TillVAS Till Valley Archaeological Society
TillVAS             Till Valley Archaeological Society

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Photograph Gallery

The Mardon Dig of 2018


An aerial shot of our site showing the shadow of the iron age ditch in the bottom right hand corner of the largest tranch.

Heading off for a tea break while the experts try to solve the riddle of the stones. Note the neat upturned buckets and barrows left by our trusty volunteers!

Voluteers and professionals busy working on the dark areas of the large trench. Some pieces of iron age pot were found both here and in several of the other trenches.

A large piece of pot standing vertically. A pot base was found nearby.

Celebrating the 85th Anniversary of Crookham United Reform Church

TillVAS visit to Ancrum - July 2018

Thank you to Maureen Charlton for these photographs of the Branxton Coffee morning.

Many thanks to all who attended the coffee morning.





Thank you to Paul Marshall and Maureen Charlton for these photographs taken at the New Years day walk of 2018



A selection of photographs from the dig at Mardon Farm 2017.

Hard at work cleaning the site after the digger had been

An area of raised floor and some cobbling. Due to the unevenness of the stones this might have been an area for animal rather than human habitation.

Iron age paddling pool discovered by Dave.

Its not often diggers have to shield their eyes from sun,

As always there was lots of debate while trying to make sense of post holes and drip trenches.

Sitting in the tent on one of only two wet days.

Heres what everyone is looking at. Janis pulled a large piece of iron age pottery from what was throught to be a drip trench, perhaps from a thatched roof.

A beautifully clear photograph of the 'drip trench' before excavation.

When this ditch was excavated there were some interesting finds in the mud including animal bones and vegetation.

The dig is over and its time to take a well earned rest. We are pleased to have found good dating evidence in the form of Iron age pottery and will look forward to the results of tests on the animal bones, soil samples and vegetation.


Another thank you to Maureen Charlton for these images of the stoic diggers braving the rain to backfill the last of the trenches on Lindesfarne

A last tidy up before saying goodbye to the Heugh.
The Lantern Chapel
Lots of debate as always.
Another beautiful sunny day on the Heugh with everyone looking very busy.

Thank you to Richard Waters for these pictures taken last Sunday on the walk around Flodden Hill with John Nolan.

Two fairly recent members of TillVAS, Alison Jackson and Peter Slater (second and third left) who joined after taking part in the Peregrini excavations on Lindisfarne in 2016 directed by Hon. Tillvas member, Richard Carlton. Alison and Peter both spoke at the recent Peregrini conference, putting forward the views of volunteers. 

Photo courtesy of Valerie Glass

On 1st March 2017, Chris Bowles, Archaeology Officer for Scottish Borders Council delivered a lecture entitled "An Update on Coldingham Priory". An account of the lecture will be available on the Reports on Events page.

Ian Glendinning (second from right) discussing his metal detecting finds at the TillVAS coffee morning on 11th February 2017.

Allan Wightman (second from right) also had many interested people examining his metal detecting finds.

Dr David Petts, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Archaeology at Durham University, who delivered a fascinating lecture to the Society on 1st February 2017 in Crookham Village Hall.

Amongst his many other interests and responsibilities, David runs the Department's Field School at Binchester, Co. Durham and was therefore able to give us an in-depth insight into the excavations that have been taking place in recent years. These will be continuing during the summer 2017 season. The site is open to the public from Easter Saturday until the end of September from 11am until 5pm (10am during July and August).

Is this haphazard or what!? Metal Detecting training day on 29th January 2017 at Sandyford Farm, Crookham, an event arranged by Heather Pentland for 13 people, using TillVAS metal detectors, as part of the Branxton & Crookham Village Atlas Community Project. The instructor was Ian Glendinning and additional tuition and advice was provided by Allan Wightman. As has happened recently, a day of mist and murk the day before, was followed by a day of clear blue skies for the day of the event. There was a sizeable collection of objects collected during the day, (many of them bent and twisted pieces of iron- but this was a training day!), with the most prolific hoard being horseshoes of various sizes. 

A study in concentration from a well-known Hon. Member of TillVAS during the metal detecting training day at Sandyford Farm, Crookham on 29th January 2017.

A Group Photograph (eleven plus photographer) on the New Year's Day Walk, 2017 (Leader, John Nolan in the centre with furry hat).

Reaveley Hill Cottage, 1st January 2017

At the trig. point on Reaveley Hill, 1st January 2017. John Nolan is pointing ahead to the next objective (Dunmoor Hill and Cunyan Crags in the background).

The Stone Circle visited on 1st January 2017. Leader, John Nolan is gesturing, arm outstretched. The storm clouds are gathering behind which resulted in some stinging hail showers on the way down.

There was a good attendance for the James IV Memorial Lecture held in Coldstream Community Centre on Sunday, 9th October 2016 when Dr. Glenn Foard spoke om "Bosworth 1485-a Battlefield Re-discovered".

