Latest news from Border Archaeological Society

The Border Archaeological Society's May lecture was by Paul Gething, project manager of Bradford Kaims Wetland Heritage Project.

Saturday, 10th June 2017, 09:00 am

Started in 2010, this project is part of the Bamburgh Research Project, which was founded in 1996 and concentrates on the archaeology of Bamburgh Castle.

Bradford Kaims is situated near Lucker, in a very different type of landscape than the rocky outcrop on which the castle is placed.

This area is low lying and very wet – in fact it is often under water.

The Bradford Kaims project is community-based. It is not only concerned with discovering the past and bringing it to life, but also with education and the training of young archaeologists.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

At present there are about five or six sites, looking from Medieval times back to the Mesolithic.

Starting in 2010, numerous test pits were dug at random. Out of some 86 pits, three revealed archaeology.

One showed bands of black between mineralised peat or charcoal. There were some 14m of peat, representing more than 2000 years of build-up.

Investigators found evidence of prehistoric presence, such as burnt charcoal and the occasional flint, going as far back as 4200BC.

Interconnecting mounds suggest there is a Neolithic landscape underneath the Bronze Age mineralised soil that used to be peat.

All was submerged during the high water of 2012.

One trough revealed post holes from the Bronze Age, but experts were unsure what it was used for. Paul described it as looking like huge bellows.

After the flood, archaeologists were able to remove a medieval threshing floor and found mounds that were very difficult to interpret.

There was something looking like a paddle, which may have been made for moving rocks, but again, this is just conjecture.

The 2015-16 season saw more work done as drainage hit three troughs and opened up the site in all directions.

Investigators started looking at the depth of stratified wood deposits, which go down 7m. The water-logged wood was put here by humans, but we don’t know why.

Five-inch cores have shown that the top is from the Bronze Age, the middle from the Neolithic, and the bottom Mesolithic. Most of the wood has been worked and a hollowed-out oak has been found.

Researchers from all over the world have been involved and come up with theories, but in truth, nothing is known for certain.

Lately, Paul Gething has been doing various reconstruction experiments. A lot of community volunteers have been involved in this, trying to accomplish things using various technologies.

Microscopic investigations have found phytolite fossils and deeply stratified wood and coal, showing that coal was being burnt as well as wood, and in huge amounts, which was not always efficient.

One trough revealed about a quarter of a fairly substantial square Neolithic building.

The stratified wood found has been of various types, but investigation of a core in Edinburgh found that the most predominant sort was hazel.

At a depth of 6m to 7m, oryx bones were found.

A trench across the burn found a burnt mound just below the topsoil. There has been speculation that some of these might indicate sweat lodges, but again all this is guesswork.

Paul Gething emphasised the importance of involving the community and making the project 党fun,媒 as well as scientific.

Children and adults have been involved in such things as breaking stones and heating water, and trying out different experiments to see how things might have been done.

They have made baskets and even tried to brew beer, which was drinkable if you could get past the taste. They tried different ways of cooking things, such as in pits, to determine how these burnt mounds came into being.

Education and training have also been emphasised, and lots of PhD candidates have been involved.

Good co-operation with metal detectors has been established.

Equal opportunities have also been stressed. All sorts of groups have taken part.

This year’s excavations will take place from Sunday, June 11 to Monday, July 17, and all are welcome.