Subsequent to permission being obtained from all the relevant landowners, Seaham Town Council arranged to have a general geo-physical survey carried out in the vicinity of Seaham Hall. This was undertaken by students of the Archeology Department at Durham University under the supervision of Professor Rosemary Cramp and Dr. Sarah Semple.
A report was subsequently presented to the Town Council on the findings of the Archaeological Team who have conducted survey work on land adjacent to St. Mary the Virgin Church. The team believe the site to be of particular interest as, from the style of architecture of the Church, it dated from the 8th century or earlier.
Using combined methods of resistivity, photographic, contour, gradiometry and radar, the survey produced some fascinating results. The procedures used involved electric currents being passed through the ground at various depths and a number of areas of high resistance were identified. High resistance areas are an indication of solid structures within the ground. Photographic results showed that a rectangular structure was present of approximately 3 metres by 4 metres in size. This indicates to the team that this may be an annex of an earlier church. A circular feature, with a diameter of five to six metres, was also indicated in another area, which possibly could be a burial mound with chamber. All the results taken by the other survey methods corroborated the findings.
The team, led by Dr. Sarah Semple of Durham University’s Archaeological Department, would like to continue working at the site and carry out a full digital survey of the area as a whole. This will involve scanning inside and outside the structures to give a detailed computerised image of the fabric. Exploration would also involve stripping off the turf to enable a scan to take place to find the tops of the features. The results would establish whether there is a second stone structure on the site and also what the nature of the circular structure could be. The team are also aware of a former building to the west of the church boundary which they also hope to explore further.
Obviously to continue with this work will require funding along with Diocesan approval, and if both are obtained, the archaeological team of three people would like to conduct a small scale excavation. This is dependent upon the success of the funding application and the Council will keep residents updated on any progress made.