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Bamburgh Research Project

Location: Newcastle upon Tyne/ Edinburgh UK, Northumberland, United Kingdom

June 2, 2014 to July 26, 2014

Application Deadline: 
Saturday, July 19, 2014

Program Type

Field school


Bamburgh Research Project

Project Director:

Graeme Young FSA, Gerard Twomey MA, Paul Gething, Clare Henderson

Project Description

Bamburgh Field School runs between 1st June to 26th July in 2014. Work starts Monday 2nd June 9a.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. Go to: to make your booking.

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. We also run a media department recording the site and social history of the project and students are encouraged to participate in this. 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 it's 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.

Bradford Kaims Project 

Bradford Kaims project has been running since 2010 and is a project run as part of Bamburgh research Project, with collaborations from the local community and University of Stirling's palaeo-environmentalist Dr. Richard Tipping. The project was supported in 2012 by English Heritage and the National Lottery scheme.

The wetland itself is known as Newham bog, an ancient wetland that formed following the retreat of glaciation 12,000 years ago. Our investigations so far have revealed a promontory reaching out into the bog that has evidence of human activity around the edge of the marshy lake. We have uncovered two massive features that have been interepreted as Burnt mounds. These Bronze age features are fascinating and there are several theories about what function they served, from prehistoric saunas, to smoking meat and fish, and even brewing.

In addition to the mounds there are further cut features including pits, and slab hearths or troughs. Finds from the sites include many Neolithic flints and even an Aurochs bone preserved in the peat. We are hoping we may be able to locate weirs or even jetties in the waterlogged deposits around the lake edge, as excavation progresses. The kaims site offers a completely different digging experience for students, and we are lucky to be working with Dr. Richard Tipping from the University of Stirling, who has joined us to conduct extensive environmental sampling of the wetland landscape, using deep peat cores to chart the landscape changes the the end of glaciation. This is also a very fun activity with immediate results as you can see the changes from clay to marl to peat bands very clearly. With geophysics results showing many more potential early features of human activity, this is a good year to get involved in this expanding part of the project. 


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.


BRP runs its own small integrated media unit that records the site each day on video and through photography. Students are most welcome to learn about and participate in this process. We edit our films on site and produce media for a variety of outputs frm social media platforms to longer documentary productions and archive work, and collaborations with schools. The site has also featured on many TV programmes including 'Time Team' in 2010.


Bamburgh Field School runs between  2nd June to 26th July in 2014. 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 which is available as a booking option on our website.

We run the project as a Field School each summer between June and July, camping at a local campsite.

The project is open to ANYONE - as full training will be provided. For more details please apply online using our website: or email the organisers directly: and

You can also 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

Project size: 
25-49 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: 1 week

Minimum age: 
14 (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 (bring your own tent) and is arranged with a local campsite with full facilities in the village of Belford just 5 miles from Bamburgh castle. The campsite has showers and washrooms, self catering facilities, telephones, internet access. 
Please bring only moderate sized tents as we are restricted to using 2 Man size tents only. If you have a special need for a larger tent you should 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 are camping at Bluebell Farm Camping and Caravan Park at a specially discounted rate. 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.
There are numerous amenities within the village including a variety of take aways and restaurants, pubs, supermarket just across the road, post office, launderette, newsagents and we will have access to the local village club for events and socialising, and this has a games room function hall and bar. Although we do not provide food, there are full cooking facilities available including a fitted kitchen in the staff accommodation which students may use, and a BBQ in a covered veranda which is available daily for your use.  In addition, we will host a weekly BBQ event where all food is provided by us - this usually happens at the beginning of the week. A daily prepared packed lunch is available from the campsite for a modest cost if you don't want to make your own.
Alternatively, there is plenty of accommodation in the local area, from bed and breakfast's to hotels. Leads can be provided for those interested. 

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

Academic Credit

Number of credits offered: none
Tuition is by professional archaeologists


Contact Information
Graeme Young/ Gerard Twomey
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.