Monthly Archives: December 2013



The WallQuest Community Archaeology Programme involves local communities and volunteers in research and excavations along the eastern sector of Hadrian’s Wall. Look at the website for details on how to sign up, the projects and what has been found.




A frontier in transition at Vindolanda by Director of Excavations at Vindolanda,                    Dr Andrew Birley

On the 1st of April in 2013 the Vindolanda Trust started its most ambitious and challenging series of excavations to date, a five year research project under the title of ‘frontiers in transition’. Over the course of its five years, the project will have provided over 2500 opportunities for volunteers to become directly involved in archaeological field work, gaining first-hand experience of the archaeology and history of the world heritage site, as well as places for those who don’t want to directly get their hands dirty in the Northumbrian mud. As the Andrew Birley, the Director of excavations at Vindolanda put it ‘the people who come along and take part on the Vindolanda excavations don’t make up the numbers, they are here to engage with and be an active part of the unfolding story of the history of the site. Frontiers in transition is aimed at unravelling seven centuries of occupation, but more than that, it looks at untangling the potentially disparate experiences of frontier life over such a great amount of time. Vindolanda was not home to one community, it was home to many communities and through this project we aim to let them all have their voice.’

Canadian Field School

The project involves excavations in three areas; the south-eastern quadrant of the last stone fort, deep excavations below the 3rd century vicus and a widening of the exploratory work in the field to the north of the Stanegate road where two new Roman forts have recently been discovered. The first of which may pre-date all of the other Roman remains at Vindolanda.

After the first successful year in 2013, which focused on the post-Roman and late Roman remains within the last stone forts, 2014 will widen out to look at all three areas, starting from the 7th of April and running five days a week until the 20th of September. As usual, the website opened up on the 1st of November this year to take bookings for the excavations in 2014, and 500 places were fully booked in under 20 minutes. This shows both the popularity of Vindolanda but also the great enthusiasm that remains for people to actively take part and become involved in field work on the northern frontier of Roman Britain. Of course, not everyone is able to excavate, or indeed wants to excavate, and as a response the Vindolanda Trust is widening its access through a series of excellent post-excavation courses and training, from archaeological illustration to photography and Roman cookery. This gives people the chance to engage with the work in many different ways and to get the benefit of the research that is taking place at Vindolanda.

For more information about the most recent Vindolanda research project and a complete list of archaeological related courses being run at Vindolanda next year check out the website for regular updates.

Lake District Archaeology Volunteer Network

Articles by Holly-Beavitt Pike of Lake District National Park.


Reflections on History Phase 3

This year saw the completion of the Reflections on History project which is part of the Windermere Reflections programme currently being run by a partnership headed by the Environment Agency.  Windermere Reflections is a 3 year Heritage Lottery (HLF) funded community programme comprising 19 projects which address a range of issues from water quality to historic environment. Reflections on History has been jointly run by archaeological staff from the LDNPA and National Trust and has provided opportunities for local people to take part in archaeological survey and investigation of the industrial heritage of the Windermere area. This included examining the themes of woodland, water power and rocks and minerals. The first two phases were completed in 2011 and 2012 and phase three was completed this April with an examination of the archaeology of mines and quarries. Four sites were chosen for survey and investigation. These were Banks Quarry – a redundant slate quarry located in the Langdale Valley, Greenhead Gill Mine – the remains of a 16th century lead mine located near to Grasmere and the Fairfield and Providence Mines – both of which are iron mines said to have been worked c1700, also located in Grasmere.


Volunteers Day

On Saturday 8 June a group of about 15 volunteers joined John Hodgson and Kasia Litwa at Hartsop Hall farm for a guided walk which was a part of the Lake District National Park Authority Volunteers Day 2013. Sites visited included a Roman-British settlement enclosed by a low bank, incorporating a number of massive glacial boulders and containing 6 or 7 hut circles. Adjacent to the settlement is a large buried mound probably dating from the Bronze Age and a medieval shieling – a longhouse with a small enclosure alongside once containing people and their animals. Lunch was eaten at Hoggett Gill, the site of a 17 Century lead smelter which comprises a stone building with the remains of a waterwheel pit, leat and chopwood kiln (for drying wood for smelting). The Hartsop Hall lead mines, viewed on the Second World War.

Archaeology and Photography workshop

On Tuesday 13 August Kasia delivered an Archaeology and Photography workshop to 17 archaeology volunteers. The aim of this one-day event was to raise awareness of the use of digital photography in the field of archaeology and to help the participants in developing their photographic skills and interests in the company of fellow volunteers in an informal and relaxed way. The workshop consisted of three sessions:

an introductory talk about the history of archaeological photography and the basics of photography and the use of a camera, and two hands-on sessions. Volunteers spent over an hour at the Duddon Furnace trying out different methods and procedures. After lunch they spent about an hour photographing and illustrating artefacts. The workshop was an introduction to the wide field of archaeological photography and Kasia hopes that it sparked a new interest among the participating volunteers.

Romans in Ravenglass


The first season of the exciting Romans in Ravenglass project has now sadly come to end. Romans in Ravenglass is a partnership project between the Lake District National Park Authority, Muncaster Parish Council and the Muncaster Estate and is funded by the Heritage Lottery

Fund, the Copeland Community Fund and the LDNPA. During September volunteers were given an opportunity to understand more about the Roman Heritage of Ravenglass, concentrating on the vicus (civilian settlement) surrounding the fort. Archaeological investigations in the form of geophysical survey, field walking and the excavation of three trenches was carried out in order to determine the extent and layout of the civilian settlement.

