Monday, 25 October 2010

Archaeology Love

Bamburgh Castle
On Monday nights the Durham Medieval Archaeology Society offers seminars on current archaeological projects and research based on sites cira AD 400-1500. I decided to go to tonight's seminar since I had read a few things about the one of the presentations. (The seminar was on Bamburgh Castle - the thing I read about, and the reuse of prehistoric monuments in Anglo-Saxon settlements)  Both discussions where incredibly interesting. To begin (and I apologize if you find this to be a little boring, but I think it is incredibly fascinating!) Bamburgh Castle is about two hours north of where I live. Bamburgh Castle sits on the shores of the North Sea and spans over nine acres. Graeme Young (the speaker) focused his presentation on the inner ward where current archaeology is being conducted. In particular he focused on two trenches, one in the center and one off to the side located beside the Church. The archaeologists believe Bamburgh Castle has always been occupied as there is no evidence of burning or abandonment.  Focusing primarily on the Church site (they've found a lot of 12th century pottery there), Young showed pictures of the excavation, including -- and here is the exciting part -- under what they perceived as ruins was actually 12th century walls, the REAL Medieval Church ruins! The ruins that are above ground are actually folly ruins! The stone work dates back to the 19th century, crazy Victorians trying to seem cooler than they were! So after further excavations it seems that under the 19th century pretend ruins laid the original outter walls of the fortress. Young went into further details about the excavations and current archaeology, for instance between two 12th century walls and just under the 19th century wall were human remains separated from each other (Young believes the remains are from the same human-being but it hasn't been confirmed yet). As of today they are still doing research and archaeology excavation at Bamburgh Castle, hopefully getting the work published in the future. 

The second seminar was equally interesting, although not particularly my area of interest. Vicky Crewe presented an abridged version of her PhD dissertation about the reuse of prehistoric monuments in Early to Middle Anglo-Saxon settlements. She presented a few sample settlements, mostly in the middle regions of England, overall in her dissertation she reviewed 42 though. The interesting this about her seminar was that the settlements that did reuse prehistoric monuments either used them intrusively and built into them, or they built around them/incorporated them into their settlements, especially in cemeteries. Both seminars were really interesting and I'm glad I decided to go. 

All in all, I really hope to see Bamburgh Castle before I leave. And who knows, maybe I can secure a job or internship working there this summer! 

Some helpful links about Bamburgh Castle:

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