Project Director, Graeme Young, brings us up to date on the work and the involvement of volunteers at our prehistoric wetland site out at the Bradford Kaims, west of Bamburgh Castle.
In the last couple of visits to the site at Hopenwood Bank, near the Bradford Kaims, we have been trying to improve our understanding of the sequence of events that go together to make-up this rather enigmatic site. At the moment, having cleaned and examined the old sections, I now think that we have two layers sealing the fired stone feature. These are in turn covered over by the soil profile that extends up to the present turf line.
Of the two layers that cover the stone ‘hearth’ the most interesting is the dark layer that contains huge amounts of charcoal and fractured stone and that directly overlies the hearth.
The ‘hearth’ feature freshly unearthed in 2010
It is tempting to assume that it represents, at least in part, the charcoal and ash from fires that once burned on the hearth, but the truth is we have no evidence for the date of this layer and indeed the way in which it buries the hearth, putting it beyond any effective use, could well indicate that it is a later event. All we can really say is that it is very unlikely to be modern, as we would have expected to have found some trace of pottery or clay pipe by now if it was. I suspect we will have to wait till we have a carbon 14 date to resolve this.
The pit feature, located close to the east side of the hearth, which we cleaned last time has been half sectioned and recorded in the last two visits.
The pit being excavated and recorded
The section of the excavated pit, facing north. The feature may represent a double post-hole.
It is quite a substantial feature surviving to a depth of 0.25m, but is likely to have been somewhat eroded so was likely deeper. It has a rather dumbbell shape, which makes me wonder if we could have a double post-hole, or a post that was re-set. We will have to keep our eyes open and see if we can find more of these features. Could we for instance, have a structure of some kind around the hearth?
As well as working on the main site we have been cleaning and investigating the narrow trench excavated as an extension to the west, into the area of the lake margin. We had previously identified the top of the peat horizon, and this has made it clear just how close the main site lay to the lake edge. We have now started to use coring to further explore the relationship of the wetland deposits to the dry land to its east.
Coring within the trench extension, the main excavation area in the background.
The first two cores were located at the western end of the narrow trench working from the deeper deposits back to the dry land. We are using a 2m interval between the cores. This has already been informative as we have seen a substantial shallowing of the layers of peat and sediment we encountered in the two cores, even over this short difference.
A detail of the second core, showing something of a slope in the sediment and peat layer. This might be indicative of rather steeply sided lake edge.
This suggests the edge of the lake is quite a steep bank! More coring next Saturday should help us confirm this.
Below is video taken from our Winter Lecture Series, which briefly outlines the volunteering opportunities with this project.
More volunteering dates to follow and a sample of the photographs taken by volunteers.