Yeavering Archive: Discovery of the Site
This aerial photograph, taken in the exceptionally dry summer of 1949 by Dr J.K.S St Joseph, alerted archaeologists
to the presence of an important archaeological site at Yeavering. By 1951 an archaeologist, Brian Hope-Taylor,
examined this photograph in order to determine whether it might be the long lost remains of Ad Gefrin, an
Anglo-Saxon palace mentioned by Bede writing in the 8th century, but referring to earlier events that became the
Ecclesiastical History of the English People. Bede's description of the land around Yeavering fitted perfectly
with the site of this new discovery and soon preparations were underway to excavate the site and find out once and
for all if this was Ad Gefrin. But in 1952 a quarry started to destroy part of the site, and Hope-Taylor rushed to
record what he could. Fortunately, only part of the site was destroyed by the quarry and the rest went on to be
excavated by Hope-Taylor as originally planned.
Brian Hope-Taylor's excavations marked an important watershed in the development of archaeological techniques with
full area excavation and the careful identification of the many different phases of timber building. His report on
Yeavering was a thick volume of over 400 pages, now out of print. In it he presented a methodical account of the
discovery of the site, he rigorously cross referenced to many ancient documents and presented a well thought out
analysis and interpretation of his findings. Even today, archaeologists struggle to produce such comprehensive
reports on their findings. Sadly, Brian Hope-Taylor died in 2001. The loss to archaeology was immense.
Today Yeavering is in private ownership; a flat green field that betrays no sign of its ancient and noble past.
However, the site continues to excite research and interest to this day, both for its early medieval periods on which we have
focused and the earlier periods of site history.