A deep discussion in progress between the Society's Hon. President, Dr Chris Burgess, the speaker, Dr Glenn Foard and Lord Joicey, who gave the Vote of Thanks following Dr Foard's excellent lecture.

There is a swampy area at Crookham Eastfield Farm known as 'Locked Bog'. In the early part of the 19th century, a drain was laid from it, the course of which has been traced by Andrew Joicey for a distance of perhaps three-quarters of a mile. Andrew showed us where he had excavated it at one point showing that it had been laid at some considerable depth. It is suggesested that Napoleonic prisoners of war may have been detailed to lay the elaborate drain which is constructed of interlocking, shaped, hollow clay tiles. These would probably have been made in one of the local tileworks. Andrew had assembled this section of the drain which, despite the hollow tiles, weighed a great deal. The section is a little deceptive because all the tiles would have been staggered, not just the one shown protruding, in the same manner as bonded brickwork.


On 28th April 2016, the Society had a very enjoyable and successful visit to Pallinsburn House by kind permission of the owners, Mr. George Farr and Mrs. Jane Farr, Directors of Pallinsburn Estate Ltd., (seen on the far right of the photo) who were our hosts and guides for the afternoon. In addition, the party was fortunate in having expert guidance from John Grundy, the well-known writer, historian and broadcaster, who described the architectural and building evidence for establishing the different building phases that have created the very interesting building that we see today. We also benefited greatly from our fourth guide, our Vice-Chairman, Colin Wakeling, who had organised the visit preceded by the informal lunch at the Bluebell Inn, and whose detailed research into the histories of the families that have lived at Pallinsburn since the 18th century, provided the human stories that went with the house. The worsening weather and lower than average temperatures did not deter us from an exploration of the immediate policies, 18th century apple store and the greenhouses (piped warmth!) before returning to the house for very welcome tea, sandwiches and cakes.

Here, the assembled company is in the dining room with its barrel-vaulted Tudor style ceiling and elaborate decorated plasterwork.

This is one of a number of stopping points on the walking route when Max Adams described the background to the Progress of the Bernician Royal households and how the medieval landscape might have determined their route. Max provided us with a wealth of information and evidence, some of this archaeological and some from the writings of the 'Venerable' Bede.

Lunch stop at Brownridge on Chatton Moor just before a sleet shower. Overall, we were fortunate with the weather with a good deal of sunshine but a strong wind made its presence felt on the more exposed parts of the 7km walk across the moor and down to Chatton.

At the end of the Flodden 1513/TillVAS event on 23rd April 2016, with the party standing within the site of what was once a magnifcant palace at Yeavering below the impressive Yeavering Bell. Max Adams is describing the excavations carried out here in the 1950s by Brian Hope-Taylor and describing theories relating to the use of such a vast area and its connection with the dominant hill fort above.

Following the AGM on 6th April 2016, John Nolan and Richard Carlton (the latter seen above) described the results of the 2015 excavations at Flodden Hill, Ladykirk, Norham and Wark. There was an attentive audience of around 50 people (some are seated out of view behind the photographer) to see and hear about trenches, walls, ramparts, post holes, a medieval chapel, medieval pottery and much more, as described in the report of the meeting in 'Reports on Events'.

Richard Carlton, Maureen Charlton (Secretary) and John Nolan seen during the question and answer session after John and Richard's 'round-up' talk on the 2015 excavations following the Society's AGM on 6th April 2016. Here, Richard seems to be demonstrating the size of the cannon ball that we might have found at Norham Castle, but didn't. We are used to such disappointments but we do find other interesting things, even if they are less dramatic than the elusive cannon balls and gold coins.

It's good to have a lecture from a TillVAS member who has a story to tell. Caroline Douglas-Home certainly falls into that category and the extent of cross-border interest was reflected in the size of the audience. The excavations at The Hirsel during the 1970s and 1980s revealed a wealth of finds—click on Reports on Events for an account of the lecture.

New Year's Day 2016. The start of the walk at Old Bewick Farm. 16 members pictured here who, together with the photographer and one member who joined us at lunchtime made up the party of 18. Not forgetting five, well-behaved dogs of differing sizes and breeds

On one of the ramparts of the Harehope Iron Age fort above the Stock Brook. John Nolan's blue plastic bag contained pallets for spreading over boggy ground to keep the party's feet dry! What a gentleman! In the event, they were not needed although we did wade through quite a few muddy and wet areas.

The two Heathers (W & P) in conversation, having recorded a section of a deep pit at the Wark excavation, September 2015. There are smiles on their faces, and with good reason, as they had been pulling out piece after piece of 12th or 13th century pottery and animal bone.

Excavations at Ladykirk in September 2015 were abandoned because of a lack of finds and the Director, Richard Carlton, made the decision (after a useful day of metal-detecting training) to move the team and equipment back to the 'chapel' site at Wark, that was investigated in April 2015. The original trench was opened up and extended to the north and to the south. Two pits were re-examined and extended and detailed investigations were carried out within different parts of the extended trench. This proved to be a very productive site for medieval finds, including good examples of medieval coins and much medieval pottery including the attractive green-glazed ware. Potters' thumb-marks were visible on several pieces.

