TillVAS Till Valley Archaeological Society TillVAS             Till Valley Archaeological Society



Welcome to the website of the Till Valley Archaeological Society (TillVAS).



The Society's core aim is 'To encourage and promote the study of the archaeology, heritage and history of the catchment area of the River Till.' 


We would like to share with you our interest in and enthusiasm for, everything to do with the history of the Till Valley and its river catchment, in north Northumberland. However, we are not averse to straying into other areas of the Border lands when it suits us to do so!


< Please click on the tabs on the top left-hand side of this page to learn about the Society and its activities.


The website has a dual purpose:-

Firstly, we wish to reach as wide an audience as possible so that, hopefully, those interested will want to attend meetings, excursions, archaeological 'digs', field walking and social occasions and become members of the Society.

Secondly, the intention is to keep members up-to-date with all the latest news and to inform them on what has happened, what is happening and what is planned for the future.

The Till Valley in north Northumberland, UK, is rich in history and archaeological sites. It is also an attractive and varied landscape. The River Till rises high up in the Cheviot Hills and is named the River Breamish in its upper reaches, becoming the River Till at Bewick Mill. It is a major tributary of the River Tweed and, unlike other tributaries, its course lies entirely in England. It is a long river, perhaps 40 miles, although it is difficult to be precise because of its many twists and turns before it finally flows into the River Tweed at Tillmouth.



© The photo shows the River Till, looking south from Twizel Bridge.

We are pleased to receive feedback with comments or suggestions about the Society's activities. Please use the Contact Page and we will get back to you.

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© TillVAS


APRIL 2014

Many thanks to the six volunteers who came along to the TillVAS store at Etal on 17th April in order to wash the equipment that had become so muddy after the excavations at Wark Castle. At first sight, it seemed to be a daunting task but they got straight on to it and completed the job just after lunch. It is essential to keep all the equipment in good condition and to prevent the risk of soil contamination on the next excavations at Flodden starting at the end of May (details to be announced).

Please see the Publications page for an update on the Andrew Todd story.

Flodden1513 Artefact Handling and Identification Course

15 members of TillVAS, Coquetdale Community Archaeology, together with other archaeology enthusiasts, attended a very successful two-day course at Etal on 11th and 12th April. Jenny Vaughan and John Nolan gave detailed instruction on ceramic building materials, lots and lots of pottery, metalwork, clay pipe, glass, stone, bone and organics. There were plenty of handling sessions and much discussion and participants went away with the feeling that, whilst recognising their limitations as non-professional volunteers, they were better equipped to recognise or distinguish between artefacts that they might come across during field-walking or on excavations.



Members are reminded that the annual subscription of £10 is due on 1st April. Please send it to the Membership Secretary, Alan Urwin (address and other details shown on the Officers and Committee web-page). 


Membership cards with details of meetings and events are sent to members after renewal of their subscription.


The Committee was pleased and encouraged by the attendance of members at the AGM. Quite apart from the routine business of the meeting, there was due recognition given to all the work carried out during the last three years by our founding chairman, Heather Pentland. Without her drive and commitment there would be no TillVAS and members (and particularly the new chairman) were pleased (and in his case, relieved!) that she has agreed to continue to be a member of committee.

The meeting also agreed with the committee's recommendation that Honorary Membership should be awarded to John Nolan, Jenny Vaughan and Linda Bankier. We are very grateful for all the help, support and advice that they have given to the Society over the last three years. Our Honorary President, Chris Burgess, is, of course, also an Honorary Member.

Afterwards, it seemed to be a record turnout for Richard Carlton's talk on the Drove Roads of Northumberland—many thanks to Richard, particularly as he was 'on duty' again the following morning to lead the dig at Wark.


There was good support from TillVAS members who worked in the four trenches. Trench 5 was opened on 7th April in order to give a training opportunity to the BP Scout Group from Branxton. A special thank you to the very few (five?) who were there to the end on the last day in order to close down the trenches. A marathon effort and they must have really felt some aches and pains the next day. See the Photograph Gallery for a flavour of what went on. 


On 5th April, John Nolan conducted members around the immediate grounds of the castle, pointing out the site of the medieval village and the layout of the old roads. An external description of the castle and the phases of construction preceded a fascinating tour of the interior. It is to be hoped that, one day, the ruined and abandoned building may be at least partially restored and that it may be brought back into some sort of use. The Society is grateful to John for imparting some of his detailed knowledge of the castle and for enabling members to have the opportunity to see inside and out.