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
Thanks to Maureen Charlton for her excellent photographs of the recent Pergrini Lindesfarne dig.
Thank you to Richard Waters for these pictures taken last Sunday on the walk around Flodden Hill with John Nolan.
Talk by Dr Richard Tipping
A wet day at Lennel Kirk, 22nd March 2017. Following on from the excavations last week, the priority this week, over the course of two days, was to remove the remaining spoil from the chancel and to tidy up the site. This has been a most unusual and interesting project and it will be interesting to see how things develop over the coming months as the conservation work gets under way, starting with the repointing and repair of the walls. Eventually, the kirk will be open to the public with explanatory boards describing the history of the building. TillVAS members have been helping the Directors of Coldstream's Heritage Ltd with their excavations.
Photo courtesy of Gerald Tait.
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
The TillVAS Coffee Morning on 11th February 2017 attracted a good crowd of supporters who were not deterred by the wet weather. Tables groaning under the weight of cakes, preserves, books, CDs, and DVDs were all well patronised, as was the ever-popular joker table. As for the raffle, the donation of prizes must have been the best ever, resulting in two hampers for two of the many prizes that were drawn!
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.
On 7th December 2016, Fiona Glover and Jenny Dougal of the Friends of Eyemouth Fort gave an excellent talk on the history of the fort and the development of public awareness of the headland site during the last five years or so, which includes a 3D virtual reality experience at Eyemouth Museum set up by St. Andrew's University.
This small dedicated group of excavators was not put off by the wet conditions at the ruined medieval chapel at Abbey St. Bathans on 16th October 2016. This was a historic occasion, being the last excavation carried out under the Flodden 1513 programme. The investigation of the chapel and the nearby excavations at Windy Whinshiel formed part of the Scottish Routeways project looking at buildings and sites that would have been in existence at the time of the Battle of Flodden in 1513 and which might have been visited by elements of the Scottish army. This chapel could have been visited by soldiers on their way to an assembly point or by stragglers returning home after the battle. On the last day of the excavations, the team investigated small areas adjoining the east and west walls of the chapel. In the photograph above, from left to right, are:-
Peter Ryder (historic buildings expert); Richard Carlton (Director of excavations); Diana Smith; Ray Clarke; Heather Pentland; Maureen Charlton. Also present was the photographer, Antony Chessell.
A group of Honorary Members, Committee Members and Stalwart Helpers photographed after the James IV Memorial Lecture on 9th October 2016.
From left to right- Dr Burgess, Jenny Vaughan, John Nolan, Dr Foard, Alan Urwin, Maureen Charlton, Kathleen Holmes, Wendy Urwin, Margaret Mole, Antony Chessell, Val Ainslie, Heather Pentland, Valerie Glass, Julia Day.
The Branxton Walk with historic buildings expert, Peter Ryder on 2nd October 2016. This was an event held in connection with the Branxton & Crookham Village Atlas Project for which Peter is a consultant. Here, Peter is pointing to some of the building features at St. Paul's Church. Below, the party is listening to Peter's description of the small, medieval chancel and the Norman chancel arch on its decorated columns. The party then progressed through the village examining quoins, margins, kneelers, verges and much, much more. By special permission, we were able to go inside the 'Tin Tabernacle'. Refreshments were served before and after the walk in Branxton Village Hall.
Dr David Caldwell, one of the two professional archaeologists (the other being Richard Carlton-far left) speaking to the party following in the footsteps of the Scottish army on 17th September 2016. This photo is at Ellemford in the Scottish Borders, a mustering point for King James IV's army before Flodden. Members of the party look in contemplative mood but there was much to be contemplative about.
On a warm, sunny, 4th September afternoon, the 2016 Etal Show was a great success—and so was the TillVAS stand which attracted over 100 visitors, many of whom were able to consult the many archives on display in search of their family connections to the area and to learn about the work of the Society. The Society's exhibits were housed in the new marquee which provided an excellent display area. Members, Valerie Glass and Antony Chessell won first prizes in different photographic sections in the Show and Valerie also won a silver trophy for submitting the best photograph in the Show. Also, congratulations to Valerie for lifting a trophy at the recent Glendale Show for a photographic entry.
Day 3 of the investigations at Lennel Kirk, 27th August 2016. See previous photos. Much better weather. Another well-earned tea/coffee break for some of the team amongst the grave slabs and tombstones which are not within the investigation site. Here, Kenny Brodie (of the Band, "Brody" [sic]) seems to be saying to Richard Carlton, flanked by Gerald Tait and Trevor Swan, "Shall I fetch my guitar?"
