Bamburgh Research Project

Location: Bamburgh, Northumberland, United Kingdom

June 6, 2016 to July 30, 2016

Session dates: 
Stay anywhere from 1 to 8 weeks. 2 week minimum recommended.

Application Deadline: 
Sunday, July 24, 2016

Deadline Type: 

Program Type

Field school



Bamburgh Research Project

Project Director:

Graeme Young B.Sc. Paul Gething B.Sc.

Project Description

Bamburgh Field School runs between the 6th of June and the 30th of July in 2016. Work starts Monday 6th 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:  [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. 

Archaeological Research

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:


YouTube channel:

Twitter @ 

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

Our annual field school provides comprehensive training in archaeological excavation and post excavation skills, and the training is conducted by professional field archaeologists and researchers. 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 excavations are now increasingly exciting, as we are approaching the 9th Century levels relating to the castle's heyday as a principal Anglo Saxon Palace and fortress of the Kings of Northumbria. And it has a great beach! In addition we now have a new site that students can excavate at as well as the castle. This is very different: it is a prehistoric wetland that dates back to the end of glaciation around 12,000 year ago. The sites we have currently discovered are likely Bronze Age or late Neolithic in date. We have exposed two 'burnt mound' features and have located several potential further occupation features through geophysics on a promontory of land sticking out into the bog. We will be extending our excavations here this year. We are also mapping the wetland using peat coring techniques in collaboration with palaeo-environmental specialist Dr Richard Tipping from the University of Stirling. So we'd love you to join us at Bamburgh to learn a lot and have a good time with like minded people and some brilliant archaeology! For the latest updates check out our website and our blog or see our videos on youtube:

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 1 week

Minimum age: 
12 (must be accompanied if under 16)

Experience required: 
No experience necessary as all training provided

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.

Village Amenities:

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.

Campsite Details:

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

Alternate Accomodation:

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.

£250 per week if paying by cash or cheque otherwise + 4% via Pay Pal

Academic Credit

Number of credits offered We offer to write a detailed Student Assessment for our those seeking credit through their University. Credit is not automatic. You must discuss with your University and then inform our staff on your arrival day if you will require an assessment.
Professional field archaeologists and post-graduate students form the core of our training staff. The BRP’s on-site Directors are the key members of this 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, from trowelling delicate deposits, defining and excavating cut features, sampling deposits, to de-turfing, mattocking and shovelling test pits. We explain the fundamentals of archaeological recording, and show students how to fill out context sheets and registers. We teach scale drawing of site plans and sections. Site photography is another part of this recording tuition. We also teach survey techniques, using the dumpy level, setting out grids and 3D recording of finds and grid points. Environmental coring survey is conducted by our staff and project participants under the overall direction of Richard Tipping, of Stirling University. Our post-excavation tuition includes environmental sampling techniques, wet -sieving and sorting residues and flots. Sampling and care of waterlogged materials will also be taught. We have an active finds department, and participants will help with the post-excavation processing of all finds, from bulk materials to small finds. They will learn to use the small finds register, learn to recognise different materials and objects and how to process them for storage. Database and archive management is another part of this process. Participants will be inducted to each site with a health and safety discussion and given a tour of the site and the finds department prior to commencing excavation. Participants can also get involved with our outreach department, filming the site or create entries for our blog and social media output. Research opportunities available for Undergraduate dissertations and Post-Graduate research.


Contact Information
Graeme Young
23 Kingsdale Avenue
NE69 7DF
Recommended Bibliography: 

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.