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


BRP Office Phone: 01668214897


Flint blade found in Trench 6.


Young Archaeologist Club winners visit the Kaims


Excavating the burnt mound in trench 6

The Bamburgh Research Project was happy to host the winners of the Young Archaeologists Club at our Bradford Kaims Wetland Site this last Saturday. The winners were William Allis, Elizabeth Allis, Kitty Underwood, and Rosie Underwood. We had a blast showing them around the Kaims and teaching them about prehistory and burnt mounds. We can’t wait to have more visitors from YAC next year!


Trench 6 supervisor Tom Gardner with the YAC winners

Elizabeth Allis (11 years old), wrote about her day at the Kaims:

“My brother and I had a great time digging at Bradford Kaims with the team of archaeologists. I really liked the long wooden platform that had been discovered, especially as it is the only one in the country! There was a strange wooden object near the middle of the platform, it had a sort of handle and three holes in one end. No-one knows what it is yet, I think it’s something that prehistoric people made and buried to confuse archaeologists later on. We did some troweling in trench six with Tom and found some charcoal, we put it in sample bags and labelled them. Cole showed us some of the finds like flint arrowheads and a prehistoric giant cow tooth. It was called an auroch. We were given t-shirts with an auroch skeleton on. I learnt a lot and the day was really fun. Thank you YAC, Paul and the rest of the BRP team.”


Introduction to trench 6.


Making simple rope from the sedges that grow near the site.

HLF Logo


Volunteers Editing Video of the Kaims

This article was kindly written by volunteer Ruth Brewis, who took part in the video editing of footage from the Bradford Kaims Wetland Heritage Research Project. The Project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage.

We’d be delighted if more volunteers expressed an interest in doing some video editing – if you want to have a go at this please get in touch with me,

It will be possible to arrange one to one sessions or small groups if anyone wants to participate in this, and you do not have to have been a volunteer previously – this is open to all, and it may be possible to do this in your local area – I am prepared to travel with the footage and equipment!

Ruth writes:

Stress, Stress, Stress……

Video Editing…terrifying! Thought I was going to lose all the footage and there was so much of it! A somewhat daunting task and not an aspect I was expecting to be involved in when I signed up as a volunteer for the Bradford Kaims Heritage Wetlands Project, but the opportunity presented itself.

The BRP Editing Laptop!

Editing a small video can take days of patiently sifting through footage, re-watching the same clips over again and re-editing, playing it through many times, searching for a beginning and an ending, deciding if a picture should be static or not, which looks better??

Not as straight forward as I thought it would be!

Under Gerry’s guidance I was able to select snippets of video and assemble them to form a workable version with a storyline that would make sense to anyone viewing the video, at the same time trying to produce something that would be interesting, showing the process of coring done at the Kaims by Richard Tipping, BRP Staff and the volunteers. Looking back at the footage it was hard to decide how much to include in the video, for me it is all interesting and something that was completely new to me, so I wanted to include everything.

I came to the project expecting to learn about archaeology and was happy with that but I got the chance to try video editing, and really enjoyed the experience and I thought it would be good to see how Gerry puts together video’s for Bamburgh Research Project and as I like taking photographs when I’m on site, it was an extension of my interest in photography.

This is Ruth’s completed video which was first uploaded during the summer.

New Field Work Dates for the Bradford Kaims Project

Three new dates have been set for field work out at our prehistoric wetland. The dates are Wednesday 17th October with follow up sessions on Wednesday 24th and 31st October.

Volunteers coring for soil samples at the site.

We plan to do some survey and return to the excavations of Trench 6, to try to get as much done as we can before the winter sets in. There may also be opportunities for field-walking depending on the availability of harvested fields, and as always there is the chance to do some filming.

Please come along if you can, dressed for weather, and wellies are recommended. As usual, no experience is necessary!

A somewhat better photo of the Bradford Kaims arrowhead with a scale.

If you would like to volunteer please send an email to Graeme Young at or call him on 07711187651.
We very much hope to see you there!
If you are unfamiliar with the project please click here for more information. To look at our most recent video overview of the project please click here. You can also click on the ‘bradford kaims‘ tag to the right of the screen to see all the blog posts relating to the site.

Video Update – Peat Cores

Bradford Kaims Update – Coring with Richard Tipping from the University of Stirling

This video was created by volunteer, Ruth, who has been participating in the excavations and coring all year. Her film shows the processes of coring and how this work fits into the overall understanding of the ancient landscape changes. We’re very grateful to Ruth for sifting through the hours of footage to make this summary!

Join us at the BRP this Summer

Due to late cancellations there are now spaces for volunteers to sign up for excavation at Bamburgh Castle. The season is running until the 29th July 2012 and whether you are available for 1 week or the entire season everyone is welcome and encouraged to join us. Here are some statements from current students at the project:

‘Missing’ Dave – Hampshire.

