Cresswell’s resident archaeologist Barry Mead is in the running to receive a prestigious national accolade in the subject he is most passionate about.
He has been shortlisted for the Council for British Archaeology’s Community Archaeologist of the Year award, which will be presented at its annual general meeting in York tomorrow (Friday).
After moving to the North East in 1995 with wife Jill, when he was appointed as Wansbeck Council’s museums’ officer, they have lived in Cresswell since 2009.
Barry has spent much of his spare time in the last nine years either giving local history talks or being involved in archaeological excavations around the county – including the Rescued from the Sea dig at the north end of Druridge Bay, which uncovered 10,000 years of history at the site in Low Hauxley near Amble.
He has also been involved with initiatives on Holy Island and closer to home, he is one of the inspirations behind an ambitious project to restore the Grade II* listed 15th Century Cresswell Pele Tower so that it can be removed from Historic England’s At Risk register and opened to the public as a visitor attraction.
Barry has been shortlisted for the award as a result of leading scores of volunteers, including local schoolchildren, in excavations around the pele tower site that have uncovered two Bronze Age burial kists, as well as countless pieces of flint, axe heads, Roman Iron Age sherds, stone tools and medieval ceramics.
He said: “Being shortlisted also recognises all the hard work of so many others who have contributed to the community archaeology pele tower project, which is proving to be such an outstanding success.”