Brignall Geophysical Survey

County Durham

Client

Heart of Teesdale Landscape Partnership

Services

Geophysics

Community and outreach

Local volunteers joined a professional team of archaeologists from Northern Archaeological Associates Ltd (NAA) in a three-week archaeological investigation exploring the remains of the shrunken medieval village (SMV) of Brignall, near Greta Bridge, County Durham. The village lies south of the A66 and today comprises only a few houses dotted along the modern road to the west of the church of St Mary. However, the settlement was previously much larger. The Environment Agency LiDAR data provides some insight into the size of the medieval settlement, showing crofts and tofts spread out on either side of the road.

The project was commissioned by the Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland (ASSDN), as part of the work of the Heart of Teesdale Landscapes Partnership (HoTLP). The aim was to provide local people with the opportunity to gain first-hand experience and training in a range of archaeological field skills, including excavation, geophysical survey, site photography, planning and recording, environmental sampling, and some post-excavation finds processing. It included an initial phase of geophysical and desk-based survey, followed by the excavation of two evaluation trenches.

The non-invasive assessment works proved crucial to the success of the project. Through geophysical survey, it was possible to assess the location and extent of buried remains associated with Brignall SMV that could be targeted with excavation. Furthermore, the results of the geophysical survey revealed evidence of prehistoric settlement activity, including sub-circular anomalies that were proven through excavation to relate to enclosures associated with a settlement of late Iron Age or Roman date.

"Through geophysical survey, it was possible to assess the location and extent of buried remains associated with Brignall Shrunken Medieval Village that could be targeted with excavation."

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