“I couldn’t have been happier with my experience here. The atmosphere on the project is friendly and you’re made to feel welcome straight away by students and supervisors. The working day is the best possible environment to learn new skills. The supervision is direct and they’re always looking to help so you never feel scared about asking questions or letting them know what you think. The evenings are a perfect way to end the day whether it’s the quiz night or a trip to the pub you feel like you’re part of a family!”

Student of the week, Dave.

Eva – Brisbane, Australia

“I have really enjoyed my experience here. At the beginning of the season it was a fresh start for all the students; none of us knew each other and many of us are from other countries. We have all become good friends and are constantly comparing the differences between various things in our different countries. There have been many very amusing moments when an international like me has used the wrong term and made everyone laugh. I’ve learnt not to call trousers ‘pants’ or football ‘soccer’. BRP is a great learning atmosphere, I have learnt a lot about excavation, handling and sorting finds. The staff and directors all join in the fun of the evenings. Pub night and quiz nights are a great way to relax and get to know each other over a drink.”

Eva hard at work on our MASSIVE wall.

Bronwyn – Kaslo, Canada

“My experience with the Bamburgh Research Project is everything I expected and more. Coming from a small town from across the ocean, I have had no previous archaeological experience and in the short time I have spent with the BRP crew I have learnt a vast amount and continue to each day. Many of the students come from all over the world with varied educational backgrounds and a lot of the time we are learning from each other. With us all thrown together we have become a tight knit group that does everything together. From the moment I arrived on the campsite I was welcomed by the supervisors and directors of the project and very quickly everyone becomes close. Between the excavations during the day time, pub night, quiz night and trips into Seahouses there is never a dull moment. My favourite times here are when everyone is huddled close to keep warm or out of the rain, telling stories or just in general conversation at the campsite nestled in the English countryside with the Bamburgh Castle a beacon on the horizon.

Bromwyn and a scary scarecrow

Bamburgh Research Project is open to people aged 12 and over (under 16’s must be accompanied by a parent or guardian) and we welcome all experience levels, from newcomers to the subject through to professionals. We aim to accommodate special needs or requests where possible.

Children under 16 MUST be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

New Dates for Volunteering

We continue to conduct excavation and coring out at Hoppen Hall, near the Bradford Kaims. This work explores a prehistoric lake edge with archaeological features dated to at least 4500 BC. We welcome volunteers on this project. If you would like to learn more about this project click here. To see the blog reports to date click on the bradford kaims in the tag cloud to the right of the screen.

The next fieldworking days will be Tuesday 10th (with possible further days this week depending on demand)Wednesday 18th, Saturday 21st (a possible seminar day TBC), Monday 23rd and Friday 27th of April. There will also be a specialist weekend – 17th to 20th of May – with Palaeo-environmentalist Richard Tipping and Geophysics team GSB.

Please come along if you can, dressed for weather and wellies are recommended. As usual no experience is necessary, and it should be fun as we will be undertaking a number of activities including, excavation, recording and coring. If you would like to volunteer please send an email to Graeme Young at or call him on 07711187651 as we will be limited to around 20 volunteer places per day.  We very much hope to see you there!

Getting There

The site is located at Hoppen Hall Farm – to get there you will need to take the B1341 between the A1 and Bamburgh.  Heading towards Bamburgh, you pass over the main rail line level crossing just past Lucker, then take the first right hand turn along a rough track heading up hill towards Hoppen Hall farm and cottages.  The site is accessible only by prior arrangement, and there are holiday lets near the area we will be parking as well as the main farm house so we ask that all participants show due care and respect the privacy of the residents and guests.  We will park and gather together by the main farm buildings, then walk through the fields for around ten minutes to access the wetland site.

Below are a number of photographs taken recently by one of our volunteers, Ruth Brewis.

Coring in the trench extension

New test trenches

Planning features for the site record

Gerry filming volunteers cleaning the trench

Cleaning the trench

Bradford Kaims Update and Video Overview of the Project

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.

Graeme’s Report

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.

BRP students and their own projects

Today we take a look at one of our international students, Nicolas Minivielle, who worked with the BRP in 2010. Nicolas came to us from France, as an experienced archaeologist, with the intention of gaining some insight into how British excavation was undertaken.

He is now involved in two projects in the south-east of France. One of which explores silver mining during the 11-14th centuries. The project has identified several stone structures dating to the 11-12th centuries and will be focusing on excavating this probable industrial area. The project runs from June 4th-31st 2012 and they are currently looking for volunteers.

Unidentified Structure

Crushing workshop

The other site that Nicolas is involved with is a medieval mining village in Brandes, south-east France. The village and its associated mines have been extensively explored. The 2012 season will investigate part of the industrial area for processing ore. This project runs from July 16th -August 31st.

Aerial view of the village of Brandes.

Nicolas is keen to foster links with other countries and sees this project as a way for foreign students to build international networks and gain experience of different types of archaeology, plus archaeological techniques and practice. If anyone is interested in this project please follow the link for more information or email Nicolas directly at