Location: Bamburgh, Northumberland, United Kingdom
Bamburgh Field School runs between the 8th June and the 1st of August in 2015. Work starts Monday 8th June 9 a.m. Apply via our website! Price £250.00 per week if paying by cash or cheque (advance payment necessary) or + 4% if you wish to pay via PayPal.
The project is open to ANYONE - as full training will be provided. Students book using the online booking form on the ‘Field School’ section of our website or email the project director or coordinator:
For year round updates please go to our blog: http://bamburghresearchproject.wordpress.com/ [full details of last season on there if you look back through posts]
Bamburgh Research Project runs a summer field school at Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland, UK, and at a concurrent excavation of Bradford Kaims wetlands, nearby. Participants get to excavate on both sites, experiencing the very different styles of excavation and investiagtion that each site demands. If you wish to spend your time at just one of our sites, this is normally possible.
Bamburgh was the capital of Saxon Northumbria and has been continuously occupied for well over 3,000 years, it is one of the most impressive and important archaeological sites in North East England with excellent preservation and over 4 metres of stratified deposits. The field school is open to all students and volunteers. We provide training in all aspects of practical fieldwork techniques including excavation, drawing, photography, site recording, survey, post excavation analysis, databasing, sampling and environmental processing, artefact recognition and processing, and site interpretation. The site is run by professional field archaeologists who will work directly with participants in the trenches. Evening lectures and site tours are provided in addition to the training in the trenches. There is also a healthy social life off site. For more info and to apply online go to our website.
We do not provide specific accreditation, as we are not affiliated to any one university; however, we assess all participants individually and provide a report based on their experiences and skills on site. If you want the BRP to liase with your university to compile a report of your work here, then we are happy to do so, and will meet all reasonable requests.
Bamburgh Research Project has been excavating at Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland, UK since 1996. The present castle is one of the most stunning locations in the UK, with an extensive archaeological legacy. The excavations are set within the castle walls in the West Ward, and we are excavating through 4 metres of stratified deposits that are the result of occupation on the site from as early as the Neolithic (and likely Mesolithic).
The castle in its heyday was the principal Anglo Saxon Palace and fortress of the Kings of Northumbria. Our major excavations take place in the west ward of the castle in two trenches that are currently at c. 8th - 9th century and 9th to 10th century levels respectively. The archaeology in the trenches is similar to deeply stratified urban excavations, with complex multiple phase occupation, intercutting features and layers, and a large amount of varied cultural material being recovered each season. We have uncovered the remains of large and small buildings, workshops, pathways and evidence of large scale industrial practices including high status metalworking and the use of a mortar mixer to construct stone buildings. We are uncovering the early defences and entrance to the palace site which we now believe may have been dominated by a large arched gatehouse. The site is constantly changing and becoming increasingly interesting as we reveal the Anglo Saxon fortress at the height of it's power and influence. There is no site like it currently under excavation. The excavations have recently produced a large hoard of Anglo Saxon coins, known as Styccas, a great deal of assorted metalwork including gold mounts and horse harness fittings, spokeshaves, knives, Seaxes, a shield boss, chainmail and evidence of intense metalworking on site, in addition to other craft activities such as weaving, working bone and leather. We have even revealed a 'gin gang' mortar mixer, and evidence of stone built buildings and timber structures. The castle at this period was a very busy place and the archaeology reflects it, with complex deep stratigraphy and large numbers of finds from all periods, including Roman material brought up from lower levels by large medieval pits.
All participants will get to experience hands on training and excavation on both sites. Our training programme is informal, but we recommend students attend for at least two weeks to get a well rounded experience of the different sites and training on offer. Professional field archaeologists form the core of our training staff. The BRP's on-site Directors are the key members of this core team and are present throughout the excavation season. Each area of excavation will also have a Supervisor and Assistant Supervisor who are responsible for the hands on tuition students receive each day. Students receive tuition in excavation techniques, archaeological recording, finds processing cataloguing and illustration, environmental sampling and wet seiving, processing of flots, peat coring, post excavation issues and health and safety, survey using EDM and dumpy levels and for those who wish to, we encourage participation in the media recording and output of the project using video and social media.
You can find us through the following links:
our website: www.bamburghresearchproject.co.uk
YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/bamburghmedia
Twitter @ http://twitter.com/brparchaeology
Period(s) of Occupation: Primarily Anglo Saxon and Medieval at Bamburgh Castle from 8th to 9th, and 9th to 10th centuries currently, and our excavation at the kaims has Medieval features and two likely Bronze Age sites, with Neolithic and very likely Mesolithic activity in the vicinity
Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 1 week
Room and Board Arrangements
Camping accommodation is included in the fees and is located at Bluebell Farm Camping and Caravan Park. They have full facilities in the village of Belford just 5 miles from Bamburgh Castle. The campsite has a toilet block with showers, washbasins & WCs, self catering cottages, free wireless internet access, and secure storage. A service wash arrangement is available at an additional charge on-site, or you can use the public laundrette at the end of the campsite driveway.
