What is ‘Archaeology’?
Archaeology’ or ‘archaeological remains’ can constitute anything that was created by human activity in the past. Thus material as diverse as flint tools found in the landscape through burial monuments, settlements, defended sites and farm buildings to whole landscapes is ‘archaeology’.
Archaeology provides the only information we have about human activity in the National Park prior to the Roman era, and what we know about later periods is greatly enhanced through archaeological research. Northumberland is justifiably famous for its unique Roman military heritage, but its prehistoric and medieval remains are in many ways just as important. Much of the National Park is of particular archaeological interest because large areas have not suffered from recent intensive development. This allows the examination of extensive landscapes rather than just isolated sites.
Some archaeological sites are clearly visible on the ground as earthworks (‘humps and bumps’) or as standing masonry, while others may be wholly or partly buried. Techniques such as ground penetrating radar, the geophysics so beloved of television programmes like ‘Time Team’, and aerial photography, are increasingly used to locate and examine buried sites without the need for expensive and destructive excavations. Nowadays, excavation is only considered when a site is threatened or where specific research aims are being addressed.
Various features on the farm may prove to be of archaeological interest, for example earthworks, old buildings, ruins, hedges, field walls, ancient woodland, hollow ways and quarries. In addition, certain natural sites, such as mires and peat bogs, contain preserved pollen grains and other remains which allow the reconstruction of ancient environments.