Q&A with site supervisor Graeme Young

(Bamburgh Research Project)

What qualities do you look for in a digger?

A genuine interest in, and enthusiasm to learn about archaeology, is the quality we most value. Anything else can be taught if someone wants to learn. Of course being intelligent and good with your hands is also a bonus.

What items of equipment would you say are essential for a novice to bring along themselves?

A tough and comfortable pair of boots and clothing for all seasons should be on anyone’s list when they go digging in the UK. Any decent excavation should be able to provide the tools needed for the excavation but having your own pens, pencils and hand tape can be very useful. However many of these we stock up with they always seem to be in short supply. We try to make sure that we have kettles and tea/coffee making facilities on site, but I would definitely advise your own mug rather than relying on a site one.

What things should a novice digger say to the site supervisor when first arriving at the dig?

Just introduce yourself, be friendly and honest about your level of experience.

What things shouldn’t a novice digger say to the site supervisor when first arriving at the dig?

I would suggest you don’t worry too much about saying the wrong thing, we have all made silly comments or asked obvious questions, particularly when in a new environment. We very much encourage people to talk to our staff. After all if we don’t know how you are finding the experience or what particularly interests you its very hard for us to offer the best experience.

And finally: what has been your weirdest/most intriguing/favourite find?

We have over the years found all manner of fascinating finds at Bamburgh, from decorated gold to a coin hoard. It might be surprising then that the most memorable find was from a very recent era, the 1970s! This was when we opened a series of doors in the castle curtain wall next to our site and found the site office and finds storerooms used by Dr Brian Hope-Taylor during his time at the castle. Not only was there a substantial finds assemblage together with tools and equipment we also found his site kettle and a newspaper still on the table!