Community effort to save historical heritage from sea

An excavated pot from the dig at Druridge Bay.
An excavated pot from the dig at Druridge Bay.

A major archaeological dig involving local schoolchildren, university students, community and youth groups, volunteers of all ages and specialists from around the UK started this week at Druridge Bay.

The Rescued from the Sea Community Archaeology Project, which began on Tuesday and runs until the end of August, has been made possible by a grant of £285,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and additional funding from UK Coal and the Coast and Lowlands LEADER programme.

It will investigate the fascinating but eroding prehistoric remains beneath the sand dunes on land owned and managed for wildlife by Northumberland County Council at the northern end of Druridge Bay and close to Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s Hauxley Nature Reserve.

The eight-week project, being led by the Trust and Archaeological Research Services Ltd, will investigate the fragile site, which includes the remains of a hunter-gatherer settlement dating back at least 8,000 years and a 4,000-year-old prehistoric cemetery.

The site is on what was once an upstanding piece of ground surrounded by marsh and wetland.

This ‘isle of the dead’ evidently had huge spiritual significance for the people who returned to the site for many years to lay their dead to rest in stone-lined graves, known as cists.

Mesolithic (middle stone age) remains, from when Low Hauxley was home to many families who lived off the natural resources from the seashore and land, have also been unearthed below the cemetery, along with humand and animal footprints and tools in a mesolithic peat on the foreshore.

For updates from the dig, visit www.nwt.org.uk/res cued-from-the-sea