Please bring your own tent. Tent size is restricted to a 2-man tent per person. If you are going to share, you may bring a larger tent up to a 4-man size, but large family/compartment tents are not permitted. If you have a special need for a larger tent please contact us directly.
Storage space will be available, so if you have lots of baggage we should be able to store it for you. If you are coming from overseas we may be able to purchase a tent on your behalf or take delivery of one you order online.
We do not provide food but there are full cooking facilities available including a modest kitchen in the staff accommodation which students may use, and a BBQ beside a covered veranda which is available daily for your use as well as additional BBQ facilities throughout the camping area. We will host a weekly BBQ. We provide the fire, you bring whatever you want to throw on – this usually happens at the beginning of the week to help new students settle in. A daily prepared packed lunch is available from the campsite for a modest cost if you don’t want to make your own, which you should order in advance at the campsite reception.
There are numerous amenities within the village. Food outlets include take aways/restaurant/bar meals; there are three pubs, a golf club, community club, coffee shop, farm shop, and resource centre. The local shops include a post office, launderette, newsagents and small licensed supermarket, open 07.00 to 22.00 daily. There is a Doctor's surgery, dental surgery and chemist within the village. We will also have daily access to the local village club for events and socialising, and this has a games room, function hall and bar. They plan to host weekly events such as discos and karaoke for our benefit, and we will be able to have our weekly quiz and lectures there.
We are camping at Bluebell Farm Camping and Caravan Park. This is where you need to get to when you arrive at the project. This campsite is situated in the historic village of Belford, easily accessible by car or bus from the main A1 trunk road between Newcastle and Edinburgh. Buses run regularly from the mainline train station at Berwick upon Tweed about 15 miles to the north. The campsite address is: Bluebell Farm, West Street, Belford, Northumberland, NE70 7QE Tel: 01668 213362 www.bluebellfarmbelford.com
There are many different kinds of alternate accommodation in the local area, including other campsites, caravan sites, bed and breakfasts, hotels and self catering holiday cottages. There are even static caravans and holiday cottages available though Bluebell farm in Belford where we are staying. You need to contact them directly to book. A list of such places is located at the bottom of our Accommodation page.
An important part of any dig is the social side, getting to know new people from all over the world who have a common interest in archaeology. Our aim is that the experience of Bamburgh Research Project is both educational and highly enjoyable for all participants. All of our social events are open to all participants regardless of whether or not you choose to camp with us, but unfortunately we cannot normally offer transport between the campsite and private accommodations. Luckily, Belford is well positioned on bus routes and there are local taxi firms.
Academic CreditNumber of credits offered: none
Sarah Groves, Philip Wood, Graeme Young, The Bowl Hole Early Medieval Cemetery at Bamburgh, Excavations 1998-99, Archaeologia Aeliana Fifth Series, Volume XXXVIII, MMIX, Newcastle upon Tyne
B. Hope-Taylor, Yeavering: An Anglo-British Centre in Early Northumbria (London, 1977)
L. Barker, P. H. Howard, K. Strutt, P. N. Wood and G. L. Young, ‘The Bamburgh Castle research project’,Univ. Durham Univ. Newcastle upon Tyne Archaeol. Rep. (1997)
J. Grundy, S. Lindley, G. McCrombie, P. Ryder, H. Welfare and N. Pevsner, The Buildings of England:Northumberland (London, 1992), 156–7
C. J. Stranks, ‘The charities of Nathaniel, Lord Crewe and Dr John Sharp 1721–1976’, Durham Cathedral Lecture (1976), 6–17
C. J. Bates, Bamburgh Castle, Its History and Architecture (Newcastle upon Tyne, 1894), 11–36
Bamburgh is mentioned several times by Bede in connection with the 7th-century kings Oswald and Oswiu, and is described as the ‘urbs regia’ (royal fortress/city): Ecclesiastical History of the English People, ed. and trans.B. Colgrave and R. A. B. Mynors (Oxford, 1969), 230, 252 and 262
Dr Brian Hope-Taylor carried out two seasons of excavations in and around Bamburgh Castle in 1960 and 1961: B. Hope-Taylor, ‘Bamburgh’, Univ. Durham Gaz., viii no. 2 (1960), 11–12; idem, ‘Excavation Committee’, Univ. Durham Gaz., ix no. 4 (1962), 5–7. His 1970s excavations remain unpublished. His written archive from both his English and Scottish excavations, is together with some artefacts, currently at the RCHMS in Edinburgh. The remainder of the finds from his 1970s excavations at Bamburgh are at Bamburgh Castle.