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.

Sad news


Regular visitors to the blog may have noticed that we have been uncharacteristically quiet over the last few days. The following announcement by Paul Gething, BRP Director and Director of the Bradford Kaims excavation, on behalf of the BRP staff and students will make the reason, sadly, all too clear.

Exciting discoveries are being made and further blog updates will follow as things get back as close to normal as we can manage.

Graeme Young, BRP Director

News from the Kaims has been noticeable by its absence recently. It is with immense sadness that I relate the reason for this. Jackie Scott, the Kaims Supervisor died very suddenly at our campsite on Thursday evening. The cause of his death appears to be anaphylactic shock caused by an allergy. The Project staff and the attending ambulance personnel went to great lengths to try to save Jackie’s life. Despite their best efforts Jackie was pronounced dead at the hospital just after 8:30 pm. The Senior Doctor informed us that Jackie passed quickly and without pain. Funeral details have not been announced yet, but as soon as we have them we will let everyone know.

As you can imagine, this tragic news has thrown the Kaims and the wider project into disarray. Jackie was a big part of our community and he is greatly missed. We are still grieving, and it has only been a short time since he left us, but each day there are a few less tears and few more laughs as we relate our stories about Jackie.

He was kind. He was gentle. He was humorous. He was a talented archaeologist. But most of all, he was our friend. We will miss you Jackie. Godspeed!

Paul Gething. BRP Director

Jackie Scott

Jackie Scott

2013 Staff Positions

It’s nearing the end of week three of the 2013 season, and it is with great pleasure that we run through the staff and their positions for the season. We thought we would try something new, since no doubt you have all seen plenty of pictures of us already.

Starting with the always busy windmill team:

We have golden girl Kirstie Watson as Finds Supervisor and team comedian Jeff Aldrich will be Finds Supervisor from next week, and Laurel Nagengast is the new Finds Assistant Supervisor in 2013.Image

Then there is the lovely Emily Andrews and Natalie Bittner, who make up the two Media Supervisors in 2013. You may already be familiar with the girls, Emily having organised this years’ Sponsume fundraising, and Natalie manning the Twitter and Facebook accounts.


Lauren Nofi has taken the reins of Environmental, adding to her portfolio which already includes Outreach. If you have time to take one of her Trench Tours, she will give you an overview of the work undertaken over the last few years.Image

And in the Trenches:

Graham Dixon returns to the castle this year to supervise Trench 1, and Jessica Garratt is back in her Assistant Supervisor role.  There’s a lot of work happening down there this season, so keep an eye on the blog for their regular updates.


Stephanie Rushe-Chapman has taken over as Trench 3 Supervisor. The hardworking Anne Hartog joins her as Assistant Supervisor, and the girls are hard at work in the NW corner of the trench as we speak.Image

Once again, Neal Lythe is Supervisor of the Bradford Kaims Project, with Jackie Scott, Dave Green and Tom Gardner as his Assistant supervisors.


And because Director Graeme Young gave his tacit approval for this blog when he asked “Can you make me one with a dragon wrapped around a windmill?”, here it is. GraemeBanner


Welcome to Bamburgh 2013!

The Bamburgh Research Project season 2013 has officially begun!


Blue sky over the windmill. Here’s hoping that there is more on the way!

Large scale cleaning has begun in Trench 1, and Graham D and Jess are hard at work getting the Trench opened up and ready to go.


Finds Supervisor Kirstie watches as cleaning takes place in T1

Our Kaims Krew are getting their gear together- The bell tent needs to go up and the tea paraphernalia need to be ready before work can begin. In the meantime, they are checking over the equipment and ensuring that everything is in working order.


Graeme Young brings everyone up to date on current archaeological best practice.

We’ll be working hard to keep you up to date with our season, so make sure you follow us on Twitter @brparchaeology, Facebook on our fan page and our new Instagram will show photos fresh from the trenches.

BRP: making trouble all over the North

Being  up and about early on a Saturday or Sunday morning here at Bamburgh is no mean feat. And for that reason I beg your forgiveness for the fluffy nature of this blog post. However, many of us do rise at a respectable hour, and get out and enjoy the breathtaking sights unique to this part of Britain. Thats right, folks, today I’m going to show you what we at the Bamburgh Research Project get up to on our days off. It won’t always be pretty, but bear with me, and I promise we will be back to high quality archaeological blogging in no time.


About an hour and 20mins away is the city of Edinburgh. We planned to leave straight from work, and have a night out, followed by a touristy day. I’m sorry to say that once we got into Edinburgh and had some pizza delivered, this happened:

Jeff was just lucky we left the sharpies in the Windmill

Next morning we headed out to see Greyfriars Bobby, the Royal Mile, and do some necessary shopping.

