Arch of Constantine

The Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland

Latest News...


The Archaeology of Domestic Innovation in the Country House

Professor Marilyn Palmer Professor Emeritus, Leicester University

Saturday 20th July 2019
4.00pm Ritson Hall, Alington House, 4 North Bailey, Durham DH1 3ET

In 1978, Mark Girouard suggested that the abandoned lifestyles of past country houses could be disinterred from them in much the same way as from the layers of an archaeological dig. This talk will look at the research carried out in response to this statement in more than one hundred country houses, including innovations such as lighting, heating, sanitation, communications etc in the context of country house planning in the 18th and 19th centuries, (the lecture will be followed by a reception in the Durham Museum & Heritage Centre).

A Festival of Archaeology event, for more details see:

County Durham Archaeology Day 2019

Saturday 9th March 2019

9.50am - 4.00pm
Council Chamber and Durham Room,
County Hall, Durham

If you're interested in archaeology come along and find out more. Below is a list of the fascinating talks taking place:
  • Bishop Middleham Quarry Investigations, Rupert Lotherington, Archaeological Research Services.
  • A Late Roman Site at Symmetry Park, Darlington, Danni Floyd, Pre-Construct Archaeology.
  • Auckland Castle Excavations, Jamie Armstrong, Archaeological Services Durham University.
  • Binchester: Visitor Centre Improvements and 2018 excavation David Mason.
  • A Roman Settlement at Hurworth on Tees Matt Claydon, Archaeological Services Durham University.
  • Lady Seaham Pit, West Rainton, Scott Vance, Pre-Construct Archaeology.
  • News from the Portable Antiquities Scheme Ben Westwood, Finds Liaison Officer Durham and Tees.

Tickets go on sale at 10.00am on Monday 18th February at £16.00 per person (full-time students £12.00) to include buffet lunch and refreshments mid-morning and mid-afternoon. To book and pay for a place online follow and click Archaeology Day from the services listed or alternatively contact 03000 260 000 to book a place and pay over the phone.

There will be displays by local societies and archaeological contractors as well as bookstalls in the adjacent Durham Room. Parking is free.

Piercebridge Workshop

Archaeological Investigations at Piercebridge in 2017
Head of Steam Museum, Darlington

Wednesday 23rd January 2019, 10am to 3.00pm.

River Tees Rediscovered is a Landscape Partnership Project funded by the Heritage Lottery. The Poject covers the area of the River Tees from its mouth to Piercebridge. As part of this project Tees Archaeology is delivering a series of Community Archaeology Projects of which the investigations at Piercebridge were one.

The aim of the day is to report back on Archaeological Investigations that were carried out at Piercebridge in Summer 2017. You will also have an opportunity to view some of the finds and additional material that some of the speakers will bring along. There is no charge for the day, but numbers are limited to 45 due to the size of the venue therefore booking is essential. Lunch can be obtained in the café at the museum.

Download the Workshop booking form and email to: or post to Tees Archaeology, Sir William Gray House, Clarence Road, Hartlepool, TS24 8BT. Tel 01429 523455

Annual Research Grant 2018-19

The application process is now open for our annual research grant. If you are fully paid-up member of our society then you can apply for sums of up to a maximum of £500 for projects based within the North-East of England.

Click on the .pdf icon to download the research award guidelines document.


The Pilgrimage of Hadrian's Wall 2019

The next Pilgrimage will run from 20 to 28 July 2019, the first 4 days being based in Newcastle and the remainder in Carlisle. The Wall will be visited from South Shields on the North Sea to Maryport on the Solway. Pilgrims will travel in coaches between sites but there will be plenty of walking. The main themes of the tours will be the evidence for the building of the Wall and its later history in the third and fourth centuries. Eight experts on Hadrian's Wall will undertake the guiding.

For more information please contact: Ian Caruana, 10 Peter Street, Carlisle CA3 8QP. Tel 01228 544120 or email: or download the HWP20019 booking form

'Rescheduled lecture!!!'

Dere Street - the archaeology of a Border Road
by David Jones Honorary Secretary, Coquetdale Community Archaeology

Saturday 17th March 2018 (Rescheduled from 3rd March 2018).

The Border Roads are the relics of connections between England and Scotland that existed well before there was any concept of the two countries. Joining up with networks of lowland tracks that have often either disappeared or been subsumed by modern roads, they show how people negotiated the landscape for thousands of years. Dere Street is one such road. Although known primarily as a Roman route, along it there is archaeology that ranges from the Neolithic to the 20th century. We look at examples of this, provide background to previous research and - maybe - dispel some myths.

See for full details...

'Archaeology and the small finds of North-East England'

Friday 20 April 2018

A special one-day interdisciplinary conference held at the University of Durham Science Site

The Finds Research Group in conjunction with the Material and Visual Culture Research Group (Department of Archaeology, University of Durham), Council for British Archaeology North (CBA North) and the Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland present a special one-day interdisciplinary conference to be held in the historic city of Durham, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home of some of the finest medieval architecture in Europe.

