Marchers Archaeology is a new independent archaeology group based in the Tyne Gap area and prepared to welcome anyone willing to volunteer. The group was formed in March 2010 by Will Higgs with the intention of investigating post-mediaeval archaeology, especially some of the remains of shielings and farmsteads on the high ground north of Haltwhistle and Brampton.
We made a start in March 2010 at Herd Law on Moss Peteral farm, excavating a turf-walled building lying out on the moors. Clay tobacco pipes from the 1690s embedded in the turf walls showed that it must have been built after that time, and 18th century pottery inside the house indicated when it was occupied.
Later that summer we excavated an enigmatical rectangular mound near the Popping Stone at Gilsland Spa. This produced no finds and appears to be a mediaeval shieling, part of the chain of similar buildings along the banks of the Irthing.
As well as excavating, we have been indulging in field walking. When moorland fields are ploughed for re-seeding there is a brief opportunity to see what is lying hidden in the soil and perhaps discover an unknown archaeological site from the artefacts scattered on the surface. We’ve recently found flint flakes which have been identified as Mesolithic and Bronze-age, and a Roman bead.
Archaeology is labour-intensive, and what we need most of all are volunteers. We usually excavate one day a week, but you can contribute as much or as little time as you can manage, and your contribution to Marchers Archaeology needn’t necessarily involve excavating, there’s lots of follow-up work to do after the dig. Finds need to be photographed and drawn, plans traced and digitised, reports to be written and this website to be developed. Perhaps even a display or conference to be organised - it would look good on your CV!
No experience necessary!