The first day (25th August 2016) of the Community Archaeology Project at Lennel Kirk, Coldstream with some of the team having a tea break. A very dull day with outbreaks of rain did not deter the volunteers from starting on rubble clearance within the ruins of the medieval kirk. The kirk has been in existence since at least the early 12th century but was declared unsound in 1704, being replaced by a new kirk in Coldstream in 1718. This view shows the much-altered walls of the nave with 19th century monuments built into the walls. In the background is the west gable against which is the pent-roofed mort-house, the latter built in the early 19th century. Although the ivy has been mostly destroyed to prevent further damage to the walls, there is still a stubborn plant at the top that needs to be dealt with. The volunteers on this project are drawn from residents of Coldstream and members of TillVAS. Excavations are being carried out with great sensitivity so as not to disturb burials.
The view looking west across the chancel and nave of Lennel Kirk shows a cross-wall with later stonework probably resting on medieval walling. Was this a supporting wall for a rood screen? The picture is complicated because of 19th century grave surrounds with iron railings (the railings since removed). There is a monument in the south wall with a pediment above which is that of Patrick Brydone (1736-1818), who served in the Seven Years' War, was a traveller, tutor to the two sons of the Prime Minister, Lord North, and became Comptroller General of the Stamp Office. He married the daughter of the Principal of Edinburgh University in 1785 and moved to nearby Lennel House (now a Care Home). His daughter married the heir to the earldom of Minto.
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.
TillVAS members in one of the yards at Crookham Eastfield Farm on 20th July 2016, listening to Hon. Andrew Joicey (fourth from right) explaining some of the many interesting features of the buildings and their uses. The farm was once farmed by the Culley brothers although, as yet, Steve Pullan has not discovered water meadows. The Society is grateful to Andrew for enabling us to visit the farm and to Corinne Joicey for providing the refreshments at the end!
On Saturday, 11th June 2016, members attended a morning workshop on historic landscape study in Branxton Village Hall and an afternoon walk around medieval Branxton including part of the Flodden battlefield area. The event was organised by Alistair Bowden, Project Coordinator with Flodden 1513. The workshop was run by Alan Rushworth, Director, The Archaeological Practice Ltd and the walk was led by John Nolan with specialist input on finds by Jenny Vaughan, both freelance archaeologists and Hon. TillVAS members. The morning workshop provided a fascinating insight into changes in landscape and changes in village layout over the centuries as evidenced by historic maps, pictorial representations, historic documents, archaeological excavations and the interpretation of such sources. The afternoon walk was punctuated by frequent stops to learn about landscape features and historical evidence relating to them. The workshop and the walk were of particular benefit to those members who are part of the Branxton & Crookham Village Atlas Project.
The photo shows one of the stops on the walk overlooking a lower section of the Flodden battlefield area.
On 18th May 2016, renowned historic buildings expert, Peter Ryder, gave an evening talk at the privately owned and restored Abbey St. Bathans Kirk. His subject was on decorated grave covers in the Borders. There was a good attendance to hear what was a fascinating, illustrated talk. Afterwards, some of the audience assembled outside to hear more from Peter, before walking to a nearby site which may be the location of an earlier medieval priory which pre-dated the Cistercian nunnery that was on the site of the present kirk. Here, Peter is talking to the walking party before they set off.
This talk took place during a week of excavations at Abbey St. Bathans.
The excavations during the week of 17th-20th May 2016 have been associated with religious sites at Abbey St. Bathans and their possible relationship with the routes to Flodden taken by the Scottish army.
The ruined buildings of Windy Windshiel provided the subject for the second excavation this year (the first was at St. Ethelreda's Chapel site near Yetholm) under the heading of 'Flodden Routeways'. These excavations in May and June 2016, under the direction of Richard Carlton, aim to examine sites and buildings along a number of possible routes taken by the Scottish army on its way to the Flodden Battlefield in 1513. Windy Windshiel is close to the Scottish Army's assembly point at Ellemford and the ruins are the remains of two houses (one of them a tower house) where families lived until the 1870s and also the remains of a water-powered mill and, perhaps a barn and/or stable which is becoming more apparent during excavation.
The site is situated on high ground with attractive views down towards Ellemford.
On 4th May 2016, Dr. Tony Barrow spoke to the Society about "Whaling in the North-East". His talk was a comprehensive overview of an important piece of Social History from the 18th and 19th centuries and was delivered to a large and interested audience in Crookham Village Hall. See 'Reports on Events' for more information.One of the many images used by Dr. Tony Barrow to illustrate his lecture on "Whaling in the North-East"; the image includes Dr. Barrow's silhouette on the left! This painting by the artist John Wilson Carmichael (1800-1868) depicts the Newcastle ships, Lord Gambier, Lady Jane and Grenville Bay whaling in the Arctic. The 'fast boat' (bottom left) chosen to take the lead in catching the whale (shown on the right) is distinguishable by the flag flying in the stern and matched by the flag flying atop the Mizzen Mast on the Lord Gambier. Harpoonists on another whale boat shown behind the whale are about to send in another harpoon. One of the crew of the 'fast boat' is wearing a red cap, a trademark in Carmichael's paintings.