The theme of the conference ‘Archaeology and the small finds of North-East England’ aims to highlight recent archaeological discoveries in the North-East of England – a sprawling region of beautiful countryside encompassing several major cities, towns, rivers and coastal ports. Steeped in history itself, Durham City will provide the perfect backdrop for a conference which brings leading academic experts across the disciplines of the Anglo-Saxon and Viking periods, medieval pilgrimage, late- and post-medieval material culture, conservation of artefacts, researching artefacts, community archaeology and museum exhibitions. Together they will explore the lives of the people who lived in the region through the weapons, traded goods, tools, household and everyday objects they left behind to be rediscovered as chance finds or in controlled archaeological excavations.

See for full details...

County Durham Archaeology Day 2018

Saturday 10 March 2018

9.45am - 4.15pm
Council Chamber and Durham Room,
County Hall, Durham

A series of talks about recent archaeological research and discoveries including:
  • Further research on the remains of the Scottish soldiers found at Palace Green.
  • Investigations at Auckland Castle.
  • A community excavation at Piercebridge Roman fort.
  • Historic Building Recording at 34, Saddler Street, Durham.
  • A new Roman military diploma from Lanchester

Tickets go on sale at 10.00am on Monday 19th February. At £16.00 per person to include buffet lunch and refreshments mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Students £12.00. To book and pay for a place online follow or alternatively telephone 03000 260 000 to book a place and pay over the phone.

There will be displays by local societies and archaeological contractors as well as bookstalls in the adjacent Durham Room. Parking is free.



Proposed Durham History Centre consultation.

You are invited to have your say on proposals for a new history centre for Durham.

Having considered a number of options Durham County Council proposes to seek a significant contribution of up to £4 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund towards the cost of a new history centre at Mount Oswald manor which would house the archive and Durham County Record Office, currently in County Hall, as well as other similar services across the county.

The proposal would creating a new wing to the manor house bringing together Durham's historic records, archives (and potentially other collections) in excellent environmental conditions to preserve, store and display collections for generations to come. It would allow space for over five miles of shelving for records held in the archives alone with space for growth into the future.

The collections would include:

  • Durham's 900 years of archives now stored in outdated and unsuitable facilities in County Hall
  • local history books and photographs
  • the historic archaeological and environmental records

The facility would also allow Durham County Council to think about housing other collections which are of great importance to Durham. One of these could be the Durham Light Infantry (DLI) Collection, offering a long-term home for the objects beyond their current five year arrangements.

Click on the .pdf icon to download the Durham History Centre relocation form.

For more information see: Proposed Durham History Centre consultation

Consultation will close on Sunday 18 February 2018.

Annual Research Grant 2017-18

Application process extended until 31st Januray 2018!!!

The application process is now open for our annual research grant. If you are fully paid-up member of our society then you can apply for sums of up to a maximum of £250 for projects based within the North-East of England. Click the .pdf icon to download the research award guidelines document.

Click on the .pdf icon to download the research award guidelines.

Hadrian’s Wall Archaeology Forum

Saturday October 21st 2017

At The Queen’s Hall, Beaumont Street, Hexham.

The Hadrian’s Wall Archaeology Forum is an annual day-conference featuring talks for the general public about new discoveries in the northern frontier zone including the Cumbrian coast. The subjects of this year’s talks include the ongoing excavations at Vindolanda, new investigations at Benwell and Piercebridge, the results of geophysical surveys at Netherby, and the discovery of a unique (for Britain) discharge diploma near Lanchester.

Click on the .pdf icon to download the information leaflet/flyer.

Evidence of early husbandry and gardening at Hornby Castle found!

Lead 'Montabon Peach' planting label found

A small exploratory trench, opened to try to locate the moat gatehouse at Hornby in the general location shown in the 1650 and 1765 plans was not able to locate it because of subsequent activity and the dense pattern of vegetation in the area. However, a lead planting label referring to a species of peach, possibly dating from the early as the 17th century, was found.

The Montablon peach would normally be ready in English gardens during the month of September. The fruit is described in John Laurence's (Rector of Bishop Wearmouth) 1727 guide 'A New System of Agriculture: Being a Complete Body of Husbandry and Gardening', as "one of the best peaches we have, being a beautiful, high-tasted, hardy, and never-failing bearer on a South-East or South-West Wall".

Curiously the holes you can see have been caused by someone shooting at it with a pistol or pistols. The owner in the early 17th century was one of the principal Royalist commanders in the North of England in the Civil War. It might well be connected.

