Bamburgh Research Project

Location: Bamburgh, Northumberland, United Kingdom

June 17, 2018 to July 20, 2018

Session dates: 
Stay anywhere from 1 to 5 weeks. 2 week minimum recommended. Week 1: June 17th- June 23rd Week 2: June 24th- June 30th Week 3: July 1st- July 7th Week 4: July 8th- July 14th Week 5: July 15th- July 20th

Application Deadline: 
Friday, July 13, 2018

Deadline Type: 

Program Type

Field school

RPA certified



Bamburgh Research Project

Project Director:

Graeme Young B.Sc.

Project Description

Bamburgh Field School runs between the 17th of June and the 20th of July in 2018. Work starts Sunday the 17th of June. Apply via our website! Price £275.00 per week if paying by cash or cheque (advance payment necessary) or + 5% 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]

Archaeological Research

Bamburgh Research Project has been excavating at Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland, UK since 1996. The castle is one of the most stunning locations in the UK, with an extensive archaeological legacy. In its heyday Bamburgh was the principal Palace-fortress of the early medieval Kings of Northumbria a role for which it has become increasingly famous in recent years through Bernard Cornwell’s Uhtred books and TV series.

The excavations are set within the castle walls in the West Ward, where we are excavating through four metres of stratified deposits that are the result of occupation on the site from at least the Iron Age. Our excavations are currently at c. 8th - 9th century levels, a time often called the golden age of the Kingdom of Northumbria. We have revealed a complex occupation sequence with evidence of large and small buildings and workshops. The extensive cultural material recovered each year suggests we are in an industrial area involved in high status metalworking, producing arms and armour for the royal court.



Students are given the option of booking our combined Excavation and Post-Excavation programme or our Post Excavation only programme.

Students working in the trench will receive tuition in excavation techniques, such as trowelling delicate contexts, defining and excavating cut features and undertaking sampling deposits. As you excavate we will also teach you the fundamentals of recording what you find. This can include:

  • undertaking archaeological photography 
  • preparing and undertaking scale drawings of plans and sections 
  • survey techniques, such as setting out the site grid and measuring surface levels using a dumpy level. A total station will also be in operation at certain times throughout the season but is not guaranteed.
  • contribution towards the various paper records that allow archaeologists to describe what they see and combine all the data they gather into one coherent record.

All those excavating will also be taught how to record archaeological finds as they are unearthed in the trench and will have the chance to undertake the post-excavation activities outlined below.

Our post-excavation tuition covers a variety of areas, as we have an active on-site finds department situated in the 18th century windmill overlooking the trench and a environmental processing area trench-side. Participants will have the opportunity to:

  • undertake environmental sampling techniques
  • wet-sieving and sorting residues and flots (search for 'environmental' on our blog to see lots of info about this element of the project)
  • clean and sort bulk materials such as animal bone and small finds, such as metalwork and worked bone.
  • prep finds for long-term storage
  • undertake cataloging, including database and archive management
  • together this will aid in developing your identification and assessment techniques for a variety of material assemblages

Period(s) of Occupation: Anglo Saxon and Medieval from 8th to 9th century currently.

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!

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

Accommodation must be booked separately. There are many options for accommodation in the area to suit every budget and we are happy to offer suggestions. However, we do encourage all participants to stay in close proximity to BRP staff, as this allows staff and students the opportunity to get to know one another in a social setting and there are friendly faces around should you need a helping hand. This year our staff will be staying at Budle Bay Campsite. Transportation to site will be offered from Budle Bay Campsite.

£275 per week if paying by cash or cheque otherwise + 5% via Pay Pal

Academic Credit

Number of credits offered 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. 


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.