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.
The joint Flodden 1513/TillVAS event on 23rd April 2016 started indoors at The Pavilion, Bamburgh. Here, Max Adams, author of The King in the North, is setting the scene before the party set off by coach and on foot to follow the possible route of Royal household Progress between their palaces at Bamburgh and Yeavering, in early medieval times.
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.
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 was a 'full house' for the lecture given by Kristian Pedersen of the University of Edinburgh on 2nd March 2016 on the subject 'Vikings in the North Atlantic'. We were treated to the most up-to-date thinking concerning the movement of Vikings from Norway to Scotland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, Baffin Island and the coast of northern North America. See the page for 'Reports on Events'. Here, Kristian is answering some of the many and varied questions that were put to him after the lecture.
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.
6th January 2016. TillVAS celebrated Twelth Night in style, in front of a roaring fire, with the Christmas wreath and other decorations still in place, whilst listening to Dr. Chris Bowles, Scottish Borders Council Archaeology Officer, speaking on memories of place, lost, found and regained and feelings for people and places, all in an archaeological context. An unusual and thought-provoking lecture—see Reports on Events for more on this.
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.
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.
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!
Exciting finds at Norham Castle, July 2015—two very attractive pieces of slipware pottery. The large piece on the left (about 5 inches across) was found in Trench 5 and the one on the right, in Trench 6. They were from two different platters that would have been quite large and probably quite high status pieces from the 17th century. Trench 5 was dug on the site of possible medieval cottages. The pottery sherd was discovered near what might have been a domestic hearth of uneven stones, but this might have had an industrial use. A piece of iron was discovered next to the 'hearth' and there were many pieces of scattered coal as well as one or more concentrations of partly burnt coal. Trench 6 was dug within what may have been a defensive position or entrenchment separated from the outer ward by the present road to the west of the castle, facing towards the R. Tweed.
July 2015— How many volunteers and professional archaeologists does it take to excavate one medium-sized trench!? In this case (Trench 1 at Norham Castle) the answer is obviously eight volunteers, including the photographer, plus our Director of Excavations, Richard Carlton and our Supervisor, Liz Herbert! What a concentration of effort and experience!
Trench 1 is sited at the end of a triangular area overlooking Norham village, an ideal place for a canon emplacement. The trench revealed a linear, stone deposit but, strangely, it is sited to one side of a clay-topped embankment, an unusual place for a wall. It might have been a paved track. Perhaps things will become clearer during the week. A small piece of orange pottery was found and it was suggested that it might date to the 16th century.
This photo was taken before an 'invasion' of sheep advancing towards our sandwiches and before an afternoon downpour which halted work for the day. Note the Headquarters Tent down at the bottom of the slope. It is always good to have a climb to start the day!
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.
The company assembling outside The Old Manse, Crookham, on the Crookham Village Walk on 13th May 2015. Project Manager, Mike Keating, is about to point out the level of the road at this point, which is much lower than the front boundary of the Manse, thus preventing direct access to the front of the house. Did Lady Waterford, in the 19th century, arrange for the road to be lowered in order to make the going easier for horse-drawn carts which would otherwise have had to climb a steep gradient into the village?
Inside the barrel-vaulted ground floor of the building closely associated, at least in part, with the structure of the original castle although there have been many changes and additions during the course of time. We also had a walk around the policies, looking in on the smiddy and ending up with tea and cake in the old dairy, kindly provided by our hosts.
A new list of photographs of Branxton have been added to the archives.
See Archaeology News for information about our dig at Mardon
Congratulations to Ford School! See 'Village Atlas News' for details or follow the link to the Berwickshire Advertiser for more details. http://www.berwick-advertiser.co.uk/news/heritage-heroes-are-the-first-in-england-1-4519447
ADVANCE NOTICE OF 2017 SUMMER EXCAVATION
Some very good news!
Please click on Archaeology News, above
FLODDEN 1513 WEBSITE
This website continues in a new format and is being kept up-to-date with information about the battle, the ecomuseum, the 41 sites on the network and much more. Please click on the Links page, above, in order to access the site. There is also information about 'The Way Ahead' on the Archaeology page, above.
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.
MEMBERS' WRITTEN CONTRIBUTIONS
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.
BRANXTON & CROOKHAM VILLAGE ATLAS PROJECT
There are some important meetings of the Activity Groups scheduled over the next few months. Please click on the appropriate tag above, which will take you to the Village Atlas page and give you all the dates, times and places of the meetings.
ALL MEMBERS OF THE LOCAL COMMUNITY, TILLVAS MEMBERS AND MEMBERS OF OTHER ATLAS GROUPS ARE ALSO WELCOME TO ATTEND ANY OF THESE MEETINGS (except the Steering Committee).
Please click on the Latest Newsletter page to see information for the current month.
PREVIOUS LECTURE AND OTHER REPORTS
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.