North Archaeology Dig Unearths Important Finds

Article excerpt

Byline: Tony Henderson Environment Editor tony.henderson@trinitymirror.com

APREHISTORIC wetland site which was a hive of human activity for at least 2,000 years has been uncovered by archaeologists in Northumberland. The Bradford Kaims site, near Bamburgh, was a series of shallow lakes connected by streams, which drained into Budle Bay.

Depending on the weather, the site is now wet pasture but the dry summer gave archaeologists from the Bamburgh Research Project a valuable opportunity to excavate part of the site.

They uncovered a wooden paddle, sitting on a brushwood platform, which dates from around 6,500 years ago at the start of the Neolithic period - the time of the very first farmers. The paddle and platform were next to a burnt mound - piles of stones which had been heated by fire.

These heated stones could have been used for a number of activities, from cooking and brewing to tanning, metal extraction, canoe making or even sweat lodges - the forerunner of saunas.

Four small artificial islands have also been found, made of stone rubble on wood foundations.

These may have been used to reach deeper water for the ritual offering of gifts, or as a base from which to set fish traps.

The Bradford Kaims Research Project has been backed by the Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage, and is partly staffed by volunteers. The project is now looking for funding so that the investigation can continue next year.

The paddle may have been from a canoe, or could have been a means of moving the heated stones.

Project co-director Paul Gething said: "This find is of national and potentially international signifi-cance and is extremely rare as the first such find of this date identi-fied in Europe."

Co-director Graeme Young said: "To find preserved organic material like this from this period is incredibly rare in Britain. …