Bamburgh is merely one part of a vast early medieval landscape in northern Northumberland which includes Holy Island or Lindisfarne, the Farne Islands and such inland sites as Yeavering, where a great Northumbrian palace was also excavated by Hope-Taylor.

I have wanted to visit Bamburgh for many years as I read several years ago that a new research project had started, and that some new archaeological work was underway. Bamburgh has a vast Norman and later castle, and this is the most obvious feature, but for me it is the earlier pre-Norman aspects of the site which are the most interesting. Bamburgh was the fortress capital of the Bernician Anglo-Saxon kingdom (these peoples were actually Anglians), one of the groups, who with the people of Deira (roughly Yorkshire) were known as the Northumbrians. Brian Hope-Taylor, a great charismatic archaeologist of the twentieth century, had excavated here but his work was never published and little has been done since.

Not only was I able to visit Bamburgh as part of this Time Team special, but I managed, at long last, to get to Inner Farne, to see the site of St Cuthbert's hermit cell (7th century), where I also saw puffins, for the first time in my life (I had been becoming convinced that they were extinct!).

Graeme Young and his team have achieved some important results at Bamburgh. Anglo-Saxon archaeology is not easy to deal with - people built with timber, wattle-work and thatch, used little pottery (presumably using wooden, horn, and leather vessels) and had little in the way of metal or stone equipment. All of this makes the archaeology of these people very difficult to find. But at Bamburgh, because it was a royal site, there are metal-working and industrial areas, slight traces of timber buildings and pieces of jewellery and carved stone work.

But what impressed me most were the inter-relationships between the sites around. Bamburgh was the royal centre, with probably an important church housing the relics of St Aidan (the parish church is Norman with a large crypt), and only a short boat trip away (even quicker by Time Team helicopter) was the cathedral and monastery on Lindisfarne, where Christianity finally came to the Northumbrians in the 7th century, and where Cuthbert, the greatest northern saint, was based. Here is the connection to Durham, where I am a visiting professor, for Cuthbert is buried in Durham Cathedral; he is one of the few Anglo-Saxon churchmen in England whose remains we still have.