Natalie meets Greyfriars Bobby.

Oh, and we had a crack at Edinburgh’s biggest nachos. I’m very pleased to say, the girls won, finishing their bowl in record time, despite Jess, Lally and Jeff having a good 15 minute headstart.

Competitive Eating at it’s finest.


Being the large group of nerds that we are, we were so amazed by Barter Books that no one managed to get a picture. Just go there. Really.

There’s also a beautiful castle and gardens. Some of the group went to the Poison Garden. Since then we’ve all been really nice to them, as we are a little concerned by the plant cuttings Kirstie now has in her tent.

Jess admires Alnwick Castle.

Let’s not forget the fun we have here in Bamburgh Village as well:

Walking to the village gives views like this.

If you ask nicely, one of our ex-supervisors might read you a story:

Dan reads ‘Moose!’.

And let’s not forget that we have a sandpit on site.

Even on her days off, Jess loves to dig.

We have a lot of fun here at the Bamburgh Research Project. We have the usual Pub, Quiz and BBQ nights, but we have a lot of fun outside of planned activities too. If you have any suggestions of things we can do on our days off, or if you’d like to join us for a day, a week or a season, get in touch via our website http://www.bamburghresearchproject.co.uk/ or Twitter at #brparchaeology

Introducing… JESSICA GARRATT!!!

Another installment in “Staff Profiles”, meeting your favorite BRP people.

Jessica Garratt

Responsibilities at the project: The best way to describe my job is to assist Alex, the Trench 1 supervisor, in running the trench and teaching students about archaeology. Assistant only to a certain degree. (I am not his personal tea lady).

T1 Assistant Supervisor Jess

How did you get involved with the project?

I first came to the project last season, as I was required to complete 10 weeks of fieldwork for one of my university degree courses. I heard about the project from fellow students and thought it would be great to get my mits on medieval archaeology as this area is not taught in depth at my university. It’s great to be learning about a different culture through remains.

What has your experience with the BRP been like?

I have gained fantastic experiences from BRP seasons (both from BRP’11 and BRP’12 so far). Last season, when I was a student, I found the tuition to be of a high level. I learned absolutely loads, from one-on-ones with supervisors to overcoming my blonde moments! This year, returning as an assistant supervisor, I am doing my best to teach students in the trench. Hopefully, I am teaching correctly. It would be nice to see them leave the BRP with new skills, knowledge, and good memories.I am learning a lot from the trench supervisor. In particular, I’m getting a more in-depth idea of a supervisor’s perspective of archaeology , and it’s fab to be seeing things from this new level.

Jess hard at work

Out of the trench and in my spare time, I get the chance to meet and chill with people from here, there, and everywhere. When not at work, I do everythingfromsitting around the mess tent and chatting, to mini adventures like battling the North sea at midnight, to climbing up the quarry or saving a seal puppy with Kirstie, the finds supervisor (long story). This season’s students and staff are a great laugh, and I am glad to be spending my summer with them.

Hopes for the rest of the season?

I hope the rest of the season is all smooth sailing, especially anything I am responsible for!

Smooth sailing! – Rainy day antics with Alex and Jess

Personally, I want to get to grips with my staff position and gain confidence in teaching students and sussing out the archaeology that’s coming up in Trench 1. It’s looking pretty complex at the moment, but it’s a great challenge. I would also like to get myself down to the Kaims at some point. I miss it and want to see what’s occurring!

Anything you would like to add?

If anything goes wrong, it wasn’t me.

Next up… Jeffrey Aldrich, Finds Assistant Supervisor

Staff Profile

Media Supervisor, Joe Tong, has kindly answered some questions about his role at the BRP.

Name: Joseph William Tong
Position: Media Supervisor

Joe Tong at play

Responsibilities at the project?

My main responsibility is video recording the archaeology uncovered by the BRP. This involves:

  • Recording the progression of the excavations, recording as layers are removed, finds are revealed, as a feature is dug and as cleaning reveals contexts.
  • Encouraging diggers, visitors and staff to offer opinions, interpretations and ideas to bridge the interpretive gap between archaeologists and the written record.
  • Recording the archaeologists who form the written record.

As well as the recording of archaeology to form an archival record of the project, I am also responsible for creating short videos for public dissemination which act as an informal output for the project.

How did you get involved with the project?

I got involved with the project in 2011, through Joanne Kirton who is an archaeological supervisor for the project. I know Joanne through my time at the University of Chester where she is a post-graduate student and lecturer and she encouraged me to come along. Although I consider myself an archaeologist I came as a media student in 2011, this experience fostered a desire to make archaeology accessible to everyone through media.

