The Bamburgh Research Project

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Archaeologists are coming towards the end of their excavation work at Bamburgh Castle and Bradford Kaims, near Lucker.

The team from the Bamburgh Research Project are particularly excited about their finds at the prehistoric wetland site of Bradford Kaims, which they believe signal early industrial activity by our ancestors.

“We have had an extremely productive season,” said project director Paul Gething.

“At the Bradford Kaims wetland project we have continued our excavation of the prehistoric landscape at a steady pace.

“We have begun to identify the limits of the burnt mounds in trench six, our main excavation, and the five mounds cover a very large area and are over half a metre deep in total.

“We have also found the limits of the preserved Neolithic, wooden platform sealing the west of the mounds and it is much bigger than we thought, with fantastic levels of preservation, down to 1.2m deep.

“We have also identified a substantial, Neolithic industrial area incorporating hot stones, wooden troughs and canal coal. Very early Northumbrian industry looks increasingly likely.

“In trench nine we have almost fully excavated another burnt mound and associated working area. Activity on this site spans Mesolithic, through to bronze age. We are recovering flint, pottery and burnt bone fragments. Six thousand years of activity.”

One piece of flint in particular has caused much excitement as it is a fine red colour.

“A very unusual find indeed, and the first such piece from the excavation,” said Mr Gething. “Tracing its origins could prove very enlightening as it may hint at contacts between our site and the wider area.

“The results so far have been very encouraging,” he said. “We found a number of sherds of pottery directly beneath the topsoil, some close enough together that they might even be from the same vessel, within a small pit. At the moment we think that they date from the Bronze Age, but confirmation of this will come from specialist analysis.”

At Bamburgh, a bulky iron buckle was found along with the usual artefacts of animal bone, shell, and charcoal.

Personal items such as this are a rarity and there has been quite a bit of excitement surrounding its discovery. It has been dated as early medieval due to its context and association with Anglo Saxon pottery found nearby.

At a hefty 85 grams and measuring 7x6 centimetres, this isn’t a delicate fastening, but a seriously sturdy buckle that might have been worn in conjunction with vocational clothing.

Though it is possible that the iron corrosion hides some ornamental elements, at this time the buckle appears to be unadorned or missing its decorative portion. Because it’s fashioned from iron rather than a more precious metal it’s likely the buckle was utilitarian in nature and not a part of a high status wardrobe

“Even if it didn’t belong to King Oswald, this latest find from Trench 3 is a very interesting artefact and we’re looking forward to seeing what additional finds are recovered from this area,” he said.

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