Part of the remit of The Gefrin Trust is to support, facilitate and pursue research on the Brian Hope- Taylor finds collection from the excavations, the Hope-Taylor archive currently housed largely with Historic Environment Scotland, and to set out a new research programme for the site and its associated collections.
In 2007-10 the Trust, in collaboration with the Department of Archaeology, Durham University, pursued a programme of experimental geophysical prospection on the site. The Till-Tweed gravels are fairly notorious for creating both acidic conditions and being fairly unsusceptible to various forms of geoprospection. During the winters of 2008-9 Sarah Semple (Durham University) and Alex Turner (University of Newcastle) undertook a resistivity survey on the fields to the north and south of the road that bisects the site.
The results were new and compelling, revealing a range of potential new structures that had hitherto not been identified by aerial photographic survey. Trial work using caesium gradiometry by Phil Howard of Durham University was less effective in revealing features, quite possibly due to poor magnetic susceptibility of the Milfield geology. The results from the survey are now published along with new data from infrared photography by Darren Oliver, a Durham undegraduate, conducted using a drone. Together these surveys confirm that new, as yet undated, features await further research and discovery.
Building on these new appraisals, in 2015 The Gefrin Trust held a stakeholder meeting to explore the potential for new research at Yeavering and in its environs. Over 25 regional and national experts came together to consider the potential of the site and its environs in terms of existing resources and future research areas. This meeting resulted in work by The Gefrin Trust and the Department of Archaeology at Durham University to draft and publish two major open access documents: a Yeavering Resource Assessment and a Yeavering Research Agenda. These two published documents are available here as a free resource.
Yeavering Resource Assessment
The Resource Assessment captures current understanding of the immediate site and its environs, defined by the full extent of the sand and gravel terrace that spans the east-west Wooler to Kirknewton road (Zone A) and also the hinterland (Zone B) defined by the watershed of Bowmont Water to the west and Wooler Water to the east.
To the south this zone includes Yeavering Bell and the rising slopes of the Cheviots, and to the north it stretches to the River Till. Click on the map thumbnail for a more detailed look at the map.
The document seeks to collate multivariate strands of data, assessing previous work and current understanding of the site and its surroundings across the prehistoric to historic eras and identifying potential gaps for future research. It has been prepared in the context of two research frameworks that either partially or wholly overlap with Zone B – The North East Regional Research Framework and An Archaeological Research Framework for Northumberland National Park and assembled in the context of the Scottish Archaeological Research Framework. It should be noted that all three are presently in the process of being either revised or augmented.
Yeavering Research Agenda
The Research Agenda responds to the Research Assessment and sets out the archaeological research and fieldwork potential of Yeavering and its hinterland. The primary aim in producing both the Research Assessment and a Research Agenda is to lay out a research framework for future field- and desk-based investigations and projects that seek to understand the site of Yeavering in long-term perspective and its relationship to archaeology of all periods within its immediate landscape and its wider hinterland.
The agenda is not prescriptive and should be open to revaluation and comment. It is designed as a guide to inform future lines of research and fieldwork, by The Gefrin Trust, and other researchers and stakeholders and to aid in the long-term management of the site and its resource.
In creating both documents, the authors and the Trust would like to thank those who read and contributed to the development of both publications: Peter Carne, Lee McFarlane, Paul Frodsham, Tim Gates, Chris Gerrard, Jo Kirton, Don O’Meara, Roger Miket, Andrew Millard, David Petts and Graeme Young. We are also particularly grateful for detailed comments from Ronan O’Donnell, Roger Miket, Al Oswald, and Clive Waddington, who provided extensive input and recommendations. Yeavering aerial image by B.A. Cosgrove.