Excavation work at a hospital in Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland, has unearthed finds that could shed light on the town’s medieval past.
A major construction project is underway to replace the existing Berwick Infirmary, which was built in 1874, with a new state-of-the-art hospital.
Berwick Infirmary is situated within the medieval town walls, which were constructed around 1296 AD.
Northern Archaeological Associates, who are working on behalf of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, are in the early stages of the excavation. So far, the team have uncovered the remains of pottery, fish bones, stone yards, and wall structures. The finds are believed to date to c. 1100 AD.
‘From what we have found so far, we are hoping that we are going to be able to learn much more about medieval life in Berwick,’ said Steve Collison, the lead archaeologist from Northern Archaeological Associates. ‘Our trenches are strategically placed as to where we think the archaeological remains and artefacts are most likely to have survived.’
The team suggest that the discovery of fish bones indicates that the smoking and selling of fish was part of a cottage industry in the town. Further investigation is set to determine the exact significance of the other discoveries.
Berwick-upon-Tweed has a rich medieval history. After the Battle of Carham, which saw the Kingdom of Scotland defeat the Northumbrians in 1018, the town became a strategic military position for the Scots. It was later captured in 1296 by Edward I.
Sir James Mackey, CEO of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘It is a real privilege to be able to give those who live in or are from Berwick the opportunity to learn more about their history, heritage and ancestors.’