News bulletin     


Email                          archvol@lake‐


Tees Archaeology

A Roman Villa at the Edge of Empire


The results of the excavation of a Roman Villa at Ingleby Barwick, Stockton-on-Tees, ahead of house building in 2003/04 have just been published in a monograph by the Council for British Archaeology.

The main villa complex was preseved beneath a ‘village green’ but its ancilliary buildings inlcuding a heated room and a horse powered mill. High status finds included several sherds of Egyptian glass from a fine piece of tableware. For more details about the villa please check

Elwick Village Atlas: Big Dig

In July Tees Archaeology helped residents of Elwick village carry out trial excavations on several areas of the village green as part of a Village Atlas Project.

A low earthwork on the north side of the green turned out to be an air raid shelter from World War II, a structure remembered by some residents.

An intriguing collection of coins from 1928-1945 were found in a concentration in a discrete area suggesting part of the green may have been used for a commercial purposes, perhaps a fair or market for a short period.


North Cemetery, Hartlepool

Tees Archaeology, along with the Friends of North Cemetery, Hartlepool carried out a small trial excavation on a former cemetery lodge and two chapels.

The cemetery was opened in 1856 to serve the expanding port and town of West Hartlepool. The excavations noted that the buildings were founded on a mound of spoil, the result of dumping material excavated from the new docks. The buildings themselves were built of magnesium limestone blocks, which were probably also quarried from the docks themselves. As part of the project the Friends also carried out detailed recording on surviving memorials within the cemetery.


Photo by Joseph Pullman, Friends of North Cemetery

World War I Project

Tees Archaeology are currently working to enhance our understanding of World War I military and civil sites across Teesside. These include a sea-plane base at Seaton Snook, Hartlepool, a sub-marine depot at South Gare and a wireless listening post for intercepting German communications at Rimswell, Stockton.

We are finding that many buildings were commandeered by Northern Command such as Thorpe House on Norton High Street, used as a hospital during the period.


If you have any information on World War I sites in the area then we would love to hear from you.




Till Valley Archaeological Society

Till Valley Archaeological Society

The Society’s core aim is ‘To encourage and promote the study of the archaeology, heritage and history of the catchment area of the River Till.’

Two pilot schemes, involving TillVAS working parties, are under way to establish the feasibility of Village Atlas projects for Branxton and Crookham. The working parties have researched and copied many documents and maps and have uncovered human stories relating to the history of the villages. Several exhibitions of the material have taken place and these have proved to be popular with visitors to the area as well as with members of the Society.

The most recent showing was at a summer exhibition at Heatherslaw Mill from May until the end of September 2013; this was staffed on three days a week by Society members. The exhibition aimed to give visitors to Northumberland and also local people, interesting information on the history of the area and to show them something of the work of the Society. The exhibition attracted around 1600 visitors and led to worthwhile feedback on a range of topics from family history to agricultural practices.

Arising from the archaeological excavations around Flodden, an ongoing (and seemingly endless!—but see below) project is the washing and cataloguing of the many finds, at the Society’s store at Etal. This may appear to be a boring task but it has proved to be quite the reverse as, apart from being a good social occasion, it has been interesting to see and handle such a wide variety of artefacts, one after the other. A Roman brooch may be followed by a buckle, a flint microlith, a piece of clay (smoking) pipe or a rim or base from an early or late glazed earthenware pot.

Bamburgh Research Project

Exciting new finds at the Bradford Kaims wetland excavation by Graeme Young of the Bamburgh Research Project

Over the last few year the Bamburgh Research Project has been excavating at a wetland site at Bradford Kaims, some 5km to the west of Bamburgh Village, in parallel with the long term excavation at Bamburgh Castle. The new site has been investigated as part of an English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund supported Project aimed at expanding community involvement and outreach as well as increasing our understanding of this fascinating landscape.

Geophysical survey, kindly donated by Geophysical Surveys of Bradford, and test pitting has revealed the presence of at least 12 burnt mounds. These lie around what would have been the dry ground around the former lake, now peat filled and covered by pasture.

This summer the unusually dry weather has been a real boon, allowing the extension of Trench 6, which contains the first burnt mound we discovered, down slope and into the peat layers. This burnt mound particularly intrigues us as an archaeomagnetic date on some fired clay around a stone hearth has been dated to 4230 BC, suggesting a very early mound indeed. Right below the mound and in the upper layers of peat we uncovered a round-wood timber platform, of some considerable extent. In fact we are yet to find north, south and west sides, but we do know that it extends for some metres in all of three directions.

Preserved organic remains from prehistory are rare discoveries, so this caused a  great deal of excitement. All the more so when a preserved wooden paddle was found lying on top of the timber platform. In addition to the paddle the recovery of Carinated Bowl pottery, from the layers above the paddle, provides additional dating evidence to support the early date of the mound. All things considered it looks like the paddle and platform date back to around 4000 BC.

Find out more about the Bamburgh Research Project and the Bamburgh Castle and Bradford Kaims sites on our blog

Opportunities to join the training excavation in June and July of 2014 are available, with details on the website under ‘field school’.