For more information on our ongoing excavations at Hornby Castle, North Yorkshire, see: Hornby Castle Excavations


Following a limited reprint copies of 'Roman Piercebridge: Excavations by D W Harding and Peter Scott 1969-1981' are now available!
Edited by H E M Cool and D J P Mason

ISBN 978 0 9510388 57

This handsome 362-page hardbacked volume describes the results of the extensive excavations carried out by the late Peter Scott at Piercebridge in the 1970s which explored parts of the Roman fort, the adjacent civil settlement and the remains of a previously unsuspected bridge revealed during gravel extraction. It also includes a report on the excavation by Dr (now Professor) Dennis Harding of a villa at nearby Holme House, one of the most northerly in the whole of Britain. There are full accounts of the vast amount of pottery recovered along with the coins, metalwork, animal bone and high quality glassware. Thus, finally, there is what one hopes is a fitting testament to all the work done by Peter Scott, Dennis Harding and all their helpers.

AASDN Research Report - 7

£25.00 (£22 Members) + p&p

For details of how to purchase publications please email:


The Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland
Cannon Greenwell plaque

Canon Greenwell plaque.
Notable Durham antiquarian honoured

Good things are they say worth waiting for. Over half a century ago the Society considered marking both the life and former residence of Canon Greenwell, and the Society's centenary by the erection of a plaque on North Bailey in Durham. Sadly the good intentions came to nothing. As the 150th anniversary loomed a similar plan was devised and after much debate over wording, an application for listed building consent, gaining the approval of the building's owner (St.Cuthbert's Society to whom our thanks are extended), and the Estates and Buildings Department of the University, a plaque was cast and unveiled at our 150th AGM.

Now with a slight delay, the plaque has been fixed to the wall of 27 North Bailey as a hopefully permanent marker to a notable antiquarian, and the longevity of the Arch & Arch.

The Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland

Local Romano-Celtic deity
Exciting discovery at Binchester
Stone head of a local Romano-Celtic deity

Durham University archaeology student Alex Kirton has recovered a carved stone head which had been buried amongst late-Roman rubbish within what was probably a bath house. The sandstone head, dating from the Second or Third Century, is thought to have been worshipped as a source of inspiration and intercession.

The head, which is made of sandstone, was found in a dump of late Roman refuse that had been thrown into one of the rooms of a probable bath-house in the civilian settlement that lies outside the Roman fort at Binchester. This building was terraced into the hillside and all the rooms we've looked at have been filled with massive deposits consisting mainly of alternate layers of butchery waste and rough stone surfaces. These dumps are around 6' in depth. The head was part of one of these stone layers and as such is clearly not in its original context

Removal of the fill in the larger of the two chambers had revealed a blocked-up doorway in its north wall as well as a section of masonry on the east side which may represent the limits of the chamber on this side or possibly some internal feature. This fill also produced the object that has generated much media interest in the last week namely the small stone head seemingly representing a local Romano-Celtic deity. Carved in a style not unlike that of the head belonging to the life-size statue of Antenociticus found in his temple at Benwell this may represent a god local to Vinovia.

Perhaps the rest of the statue, and more importantly an inscribed base, may come out of the remaining fill! For more information and images see our Binchester Roman Fort webpage.

The Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland
HMS Trincomalee, Leda class frigate, launched in 1817

151st Annual General Meeting
Hartlepool Historic Quay

The 151st Annual General Meeting took place on 11th May 2013 at the Hartlepool Historic Quay home of the 1817 Frigate HMS Trincomalee. Belinda Burke took great delight to mentions in her Secretary’s Report that the society has gone from strength to strength since the last AGM.

The year began with the extended weekend excursion to Chester, expertly organised and led by David Mason, and it looks like these trips further afield are set to become a welcome addition to our annual calendar.

Again there was a full and varied programme of lectures, beginning with the fascinating presentation on the Gristhorpe Man Project by Janet Montgomery and Nigel Melton, complemented by a trip to Scarborough to visit the man himself. Andrew Millard continued in a scientific vein with his lecture on radiocarbon dating, to be followed by another successful joint meeting with the North East Ancient Egypt Society, and a return of the ever-popular Paul Bahn to talk about the archaeology of the Atacama Desert.

Coming closer to home for the Members Meeting before Christmas, Gary Bankhead enthralled us with finds from the River Wear while Adrian Green led us round Bishop Cosin’s library, where the Society was accustomed to meet in the days of Greenwell’s presidency

Here's to an action packed 2013!

The Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland
Roman Chester, David J.P. Mason

New book launched...

Roman Chester - Fortress At The Edge Of The World

David J.P. Mason

David Mason has been involved in the investigation of Chester’s archaeology in one capacity or another since the late 1960s. A member of the city council’s archaeology service for many years, he built up a particular expertise in Roman archaeology which he developed further with his doctoral thesis, subsequent research projects and various publications.

Since becoming County Archaeologist for County Durham in 2003 he has played an instrumental role in securing the publication of reports on the 1970s investigations at Piercebridge and Binchester Roman forts, initiated a new campaign of excavation at the second of these sites and also managed the preparation of a Research Framework for Hadrian’s Wall. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Archaeology, Durham University and is the former President of the Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham & Northumberland.

AASDN members can collect copies direct from David Mason at a discounted price of £15 if they call in to County Hall, Durham to collect (normally £18.99).

For further details of how to purchase Roman Chester - Fortress At The Edge Of The World, email: