Bradford Kaims – Trench 14 Update

Trench 14 is actually a combination of two earlier trenches: 8 & 11. 

IMG_0871 - GV of Stone Feature in T14, SE (14003).JPG

Trench 14 and the stone feature within it.

Trench 8

Trench 8 was opened in 2013 and contained an artificial mound comprised of larger stones (30-45 cm in diameter) underneath a layer of smaller stones (4-10 cm in diameter). 

A quarter section was dug out to determine the depth of the mound, and we discovered a thin layer of peat under which lay a brushwood platform. As the season ended, we backfilled the quarter section and left it to future investigations.

Trench 11

Trench 11 was opened in 2015 in an attempt to further understand the stone mound feature by examining the surrounding area, as well as determining if any relationship existed between Trench 8 and the western end of Trench 9 – where a large post was discovered in situ at the end of season 2015. 

A paleochannel with layers of sand and brushwood was discovered at the southern end, which was less than a metre from the north end of Trench 8. One side of the channel edge looked like it may have been cut intentionally though further investigations are required to determine if that was the case. 

Also within the trench, we discovered over 10 pieces of wood around 6 cm wide & ranging from a half metre to one metre in length lying within the peat layer. Two had potential cuts in them, giving us an indication that at least a couple of them were used by early humans. 

So far this season…

We have expanded Trench 14 to include both Trenches 8 and 11, and are in the process of expanding the quarter section to give us a fresh understanding of the stratigraphy of the artificial stone mound and the brushwood platform lying under the peat layer. We also plan to expand the trench into the western edge of Trench 11 to understand if a relationship between 8, 9, 11 and 14 exists. Our plans are to extend into the palaeochannel to determine if it was cut intentionally and to excavate at least partially into the edge of the peat layer to discover if more worked wood exists. 

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.

Season Intro and Week 1 Diary – The Bradford Kaims

A slightly belated blog which is intended to be read in conjunction with yesterday’s post regarding the promontory area.

Written by Tom Gardner, Tom Lally, and Becky Brummet.

 

And so we are back to work at the Bradford Kaims, and thought it would be a good idea to outline our plans for this seasons excavation. We are nearing the end of our evaluation phase on site, and have some areas which we need to finish and wrap up. Our investigations are divided into three areas, the north of the site in Trench 6, the south of the site in Trench 9, and the promontory area with small excavations in Trench 12, Trench 13, and Trench 42.

 

Trench 6

Trench 6 finished last year with a focus upon our wooden platform and a complex pit sequence below the burnt mound deposits. We kicked off this season with a trench clean and photograph, before re-opening an area from 2014 over a series of Neolithic wooden troughs associated with our earlier burnt mound deposits. These troughs pose an interesting sequence of site use, abandonment, and re-use, and are impressive pieces of architecture in themselves. The latest in the sequence is a large and intact oak trunk, which has been hollowed out vertically all the way through, and set in the ground as a trough or well. This is cut into an earlier plank lined trough, and the whole sequences is surrounded by a series of post-holes and pits, with capping burnt mound deposits slumping over the lot.

 

1 - Trench 6 oak trough

Trench 6 oak trough.

 

Beyond finishing this sequence, the plans for Trench 6 involve expanding to the north to excavate a later burnt mound identified last year in the section, removing the earlier mounds onto the subsoil, and working out the interface between our burnt mound sequences and the wooden platform from 2015. With this, and the other areas of work, we have a busy summer ahead!

 

2 - Trench 6 end af 2015 season

Trench 6 at the end of the 2015 season.

 

Trench 9

Trench 9 finished with a flurry at the end of the 2015 season, and we aim to pick up right where we left off. The trench edges have been redefined, the backfill emptied out, and the flurry of features found last season are visible once again. It’s time to get things started for 2016.

With 2016 likely being the final season that we have Trench 9 open, we have a lot of work to do. Last season ended with the discovery of a possible sweat lodge, Mesolithic hearth and a possible man-made water channel, all of which will need to be investigated this season. As a result of time constraints and having more precise areas to excavate, the dimensions of Trench 9 have been slightly altered to accommodate for this. We will now focus heavily on the middle of the trench where the main features lie, as well as extending the trench out into the fen, in order to determine the purposes of the wooden features and timbers that were cutting into the section in 2015.

 

3 - Trench 9 end of 2015 season

Trench 9 at the end of the 2015 season.