What do you do out of the season?

I have just completed my undergraduate degree in Archaeology from the University so my life is somewhat up in the air! All I can currently be certain of is the next three months! I am working for the project until the end of June when the reigns of media supervisor are passed over to the capable hands of Matthias Jensen. I will be working (and sunning myself) in Bulgaria for the following six weeks then returning to North Wales to work as media supervisor on another project called Project Eliseg.

Other than this I hope to work and save for a year in order to start an MA in 2013.

Hopes for the rest of the season? 

I hope to continue humiliating Tom Lally at pool and I hope to win again at the quiz without the fear of having to write the following quiz! In terms of project aims, I hope the rain stops long enough so that I can complete a number of videos designed to assist incoming students to the project.

Anything you would like to add?

Tom Lally sucks at pool. Joanne Kirton is better than me in every way.

BRP Back at the Castle

Today is the start of the official dig season for the BRP at Bamburgh Castle. During the student induction staff members from the Kaims, Trench 1 and 3 put their  professional rivalries aside and helped Megan clear the enviro tank, clear the tarps from Trench 3 and build a sand-bag wall. However, the harmony was soon spoilt when the Kaimers sneakily decided to filch all the decent hand-shovels (shakes fist!!!!).

Meet the Staff of the BRP 2012: Trench 3

Today we have our next installment from the blog thread covering the hopes of each staff member for the imminent 2012 dig season. To date we have heard from both onsite directors, Graeme and Gerry, the Bradford Kaims staff and Trench 1. Today we will hear from the Staff of Trench 3. Archaeology Supervisor, Jo Kirton (that’s me by the way!) and the assistant supervisor’s, Stephanie Rushe-Chapman and Maria Buczak.

Trench 3 being cleaned and recorded


To see the staff profile from last year click here

This year will be short one for me, as I will be leaving before the season ends as I have a small matter of a PhD to finish. Nevertheless, I have grand plans for my shortened stay. Firstly, I want to see the Hammerscale sampling finished so we can get at the SW corner and lift the probable metal-working building. This will allow us to bring that area of the trench down to the 8-9th century layers that proved so interesting in the adjacent areas last year. My other main aim is to figure out whether the large areas of burning are associated with the ‘porch’ feature, which has been evident for some time. They are positioned on the same alignment, so I suspect they form part of a large timber building with a stone entrance, which burnt down leaving only the burnt-out post holes or beams for us to find.

The stone entrance and area of burning to the south

My other main interest this year is making sure we continue to keep everyone updated through the blog, plus the Twitter and Facebook accounts. I will be handing this over at the end of June and I hope to be able to follow the dig when I am in the office or out in the field. Long live the blog!!!

However, my primary aim for this season is to make sure Joseph Tong does not win the quiz. If I (I say, I but I mean Graeme) can do this then I will leave a happy lady.


Steph came to the BRP  from the States last year and soon made it into the ranks of BRP staff.

Stephanie holding a large cauldron fragment

I am really excited to be returning for my second year with the BRP! I am especially curious to see what new developments will be found in Trench 3. There seems to be so much going on, and I’d like to get a better understanding and a better ‘mental image’ of how the various features within Trench 3 relate to one another. I spent most of last summer taking down the baulk and searching for Brian Hope-Taylor’s large burning area, so I am particularly interested in what new discoveries will be unearthed in this area of Trench 3 and how they will match up with Hope-Taylor’s excavation notes.

On a more personal note, I am looking forward to spending another summer with such a great group of people—to be reuniting with friends and making new ones! I am finally officially finished with my PhD coursework at Missouri (yea!), so I also have a personal goal of doing a little academic reading each day in preparation for my comprehensive exams that will take place this autumn (yuck). But, there will still be plenty of time for fun!

See you all soon!


Maria is a new member of staff this year, having proved her metal at both the Kaims and the castle digs.

Maria sieving for finds at the Kaims

Like everyone else, I can’t wait to get back out to the castle and start digging again this year! I’m really looking forward to seeing what else will come out of Trench 3 – especially after the great results from previous seasons’ hammerscale sampling and, of course, Constance’s amazing gold find! It would also be great to try and test some of the theories people have come up with for this complicated, but very exciting, trench!

The social side of the project also promises to be just as fun as the last two years I have been at Bamburgh! Really can’t wait for the weekly BBQs, multi-weekly pub visits, impromptu football matches and, of course, to see what our amazingly creative forging team will be able to come up with this year!

The dig starts on Monday 4th, so expect a steady stream of blog entries and live tweeting from the trench edge. Hopefully we will have plenty of archaeology and antics to please everyone.