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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Bamburgh Castle so significant?

Bamburgh was the fortress palace of the Anglo-Saxon kings of Northumbria, and has been continuously occupied for over 2000 years. Much of our historical knowledge of Bamburgh in the early medieval era comes from the Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Bamburgh was the seat of the Northumbrian Kings Oswald and Oswy, who are credited with introducing Christianity, permanently to the kingdom. After being left in a ruinous state after a great siege of 1464, Dr John Sharpe, began the its restoration in the later 18th Century. The 1st Lord Armstrong further reconstructed the castle at the end of the 19th century creating the beautiful staterooms and private apartments you see today.

The BRP was founded in 1996 and undertook our first excavation at the Bowl Hole Burial Ground from 1997 to 2007 and has been working within the castle since 2000. This has generated a substantial archaeological archive that is currently being worked on. In the castle we have discovered large and small, domestic and industrial buildings, a probable early medieval chapel and evidence of large scale industrial practices (see the ‘Projects’ and ‘Publications’ tab on the website for more info), all accompanied by thousands of small finds. While uncovering defences of the early palace we have also found evidence for a probable large arched gatehouse.

I haven’t excavated before – Will I be okay to dig with you? Am I too young/old to take part?

Here at Bamburgh, we welcome anyone who has an interest in heritage and archaeology. You must be 18 or older to participate. Each year we have a wide mix of people of all experience levels, and we welcome everyone. In fact the variety in age and life experience of the attendees gives us all a better experience, and we hope everyone leaves us feeling more comfortable about their excavation skills than before.

Do I need to bring my own tools, such as a trowel?

The BRP supplies all the tools and materials you will need to work on the project with the exception of trowels – that archaeologists tend to be very protective of! If you don’t have your own own trowel you can order one from us during the application process. The current price is £16.00.

Can I get credit with my University/College for the work I do at Bamburgh?

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 (if requested) based on their experiences and skills on site. We can liaise with your institution and come up with a program to meet your needs and will attempt to meet all reasonable requests. We will write individual assessments of each student who requires fieldwork appraisals for their university or college. We encourage students to use data from Bamburgh as the basis for continued study, and we will make every effort to assist anyone wishing to take their studies further.

I am particularly interested in learning environmental sampling techniques, artefact recording, and conservation or survey techniques. Can you help me?

Of course! Let us know what you’re most interested in and we will accommodate you where we can. We have a rota system to allow everyone the opportunity to spend time in each department. We do suggest that you spend at least two weeks onsite for this reason, to ensure you get the most out of your time with us.

What should I bring?

Sturdy boots are required on site. You will not be permitted on site without them. We also recommend you bring a change of shoes just in case your boots get wet.

The weather at Bamburgh can change very rapidly, from glorious sunshine to stormy wet weather. We recommend that you bring wet weather, cold weather and warm weather clothes with you. Ideally, bring layers that you can add/take off as needed. Sunglasses, hats, sunscreen etc. are all useful and a  rucksack/bag to bring your lunch and personal items to and from site is recommended.

All work equipment is provided, except for a trowel, so you don’t need to bring anything specific. Trowels are available to purchase for £16.

If you take any regular medication, bring enough for the season. There is a G.P. (Doctor) in Belford, and a pharmacy, but it will be easier if you are prepared for any regular health requirements.

How do I find you? When do I show up? (Field school specific)

Students are in charge of booking their own accommodation. The staff usually stay at Budle Bay Campsite which has a variety of accommodation options. If you have also booked to stay on this campsite here is how you would get to us by public transport:

If you get a train to Berwick-Upon-Tweed, there is a bus service from the train station to Budle Bay Campsite that will drop you off to us. The Arriva website should help you plan your journey to us. Alternatively, the taxi service from Berwick-Upon-Tweed will bring you to us for about £30. Further details and bus times will be emailed to you after you have booked your place for the season.

We suggest you arrive at your accommodation on the Saturday before your booking so you can settle in. The working week begins on a Sunday and will begin with a site induction. It is important that you are available for this on the Sunday morning.

What’s in a normal day? (Field school specific)

A normal day at the Bamburgh Research Project usually starts at about 7:30am. You get up, sort out your cup of tea and breakfast (everyone is responsible for their own meals) and get dressed and ready for the day. You need to organise your own lunch. You can make sandwiches at the campsite, or buy lunch at the castle tearooms.

We head off to the castle at about 8:30 each morning. Once we get to work, we wait for our Supervisors to explain the days aims and objectives, and then get to it! We have a morning tea break at 10:30, lunch at 12:30, afternoon tea at 3pm and we head home at 5pm (this differs a little on a Sunday).

Our lifestyle at camp is quite busy. While you are more than welcome to sit and read a book we are all very sociable! Each week we have a BBQ night, an evening at the local pub and we also run a weekly quiz. Everyone is responsible for their own meals, but we find that sharing your cooking with other participants does make life much easier, and will give you a chance to try a meal that you may not have at home.

Does Budle Bay have easy access to facilities? (Field school specific)

Nearby Belford is easily accessible only a few minutes away by bus. Students will also be shuttled there at least once a week to shop at the Co-operative supermarket (which has a cash point (ATM) within). There are also several pubs in Belford and a fish and chip shop. There is a launderette in Belford. There is a Doctor, Dentist, post office and pharmacy in Belford if needed. We will lilely also arrange a supermarket delivery to the camsite each week.

If you need a bank there is a Barclays in nearby Seahouses, or the larger town of Berwick-upon-Tweed is about 15 miles away.

What’s the weather like at Bamburgh?

Bamburgh and the surrounding area get all kinds of weather. We have been fortunate in recent seasons to have had good weather but as we are in the north of England it is important to be prepared for all eventualities. We suggest you pack layers, as we can get some very hot days and some very cool nights. Being on the North-East coast of England there is always a chance of rain, so some good quality waterproofs are a must.


Please note: we will send you a detailed booklet with lots more info once you have booked your place.


Stephanie, Missouri

Remember that the sun only sets for a few hours each night here. It’s not unusual to get about 4 hours of darkness. It might be easier to sleep in your tent with a small eye mask.

Lauren, New York

Bring your good attitude and sense of humor. Banter in the UK can be very different to jokes in the US, or anywhere else in the world. Bring lots of underwear and socks, too!

Natalie, South Australia

Be prepared for anything. Murphy’s Law comes into play here regularly. The one day you forget to bring your waterproof WILL be the day that it rains heavily.

Jeff, Massachusetts

Expect a different attitude from staff on and off site. We live, work and socialize together and the staff want to instruct you professionally at work, and want to meet some new friends after work. We form very close friendships here, so don’t feel too surprised when we want to know everything about you!

Emily, New Orleans

Bring something nice to wear to pub night. Sometimes after several weeks of dirty dig clothes, it’s nice to take a shower, put on something a little fancy and go out for the evening.