 

The specific aims this season are to investigate the heavily wooded area in the North-West corner, excavate our Neolithic post-hole and post further to determine its function, determine the age and function of the wooden ‘plank’ which has been visible since T9 was first opened in 2014, and then focus most of our efforts into the central areas where the hearth, channel and sweat lodge are located. We need to determine the functions of these features individually and then whether they are contemporary with one another. Despite a burnt mound being the reason why this trench was opened to begin with, there is every chance that these features could be the whole reason why prehistoric people were drawn to this location in the landscape in the first place.

 

Trench 9 start of 2016

Trench 9 at the start of the 2016 season.

 

 

An Excerpt from the Promontory – Bradford Kaims

Trench 12, 13 & 42 were opened (reopened, in T42’s case) this season for sampling & investigations into the burnt mounds located on the promontory.

T12 is a 2m x 3m trench located on the southern end of the promontory. Shortly after opening the trench, we began to find some really interesting artefacts. In the peat layer, we found a piece of burnt quartz & when we continued down through the peat onto the burnt mound layer, we found more: two pieces of worked flint & two pieces of burnt bone! Quite exciting finds for a trench originally opened up for sampling.

 

Ck6DGaUXAAArh4G

A piece of worked flint from trench 12.

 

Trench 13 is 1m x 2m trench located just off the edge of the promontory, near the waters edge. Like T12, it was opened for sampling & has also produced some really interesting finds! Just below our peat layer, we discovered a layer which consists of shells & sand moulded & formed together. In that layer, we uncovered two pieces of charcoal, nine small (4-10cm sized) pieces of worked wood & one log roughly 1m long. We think the smaller wooden pieces may have been stakes & considering their proximity to the waters edge & the fact that a couple were orientated at a 45° angle, it could indicate fencing.

 

Ck6EV63XIAEQluC

A piece of worked wood from trench 13.

 

A 2m x 4m portion of trench 42 was reopened for sampling, with the focus being on the burnt mound, the trough & the limestone piece. A 1m x 2m spit was dug out of the north end. We expected the burnt mound material to continue at least a half meter, but we quickly uncovered an interesting mottled orange clay layer only 4-5cm into the burnt mound layer.

 

Cl8yOeCXIAAhXJ7

The re-opening of trench 42.

 

Since the weather has turned more amiable for excavations to continue in our other trenches, we have taken a break from our work on the promontory, but plan on returning to it to as soon as feasible.

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!

Another week in the Finds Department

IMG_1123

The Windmill during a brief respite from the rain.

Good morning from the post-excavation department! We have had a busy few weeks processing some intriguing finds including a possible iron stylus, a worked stone bead, several bits of unidentified burnt clay discs, and a potential lead pendant, to name a few.

IMG_1117

Finds Illustration

Environmental supervisor Thomas Fox has kept our students engaged at the flot tank processing environmental samples from last year while Post-ex supervisor Jeff Aldrich has been taking advantage of the poor weather to give students the a chance to illustrate and process our finds.

IMG_1138

Students Katie and Kelly sorting environmental flotation samples.

The students have also had the opportunity to learn a bit of post-excavation from Bradford Kaims processing finds, including a plethora of worked wooden stakes and the resultant paperwork led by trench supervisor Becky Brummet. Because of its distance from civilisation, it is a separate process at each site: the Castle and the Kaims.

IMG_3454.JPG

Students Joe and Rachel filling out timber recording sheets.

With the sun shining and the winds calmer, the students and staff will have ample time in the trenches to find us some new artefacts, hopefully further fleshing out the story of Bamburgh Castle.

Bradford Kaims Experimental Archaeology Schedule

Come and see experimental archaeology in action!

Hot rocks

Hot rocks used to heat water and malted barley as part of the brewing process.

 

19th June – Prehistoric Beer Brewing

Learn the process of prehistoric beer brewing!

26th June – Prehistoric Pottery

Using local materials procured from ongoing excavations, we will attempt to make small pottery pieces!

3rd July – Beer Decanting/TBA

If the beer has fermented sufficiently, we’ll be decanting our brew and testing the ABV (and sampling it!)! If the beer isn’t ready there may be a day of flint knapping.

10th July – Flint Knapping

Learn the basics of creating stone tools (like those discovered on-site) using flint and obsidian.

17th July – Woodworking

Learn the basics of rudimentary woodworking.

24th July – Resin Production/Hafting

We hope to create resin and use it to haft tools that we’ve made during the season.

**Activities are subject to change depending on weather conditions & ability to procure materials and/or resources**

We welcome local volunteers and community members, but for logistic purposes, please let us know ahead of time if you wish to drop by!

 

Becky Brummet

Experimental Programme Director

Email: ruthefordr22@yahoo.com

BRP Office Phone: 01668214897

SAMSUNG

Flint blade found in Trench 6.

 

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’.