Time Team's visit to Bamburgh was a little different to the normal filming experience, as the team were visiting an ongoing long-term research project, rather than leading their own excavation.
Bamburgh Research Project was set up in 1996 by a small group of archaeologists, myself included, who were interested in the archaeology of Anglo-Saxon Northumbria. Since then it has grown from a weekend hobby to a substantial research excavation that aims to bring to light thousands of years of occupation of a fascinating site. BRP is no stranger to film and TV, having appeared in many documentaries and even a documentary feature film, and the project is also one of the first major projects to have been comprehensively recorded on digital video. Over ten years of excavations have produced in excess of 1200 hours of footage which is considered to be part of the primary record of the site.
So what was it like playing host to Time Team? Well it was a very positive experience, though we did cheat a little and plan carefully for this by making sure the directors and senior staff would have time available to work with Time Team in order to make the best of the research effort they can bring to bear. It would appear to have worked out well as, despite the natural disruption of having film crews on site, it was for us an enjoyable few days. We hope the Time Team bunch felt the same and that this will lead to a terrific programme.
I am sure that it also helped that one of John Gator's geophysics team, Graeme Attwood, had in years past been a student on the project and stayed on as an Assistant Supervisor to finish up in charge of one of our excavation areas. Also Georgina Stewart, in her first year as a production assistant on Time Team had previously participated in the media aspects of the project run by BRP co-Director, Gerry Twomey. So when the filming team arrived we were greeting a couple of friends.
One of the great strengths of Time Team is its ability to bring together a tremendous body of resources, together with some of the best experts in their field. This was the aspect that most appealed. Not just because of the expert opinion, which has proved to be both fascinating and informative, but because they came to us without too much familiarity of Bamburgh and that allowed us to see the site through fresh eyes.
Bamburgh is an extraordinary place, a natural rock fortress, occupied for thousands of years that has played a pivotal role in Northumbrian history. Publication of a sample of its archaeology, from turf to the bedrock, will take no little time to complete, it may even prove to be the work of a lifetime, but we believe it to be more than worth the effort. The archaeology is fascinating as well as rich and the landscape and setting are both glorious and dramatic, making it a great place to spend your summer. I very much hope that the episode captures something of the site's fascination and its sense of place and that you enjoy it. And if you are inspired to visit you will find North Northumberland, beautiful, unspoiled and friendly.