I have been to Bamburgh on several occasions, but this was a rather special trip. The Bamburgh Research Project has been excavating at the Castle for several decades. The castle is very impressive – this is a lovely painting by my favourite artist, John Wilson Carmichael.
You can look at the Castle’s website, and at the Research Project’s website – and even read their blog. They have asked if the skeletons and bones they have excavated and studied could now be re-buried in the crypt of St Aidan’s church.
There are steps down into the Crypt, which is under the Chancel. The first chapel is rather atmospheric, with a lovely roof and a piscina at the east end. There are some interesting lumps of stones down here too.
There is then a small entrance to an inner crypt – so several of us crawled in. More interesting things here – I liked this piece of lead. With some clearing, this could be a very good resting place for those who have been excavated.
We asked if the archaeologists knew if the bones are of people who were Christian. We were told they have been dated from the mid C7 when Oswald was king of Northumbria and Bamburgh was the royal court. It is an amazing thought that these are the men and women who would have been ruled by him, and listened to Aidan and his monks when they came across from Iona to Lindisfarne. We were also told that the archaeologists measure Strontian levels in teeth and that can give them an idea where the people came from. Several of these men and women come from the Hebrides. As I said to a congregation in Ponteland, it is as if people in 3,500 AD were looking at our bones.
It was quite a morning. In the end the remains were all re-buried on 24 June 2016. May they rest in peace (again) and rise in glory.