Is this a sorcerer at work? Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble?! No, it is Richard Carlton demonstrating the art (and that is what it is), having fired the pots amongst a pyramid of carefully selected and slowly burning wood, of then rapidly cooling the pots on the end of a stick (perhaps a 16th century arrow shaft?) in a bucket of ordinary water mixed with flour, before allowing them to cool on the grass on the right hand side.

On Monday, 31st August, Richard Carlton dried and fired the pottery that he had thrown during the previous two days. Here, he has an admiring young audience as he dries the pottery around a wood fire prior to firing in the traditional Balkan (and medieval) way.

Director of the Branxton & Crookham Village Project and Hon. Member of TillVAS, Richard Carlton, demonstrating the making of Balkan-style pottery on his self-made, hand-powered, hardwood wheel at Crookham Village Hall during the Test Pit excavation weekend, 29th to 31st August 2015. Richard made many pots of all shapes and sizes with simple but skilful decoration—the pots had an 'honest' feel to them which would have been instantly recognisable by medieval potters down the centuries.



The garden test pit excavations (a series of 1 m. square pits)—a joint project run by Flodden 1513 and the Branxton & Crookham Village Atlas Project, took place over the holiday weekend of 29th to 31st August 2015. Here, in Test Pit 1, archaeologist, John Nolan and helpers, are gazing into a magnificent, deep pit in the back garden of 36 Crookham—and, it really was deep! All the test pits produced finds of one sort or another and the results will be analysed in due course.

Test Pit 3 was described as the 'Smiddy Pit' as it was hoped to discover the site of a former blacksmith's cottage and forge to the west of the village hall. Here, volunteers, young and old (er) and a visitor (Nick from Ford) are engrossed in looking at the pit and at various finds that had come out of it. The Flodden Young Archaeologists' Club, under the guidance of Jane Miller, were heavily involved in the first day of the excavations. The Club caters for young people between the age of 8 and 17 who are interested in archaeology, and arranges for them to acquire skills in site excavation, research, and interpretation of historic landscapes. Here, we had two young volunteers aged 7, just too young to join the Club, but not too young to get their hands dirty whilst  waiting to join. And, they found things!

This test pit presented a bit of a challenge because it was within a redevelopment site but, here, professional archaeologists and Hon. TillVAS members, Richard Carlton and Jenny Vaughan, are responding to the challenge with the help of Jane Miller and four of her young archaeologists. The test pit is at an early stage so, watch this space!

Many thanks to John Pentland for this view of the excavating team on 1st June 2015, led by John Nolan and Jenny Vaughan. The team (there are some well-known faces here) are raising their cups of tea (definitely no alcohol allowed on site!) to the TillVAS Hon. President and County Archaeologist, Dr. Chris Burgess. "To Chris, steady progress towards a full recovery". This is echoed by everyone in TillVAS and in the Northumberland archaeology world.

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TillVAS is looking for volunteers to help with research. Please see archaeology page for details.

The next TillVAS talk will be on Wed 6th Feb 2019 at 7.30 in Crookham Village Hall. The title is Operation Nightingale which tells the story of the initiative to help rehabilitate injured soldiers through archaeology.

Lowick Heritage Group
On Monday 14th January (7.30pm) we have our first talk of 2019 when Peter Calder will tell us about some of his memories of his time as a farm manager.

Bowsden History Group


The first meeting of 2019 programme is on Monday 4th February, 7.30pm at Bowsden Village Hall


Dr Mike Oliver on 
From Pirates to Poets
Dr Oliver, a historian and an authority on naval history, has written three nautical novels set in the period of the Napoleonic Wars. His talk will concentrate on some of the great sailors who have connections with Northumberland.


The Society has an extensive collection of documents and photographs held in its secure archives. These are invaluable for members wishing to study the local history of the area or wishing to gather information for e.g. the  Village Atlas Project. Please click on the tag above to see the catalogues. Anyone wishing to access the archives should contact the Society's Archivist, Maureen Charlton or the Assistant Archivist, Julia Day.


Please see a new section on the website—click on the appropriate tab above.  Please let us have your thoughts, in prose or in verse.

Please click on the Latest Newsletter page to see information for the current month.


Click on Reports on Events, above, for detailed accounts and press reports.


The Society operates a bookstall at all its meetings.

Items for sale include:-

1. The Society's first publication Breamish and Till: From Source to Tweed at £10 per copy and

2. Vivian Wilcock's Andrew Todd 1844-1908 ( with research input by TillVAS members) at £5 per copy.

See the Publications page for more about these books. Copies of Breamish and Till are also available in Cornhill Village Shop and the Lavender Tea Rooms and Village Shop in Etal.


There are also archaeological books and journals for sale. Net proceeds of sale go to TillVAS funds.