About the Bamburgh Research Project
The Bamburgh Research Project (BRP) is an independent, non-profit archaeological project investigating Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland, one of the most important archaeological sites currently under excavation in northern England. Since 1996 we have been working to uncover the history of this fascinating castle and its environs, from prehistory to the present day. We aim, through our work, to bring the past to life for everyone.
Our Research Focus
Bamburgh Castle: St Oswald’s Gate
Our current area of excavation is St Oswald’s Gate and the outworks beyond. The gate and outworks connect Bamburgh the fortress to Bamburgh Village, and to the wider landscape and seascape beyond. The low lying natural cleft in the bedrock was the entrance to the site from prehistory and has some of the least altered medieval structures available to be investigated today. Our current excavation is exploring a medieval tower with a reputed well at its base, which could possibly date to the early medieval period.
In early 2023 the BRP were awarded funding from the Castle Studies Trust to expand our exploration of the outworks. We will undertaking non-invasive exploration of the area to provide greater contextualisation to our current excavation through geophysical survey and a new masonry survey, including the creation of a 3D model using photogrammetry.
Bamburgh Castle: West Ward
The West Ward gives us a glimpse into the industrial heart of the Anglo Saxon fortress. The stratigraphy is complex and deep with multiple phases of buildings and industry of all kinds, from high status metalworking, to blacksmithing, and even making mortar for stone buildings. There are cobbled paths and metalled walkways leading to a possible smithy and grand timber halls that span the width of the trenches. This is archaeology to challenge and delight in equal measure.
Bamburgh Castle: Inner Ward
The Inner Ward of Bamburgh Castle lies at the heart of the Castle complex. Early mention by Bede notes the presence of a chapel and well. Excavation conducted by the Bamburgh Research Project, between 2004 and 2008, has demonstrated multi-phase activity on the site of the current chapel. Evidence includes early medieval stone-built structures and the butchery of animals in the Roman period.
Bradford Kaims Wetland Heritage Project
The BRP investigated a truly remarkable ancient wetland site, located just a few mile from Bamburgh, near the village of Lucker. Over seven years of excavation and survey we identified a rich suite of archaeology, mostly dating from the Mesolithic to the Iron Age. This has encompassed Mesolithic flint tool scatters, Neolithic working surfaces and erosion of soils, Bronze Age burnt mounds and timber platforms, and Iron Age settlements.
The Bowl Hole: an Early Medieval Cemetery
The Bowl Hole is an early medieval cemetery site just 300m to the south of Bamburgh Castle. It is thought to be the burial ground for the royal court of the Northumbrian palace that lies beneath the present castle. The excavation of the site was undertaken by the Bamburgh Research Project (BRP) between 1998 and 2007. The results of the excavation are now featured in a local exhibition ‘Bamburgh Bones’.
Our Training Opportunities
Bamburgh Castle is a multi-phase site that offers participants 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.
In the summer we run a field school. Participants working in the trench will receive tuition in excavation techniques such as trowelling delicate contexts, defining and excavating cut features and sampling deposits. As you excavate we will also teach you the fundamentals of recording what you find.
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 a variety of post-excavation activities.
In the summer of 2023 we ran our annual Archaeological Field Project at the castle. We are also running a post-excavation taster week in September 2023 that will use the BRP’s extensive archive, which consists of material from the prehistoric to the medieval periods, as the basis for an introduction to the different post-excavation techniques and research methodologies employed by the project (dates to be announced for both).