St Ebbas chapel is situated on Ebbs Nook, a promontory of the Northumberland coast. This name suggested a link with the 7th century saint St Ebbas and the team were keen to see if this name association had any truth in it. But, despite the work of previous investigators, the age and layout of the site remained unclear. Was the site indeed a chapel complex? Were the mounds visible across the area evidence of an earlier, perhaps prehistoric use of the area? Could we find any evidence of 7th century links to St Ebbas? These were the questions the team hoped to be able to answer. Our first task was to update earlier survey work to ensure the accuracy of our trench locations. Of course John had a few problems with his survey work - the site was so lumpy and bumpy with such shallow topsoil that the usual geophysical survey techniques were not as easy as they could have been. We also had one final consideration - the site was eroding into the sea fast. This was going to be a rescue dig.

Our first trench went in to investigate reported burials and to get an idea of the preservation of the chapel buildings. With the very shallow soil at the site overlying the bedrock, we soon discovered building remains and the inevitable burials, many very well preserved. By the end of day one much of the team were pretty busy. None of this was helping us push the date of the site back. The mysterious mounds close to the chapel structure seemed as if they might hold the answer - prehistoric perhaps? Mick thought these could, in fact, be an earlier, perhaps 7th century structure. By the beginning of day two it was time for another trench.

Meanwhile, Phil's work in the chapel wasn't proving conclusive as plenty of Victorian and later pottery was turning up perhaps from earlier excavations. Our new trench over the mysterious mound was confusing as far as the geophysical survey results were concerned but it appeared that the World War II defences had at least missed the mound. Could this area give us the early date we were looking for? Matt soon discovered indications of what appeared to be an earlier structure at a different alignment to the later chapel buildings - that seemed to include human remains. Matt felt we could have a cist - a stone constructed burial, Mick felt it could be the base for a stone cross. Despite all the theorising none of our trenches were delivering any dating material. This presented us with a problem - if we couldn't date the site, one of our main aims, then our work would be for nothing.

Mick was convinced that our only chance was to remove some of the walling in the later chapel in the hope that earlier architectural styles might give us a dating indication. This work had to be carried out carefully as the site is a protected monument. Luckily English Heritage, guardians of the site, were keen for us to confirm dating and condition of the site to help them manage and protect it in the future. To this end the investigations around the chapel also continued with Cassie opening another trench that held something of a surprise - a cemetery for babies and children. This was a reminder to us of how the site had been used over the centuries and the meaning that it must have had to those living here.

Unfortunately, Micks gambit did not provide us with the architectural detail we were after. One option remained - taking a sample from the human remains at the site in the hope that a radio carbon date could give us the answers we were looking for. With all the burials we were encountering there wasn't any way we could open up any new trenches. Luckily Ian uncovered a burial underlying one of the stone walls of the chapel complex. This discovery was essential as it allowed us to take samples intended to gain some idea of the development of St Ebbas chapel. Since the burials were below the chapel walls we reasoned they would be earlier than the supposedly 13th century structure. Strangely, when the samples came back from the lab the dates suggested that the burials would have occurred between the 16th and 18th centuries - a surprise as it suggested the area stayed in use as a sacred site for centuries after the chapel was abandoned. Well, it wouldn't be Time Team without a surprise or two.

Mr Hinde's work uncovered part of a chapel complex, thought to be 13th century, and created a basic survey of visible earthworks. A more accurate survey was made by Newcastle University in 1992 which helped us consider our trench locations. Of course a fly in the ointment appeared when we discovered aerial photographs showing World War II trenches dug across the promontory.

St Ebbas chapel is situated on Ebbs Nook, a promontory of the Northumberland coast. This name suggested a link with the 7th century saint St Ebbas and the team were keen to see if this name association had any truth in it. But, despite the work of previous investigators, the age and layout of the site remained unclear. Was the site indeed a chapel complex? Were the mounds visible across the area evidence of an earlier, perhaps prehistoric use of the area? Could we find any evidence of 7th century links to St Ebbas? These were the questions the team hoped to be able to answer. Our first task was to update earlier survey work to ensure the accuracy of our trench locations. Of course John had a few problems with his survey work - the site was so lumpy and bumpy with such shallow topsoil that the usual geophysical survey techniques were not as easy as they could have been. We also had one final consideration - the site was eroding into the sea fast. This was going to be a rescue dig.

Our first trench went in to investigate reported burials and to get an idea of the preservation of the chapel buildings. With the very shallow soil at the site overlying the bedrock, we soon discovered building remains and the inevitable burials, many very well preserved. By the end of day one much of the team were pretty busy. None of this was helping us push the date of the site back. The mysterious mounds close to the chapel structure seemed as if they might hold the answer - prehistoric perhaps? Mick thought these could, in fact, be an earlier, perhaps 7th century structure. By the beginning of day two it was time for another trench.

Meanwhile, Phil's work in the chapel wasn't proving conclusive as plenty of Victorian and later pottery was turning up perhaps from earlier excavations. Our new trench over the mysterious mound was confusing as far as the geophysical survey results were concerned but it appeared that the World War II defences had at least missed the mound. Could this area give us the early date we were looking for? Matt soon discovered indications of what appeared to be an earlier structure at a different alignment to the later chapel buildings - that seemed to include human remains. Matt felt we could have a cist - a stone constructed burial, Mick felt it could be the base for a stone cross. Despite all the theorising none of our trenches were delivering any dating material. This presented us with a problem - if we couldn't date the site, one of our main aims, then our work would be for nothing.

Mick was convinced that our only chance was to remove some of the walling in the later chapel in the hope that earlier architectural styles might give us a dating indication. This work had to be carried out carefully as the site is a protected monument. Luckily English Heritage, guardians of the site, were keen for us to confirm dating and condition of the site to help them manage and protect it in the future. To this end the investigations around the chapel also continued with Cassie opening another trench that held something of a surprise - a cemetery for babies and children. This was a reminder to us of how the site had been used over the centuries and the meaning that it must have had to those living here.

Unfortunately, Micks gambit did not provide us with the architectural detail we were after. One option remained - taking a sample from the human remains at the site in the hope that a radio carbon date could give us the answers we were looking for. With all the burials we were encountering there wasn't any way we could open up any new trenches. Luckily Ian uncovered a burial underlying one of the stone walls of the chapel complex. This discovery was essential as it allowed us to take samples intended to gain some idea of the development of St Ebbas chapel. Since the burials were below the chapel walls we reasoned they would be earlier than the supposedly 13th century structure. Strangely, when the samples came back from the lab the dates suggested that the burials would have occurred between the 16th and 18th centuries - a surprise as it suggested the area stayed in use as a sacred site for centuries after the chapel was abandoned. Well, it wouldn't be Time Team without a surprise or two.