Archaeology that’s helping to restore, reveal and celebrate life around the River Skerne

Discover Brightwater is an epic effort to restore, reveal and celebrate life around the little-known River Skerne, in County Durham. The river itself was named by the Vikings who once occupied the area; the word ‘skirr’ means bright and shining. Sadly, nobody since has given the area a catchy brand name like ‘the dales ‘ or ‘the lakes’… until now!

The name Brightwater (which is derived from the Viking name) was created as a way to bring together all the wildlife, historic sites, and beautiful things you can see and do when you visit the area, and turn it into a well-known ‘Destination’.

The work being done by Discover Brightwater is being made possible by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. As part of this effort to unite all the wonderful things the area has to offer, Discover Brightwater commissioned a series of archaeological investigations to reveal new details about ancient life along the river. And that’s where DigVentures comes in!

The team at Discover Brightwater wanted people to not only be able to see area’s archaeology, but to be part of discovering it too. So they asked us to assemble a team of people from all over the country who were curious about the region and its history, to invite them to unearth Brightwater’s lost history alongside our archaeologists, and to make all the discoveries available online.

Together, they wanted us to carry out excavations at five incredible archaeological sites at Brightwater, including East Park, Bishop Middleham, Carr Lands, Catkill Lane and Leg’s Cross. You can explore the results of each of these excavations, and see all the people who took part, by exploring this website…

Project Partners

Special thanks for conceiving and supporting the excavations also go to Durham County Council Archaeology Section and National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Durham County Council Archaeology Section are responsible for promoting the conservation, enhancement and understanding Durham’s distinctive historic environment, and it’s their team who conceived and designed the archaeological investigations within Discover Brightwater. It’s taken a lot of work over four years to get here, and we owe the team a huge thanks for their dedication, vision, and curiosity.

National Lottery Heritage Fund use money raised by players of the National Lottery to inspire, lead and resource the UK’s heritage to create positive and lasting change for people and communities, now and in the future. Discover Brightwater applied to them for funding, and it’s thanks to their support that the whole project is now happening.