have dug with us during previous seasons applying for positions on the team. There is still a little scope for new applicants though. We maintain a limited number of positions that are unpaid but allow attendance of the full season with free accommodation, if you can bring some needed skills to the team. Experience with outreach, media and fund-raising would be particularly welcome.

There isn’t a formal process, just a case of emailing us (graemeyoung@bamburghresearchproject.co.uk) with an expression of interest and some information about yourself. The core team should be meeting to make decisions by mid February at the latest.