In 2019 we excavated an evaluation trench running downhill through a sequence of prehistoric agricultural terraces in the Breamish Valley, Northumberland. The terraces which we were investigating are one of only a handful in Britain which are well-preserved and have the ability to provide information about the technological capabilities of prehistoric communities during different climatic, economic and socio-political conditions. Results from previous excavations on the terraces indicate that they date to the Early Bronze Age but with the possibility of being even earlier.
Another aim of the project was to establish which types of crops were being grown here on this ‘marginal’ and relatively inhospitable part of the country. Additionally, we wanted to know whether they were being grown constantly as part of a permanent agricultural system, or whether the terraces were periodically abandoned and then reconstructed when the need arose.
By working with some of our partners from the University of Tromsø Museum and the Universities of Barcelona, York, Southampton, Salzberg, Milan, Louvain and Padua, we were able to extract organic soil matter, XRF, pOSL, phytolith and aDNA samples from four of the seven terraces identified during the excavations. We have also recovered charcoal samples which we will use to acquire dates for the construction and use of the terraces.
Make sure to keep checking back here as we post the results of this ground-breaking international project.
To visit the TerrACE Project website please click here. Alternatively, follow the progress of the project on its Facebook page here.