In 1903, local archaeologist, historian, and naturalist David Dippie Dixon published Upper Coquetdale. In this handsome and beautifully illustrated book he introduced the archaeology of Rothbury and the Coquet valley to both a local and wider audience. To celebrate the centenary of this publication in 2003, Northumberland National Park Archaeologist Paul Frodsham presented a lecture on the archaeology of Upper Coquetdale and Rothbury, the home town of David Dippie Dixon.
Out of these two events, one hundred years apart, grew the Upper Coquetdale Community Archaeology Project.
Funded by the Park until 2008, Coquetdale Community Archaeology, as the group became, organises and carries out archaeological research and fieldwork into the archaeology of the Upper Coquet valley. We have developed a detailed research agenda to guide our work. Our interests are wide-ranging and compelling; they include
• A history of drinking in Coquetdale: looking at alcohol through the ages, including stills, breweries, pubs old and new, and smuggling.
• Abandoned places: studying deserted mediaeval settlements in Upper Coquetdale. Why did people leave them, and when?
• After the Ice Age: investigating the Mesolithic presence in the valley - the people that hunted and gathered in the area some 10,000 years ago.
• 20th century military archaeology - exploring the legacy of two world wars, pillboxes, training trenches, POW camps and, above all, people’s memories.
• Clennel Street and the Border Roads - studying not only the routes into the valley, but also the dykes, settlements and cairns associated with them.
We completed our major project the excavation of a medieval fulling mill on the River Coquet near Barrowburn, and have started a new project looking at the archaeology of the Border Roads. In conjunction with this we are working on two sites this summer in the Hepden Burn area. You can find the results of our previous fieldwork here