Exciting find for young archaeologists at Northumberland castle

Will Nicholson, left,  and Jack Young with the Edward I halfpenny.
Will Nicholson, left, and Jack Young with the Edward I halfpenny.

Young archaeologists struck silver when they dug into the past at a Northumberland castle.

Flodden Young Archaeologists’ Club joined the Flodden 1513 archaeology team at Wark Castle, where they were thrilled to unearth a hammered silver coin.

If you went near a hole, you would be covered in mud, everyone loved it.

Elizabeth Allis

The discovery was made by nine-year-old Will Nicholson while working alongside his friend Jack Young, also nine.

The coin has been identified as an Edward I halfpenny. Edward I, known as the Hammer of the Scots because of his involvement in the Scottish succession when he decided the competing claims of John Balliol and Robert Bruce to the Scottish Crown, was the first king to mint halfpennies, starting shortly after he came to the English throne in 1272.

Wark Castle was one of the most strategically important castles in the country, due to its location on the border, and was the scene of frequent skirmishes and sieges.

In 1513 it was one of the first castles captured by the James IV’s Scottish army before the Battle of Flodden. After Flodden, Wark Castle must have been quickly repaired by the English as a 1517 account showed it to be fully equipped and operational again.

Jane Miller, education officer for Flodden 1513 Ecomuseum, said: “We were delighted to join Chris Burgess and the Flodden 1513 archaeology team on their Wark Castle dig. During the morning we found lots of medieval pottery, animal bones and, at the very end of the morning, the coin. This exciting find was the icing on the cake.”

Elizabeth Allis, 12, from Lowick, said: “I was digging at the site where Wark Castle once stood in an area near the chapel where they would have thrown waste which is called a midden. This is where people would have thrown rubbish.

“I really enjoyed finding bits of medieval pottery and animal bones. My friend Will found a hammered silver coin, called a cross penny.

“If you went near a hole, you would be covered in mud, everyone loved it. My brother William loved troweling so much, it was extremely hard to get him away from the site when it was time to leave.”

The Flodden Young Archaeologists’ Club meets monthly at various sites across Northumberland and the Scottish Borders, taking part in a range of archaeological activities.

The next Flodden YAC meeting is on Saturday, June 13, at Ford Moss Colliery.