The traces of the settlement that includes the grubenhaus excavated at New Bewick were discovered by John Kenneth Sinclair St Joseph and Norman McCord in 1970 thanks to aerial photography. The archaeological site is located not far from the upper River Till, about 27 km inland from the coastal area of Bamburgh. Only ten years later, a series of sub-rectangular cropmarks visible in the photographs were recognised by Colm O’Brien as possible indicators of early medieval sunken-featured buildings.

A small area of the settlement was finally excavated in 1986 under the scientific direction of Tim Gates and Colm O’Brien. The presence of a grubenhaus was confirmed and the results of the archaeological investigations were published in 1986 in a work that relates the cropmark at New Bewick certainly corresponding to a sunken-featured building with similar ones at Yeavering and Milfield, i.e. the sites identified with the villae regiae that Bede calls “Adgefrin” and “Maelmin”.

The fact that grubenhäuser in Britain belong to an architectural typology imported from the Continent between Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages remains unquestioned. Similar buildings are well documented, for example, in Ezinge and in the area between Silesia and the Netherlands. The presence of grubenhäuser in early medieval settlements from southern Britain to Northumberland is therefore associated to the direct influence of people arrived across the North Sea or descended from them.

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