2018 Excavation Dates
17th June – 20th July
Bamburgh Castle is a multi-phase site that offers students the opportunity to gain experience of working with some of the most exceptional archaeological material currently being excavated in the north of England.
We offer quality training in archaeological fieldwork with an emphasis on practical hands-on excavation and post-excavation activities. Our training is open to people of all skill-levels and abilities, with particular interests accommodated where possible. We recommend students attend for at least two weeks to get a well-rounded experience of the training on offer.
Where will I be digging?
Participants will excavating within the walls of Bamburgh Castle in Trench 3. Trench 3 is a multi-period excavation currently reaching early medieval archaeological horizons (7th-10th century, which roughly covers the Anglo-Saxon occupation of the site). Pockets of Roman material have also been recovered in recent seasons.
Who will be teaching me?
Professional field archaeologists and post-graduate students form the core of our training staff. The BRP’s on-site Directors guide the excavation on a daily basis and ensure that the research agenda’s primary aims and objectives, set at the beginning of the season, are fulfilled. The director is supported by a Trench Supervisor, Finds Supervisor and Environmental Supervisor who are responsible for the hands-on tuition students receive each day. Our core teaching staff is supported by Assistant Supervisors and a Public Outreach Officer who will help disseminate the project’s discoveries as they happen.
What will I be learning?
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 (site and single context)
- preparing and undertaking scale drawings of plans and sections (site and single context)
- 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
It isn’t all work at the BRP! There’s a rich and varied social life at the project. We all gather for Quiz Night, an informal contest where you and your team can pit your wits against your friends and the project staff for a chance to win prizes. Every Thursday night is Pub Night, a chance to unwind and share a well-earned drink and/or a packet of crisps after a hard week’s work.
Every year dozens of new students join us from all over the world. Your time with the BRP will offer you the chance to meet new people and make new friends, as well as offering an invaluable networking opportunity to people who would like to pursue a career in archaeology or related fields.
Bamburgh is also situated in an area of astounding natural beauty and in close proximity to many significant sites of historical interest, such as Lindisfarne (the site of the first recorded Viking invasion), Hadrian’s Wall, Durham Cathedral and Alnwick Castle (locations for various scenes from Harry Potter), Edinburgh Castle, plus much, much more. Bamburgh, and your time with the BRP, can be your stepping-off point for a remarkable visit around the North-East of England and southern Scotland.