The Bamburgh Research Project needs you

The Bamburgh Research Project is currently undertaking a review of our organisation and aiming towards a relaunch in the next few weeks. After many years of successful research at Bamburgh Castle, the Bowl Hole burial ground and, more recently, the wetland site at the Bradford Kaims, we have reached a point where we feel that positive change is needed to enable us to properly fulfil our ambitions. We have a growing body of archaeological research, a film archive, and increasingly, a presence in social media. In the future we want to greatly increase our output of publication, education and dissemination of all types, from the academic to the popular.

In order to enable this we will need to substantially increase the scale of our post excavation work and just as importantly add new people with additional skills to our team. We have been supported in evaluating our project and planning for the future by the Northumberland County Council Enterprise Team and have already undertaken a strategy day, during which we identified a number of areas in which we need to expand our skill base. These areas include, management, publication, stakeholder engagement, finance and perhaps most importantly of all income generation.

As a result of the consultation we have begun the process of becoming a limited company and will be expanding the management structure of the BRP, including additional directors and adding a new advisory panel. The full list of responsibilities that the new management structure will be responsible for are:

Income Generation
People management
PR and marketing
Policy and procedure
Strategic planning
Stakeholder engagement

We have a wonderful core team of archaeologists and supporters, but we will need to find additional people willing to become involved with our work. We hope that this will prove an opportunity for people interested in archaeology, but who do not necessarily work in the profession, to join us bringing much needed skills and of course enthusiasm to what we hope will be an exciting future.

If you have been following our work, and would like to become more directly involved then we would love to hear from you. It would be terrific if you can bring a particular skill, or skills, with you that we can benefit from, but the most important thing we ask is that you are passionate about history and archaeology and have enough time to be able to be constructively involved.

The next stage will be a further strategy meeting to be held on Saturday 14th March at St Cuthbert’s Anglican Church Hall, Durham (DH1 4NH). It has between booked between 1:00pm and 5:00pm, but there is no need to stay for the full time. It has parking nearby and is within walking distance of the railway station.

If you are interested at all and would like to attend then we would love to hear from you. Just send us an email to: with a few details about yourself, in order to secure a place at the event. We would also like to hear from you if you are interested in working with the BRP and cannot attend the event itself.

2011 Season Underway

The 2011 season of excavation at Bamburgh started this morning! Just like last year, you can keep up with work and discoveries here at the BRP blog. For the first few days we’ll be settling in to our offices and uncovering the trenches after a long (and very harsh) British winter. We’ll keep you updated on our progress!

2011 Season Objectives

This year, excavation commences on the 7th June and will run up to the 1st August inclusive. The 2011 season of archaeological work to be undertaken at Bamburgh will build on previous seasons within the two major excavation trenches, and will continue with post-excavation processing.
Trench 1

Excavation within Trench 1 will continue concentrate on the gradual reduction of the medieval deposits in the southern half of the trench with the long term aim of revealing more of the early medieval buildings encountered during earlier seasons in the northern part of the trench. Pottery recovery within the trench noticeably reduced during the 2010 season indicating layers of pre-12th century date have been reached. The level at which the robber trench for the stone building, known from the earlier excavation, is encountered will be significant at it is seen as indicative of the date the building was robbed. It is hoped that this issue will be resolved during 2011.

The excavation will be conducted within the present bounds of the trench and no extension of the trench is proposed.

Trench 3

Having successfully identified the expected later medieval features intruding in the late early medieval layers (10th to 11th century AD) currently under excavation, the 2010 season concentrated on investigating and characterising the metal producing layers at the south end of the trench. The presence of a building, that potentially contained the styca coin hoard as well as being the likely source for the metalwork concentration, was an important discovery which will be built upon by further investigation during 2011. In addition the central part of the trench, known to contain a number of pits or post-holes will be further investigated in order to better understand its form and sequence.

As with Trench 2, the excavation will be conducted within the present bounds of the trench and no extension of the trench is proposed.


Analysis of the excavation archive will continue to concentrate on the implementation of the digitisation of the site record. Quantification of the bulk finds will continue in order to allow for an assessment of their research potential. A 3D model of the metal finds within Trench 3 from the 2008, 2009, 2010 and the present season will be compiled in order to resolve its relationship with the building. In addition further soil sub-samples will be taken over the trench area in order to identify the nature of the, probably industrial, activity being undertaken. 

 As in 2010, you’ll be able to follow all the work we’re doing here at Bamburgh through this blog. We’ll also be keeping our Facebook page and Twitter feed up to date with useful information. We’re always keen to hear what you think about our work, and we welcome any questions you might have. We hope to have a productive season!

Carved Stone and Archaeomagnetic Dating

An update from BRP Director Graeme Young:

The stone slab that was thought could very well be sculpted was taken to Durham for conservation and examination at the end of the season. Sadly once it was cleaned and properly examined by the experts, it was found to be almost certainly of natural origin, representing a type of fossil common in sedimentary rock on the northern part of the east coast of Britain. We held off publishing immediately as we were not sure if it would make it into the final edit for the Time Team episode that featured the BRP and was broadcast in late April in the UK. We didn’t want to spoil the moment of discovery as filmed! Although sad in a way it is an important part of research. Any theory is only as good as the evidence and new or better information often forces us to revise our thoughts I am sure there is every chance of finding the genuine article in the future and we will certainly be keeping our eyes peeled.

We also mentioned the archaeomagnetic dating samples that were taken on the stone surface uncovered at the Kaims site last season. We have the dates back and they are really exciting as it seems that the strange stone ‘platform’ dates back to 4000-4500 BC! We will certainly be expanding the trench to put this feature into a wider context during he summer season that is nearly upon us.

Our first days back on site at the castle will be the weekend of the 28th and 29th of May. The plan being to start to get our offices back into operation and start the process of cleaning the site up ready for work.

I hope may of you caught the Time Team episode on Bamburgh. As ever with TV its a bit of a snapshot of a much larger subject, but I thought they did a good job and some of the shots were pretty spectacular! I should add if anyone has any questions about the programme then do add a comment and we will do our best to answer them!

2011 Season Dates Confirmed!

The dates for the 2011 season have now been confirmed! We’ll be digging from Monday 6th June until Sunday 31st July, and plan to work both inside Bamburgh Castle and in the Bamburgh landscape just as we did last year.

We have placements for about nineteen students for each week of the dig. We’re also looking for scholarship students to work with us for the full season, and will be offering places on our Dig for a Day scheme too so if you aren’t able to come for a full week, you can still get a taste of what archaeology is all about.

All the details about the 2011 season as well as guidance on how to apply for places are now up on the BRP website. We expect places to fill up fast, so get your application in as soon as you can to avoid disappointment!

More details about exactly what we plan to do in 2011 will be available soon – watch this space for further announcements!