Students cross the pond to discover Bamburgh history

excavations at Bamburgh Castle

excavations at Bamburgh Castle

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A group of historians from America are set to arrive in Northumberland to explore Bamburgh’s Dark Ages.

Ten students from the Washington-based Catholic University of America (CUA) are due to arrive in Bamburgh this weekend, where they will be undertaking the excavation of some of the best preserved Anglo-Saxon and Viking period archaeology in the country.

The exceptional archaeology that has been uncovered at Bamburgh Castle since the sixties, first by Dr Brian Hope-Taylor and later by the Bamburgh Research Project, caught the eye of Associate Professor Lilla Kopár, an art-historian and archaeologist working at CUA.

Her students are currently working on projects focusing on the period of history commonly referred to as the ‘Dark Ages’ - a period populated by Anglo-Saxons and Vikings. It was also a particularly special period for the North East of England, as it gave rise to a period known as the ‘Golden Age of Northumbria’.

Dr Kopár decided the only way to truly convey Northumbria’s amazing history, was to bring her post graduate students across the pond and let them experience it first-hand.

“Dr Kopár felt that the chance to dig through layers dating to the same period of history as some of Northumbria’s most important individuals, such as the Venerable Bede, St Cuthbert and St Aidan, was an opportunity not to be missed,” explained Joanne Kirton, senior supervisor with the Bamburgh Research Project.

The site itself is a microcosm of early Northumbrian history with evidence of day-to-day living in the form food preparation and consumption, manufacturing and recycling. There is also evidence of warfare, as defensive structures, weapons and armour have been unearthed.

To the south of the castle there is a large Anglo-Saxon cemetery that likely served the castle’s inhabitants.

Recent discoveries, which the students will be working on, include a metalworking building and a large timbered hall.

The students will also be documenting the most important finds from the last few years, including locally produced Northumbrian styca coins, gold filigree mounts with close parallels to the Staffordshire hoard discovered in 2009, and a medieval belt buckle shaped like the Percy lion - the emblem of the Duke of Northumberland.

The Bamburgh Research Project in conjunction with Bamburgh Castle will be hosting Dr Kopár and ten of her students from the May 17-23.

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