The adventures of Flodden YAC
Here’s a round up of our Flodden Young Archaeologists’ Club activities in 2016… it was a very busy year!
The Bronze Age
After handling some real Bronze Age artefacts from Berwick Museum’s archaeology collection, we took part in a mock Bronze Age ‘dig’. To end the session we made Bronze Age beakers, based on an example from the Doons Law Bronze Age cist burial near Whitsome in Berwickshire.
The remains of past human activity can be seen in a number of ways. Without even taking out a trowel or surveying the site with geophysics equipment, the trained eye can find archaeological clues… One of the most fascinating ways of detecting archaeological features is through recognising “cropmarks”. Cropmarks occur when there are ditches or features (such as a stone wall) buried underneath an area used for growing crops. The archaeology below the surface can affect the way that the crops grow.
We took a look at some photographs of cropmarks then created our own cropmark experiments using cress and compost!
You can have a go at growing your own cropmark with the activity instructions on the YAC website!
We had a great time studying bones with forensic archaeologists and anthropologists from Teeside and Durham Universities. They also told us all about the work they do… fascinating, if a little gruesome at times!
’Walking in the footsteps of the King in the North’
In April we joined our local archaeology society (TillVAS) and archaeologist and author, Max Adams. Max guided us on a walk, exploring the likely route of the Anglo-Saxon kings from Bamburgh to the palace at Ad Gefrin (Yeavering). We walked through woodland and moorland, sunshine and hail showers… a journey through landscape and time.
This great photograph of the goat gate at Yeavering was taken by Young Archaeologist Will.
The geology and landscape of the Flodden battlefield was the topic for our May meeting. We joined geologists Ian Kille, Alison Tymon and Alistair Bowden, exploring the geology of some key Flodden-related sites e.g. Flodden Hill, Twizel Bridge, the Pallinsburn bog and Flodden Field. William used an auger to extract soil samples from the boggy ground on the battlefield.
We discovered how the geology of the area affected the outcome of the battle.
Oh, and we had cake!
We had a great day digging on Lindisfarne with Dr. David Petts as part of the Lindisfarne: Holy Island Archaeology Project. The team were hoping to locate the original Anglo-Saxon monastery established by King Oswald in AD 635.
This was our second visit to the incredible prehistoric wetland site at Bradford Kaims near Bamburgh. The archaeologists at Bradford Kaims have uncovered evidence of human activity going back 6,000 years. This evidence includes incredible wood ‘platforms’ that date from the early Bronze Age right back to the Mesolithic period (that’s a time span of around 2,000 years!). These possible platforms or walkways would have crossed the boggy fenland, making it possible for people to move around and use this land in prehistoric times… without getting stuck in the bog!
This time we excavated around the burnt mounds. Burnt mounds consist of piles of burnt, cracked stones that have been piled up over hundreds and sometimes thousands of years.
Kirknewton Archaeology Festival
In August we returned to Yeavering to take part in the Kirknewton Archaeology Festival.
With the help of archaeologists Chris Jones and Roger Miket, we marked out the site of the Anglo-Saxon Great Hall at Yeavering.
Potter Graham Taylor then showed us all how to make replica pots by hand. He had an amazing selection of his own replica pots from Neolithic carinated bowls to Medieval green glazed jugs.
August was a busy month! After our visit to Yeavering we were invited to a dig near Ford by Dr Ben Edwards and his team from Manchester Met University. They were excavating a Bronze Age henge… exciting stuff! It was a great site to work on, the sandy ground was lovely and soft to dig and the features were very easy to see.
Another month, another dig!
This time we were digging at Lennel Kirk, looking for the earliest phase of this medieval church (kirk). The kirk was built in around 1120 and has not been used since 1705.
Find of the day… a coin! Possibly a 17th century Scottish turner.
November was experimental archaeology month!
We discovered the art of making pots using a hand wheel with archaeologist Richard Carlton…
…and learnt how to make flint tools with Dr Rob Young.
Rob gave us a potted history of prehistoric stone tools, showing us a broad range of stone artefacts common to this area.
He then gave us a flint knapping demonstration before letting us have a go ourselves!
It’s not as easy as he makes it look!
Blog by Jane Miller, Flodden YAC leader
Flodden YAC is our first cross-border club, and runs sessions in both Scotland and England. The club is based out of Flodden 1513 EcoMuseum. Find out more about Flodden YAC and how to join now!
We look forward to hearing all about Flodden YAC's adventures in 2017...