Tuesday, 9 July 2013

End of Dig Wrap-up Part 4: In and Around Dunning

As with every SERF fieldschool, we aim to give our students a taste of as many archaeological techniques as possible alongside our main excavations. This year, our students had a full complement of projects which they could include in their portfolios, including walkover survey, geophysical survey, standing building survey, topographic survey and community outreach activities like the Dunning Big Dig. Here are some of the results from these projects, rounding out another superb SERF Project fieldschool in Dunning.

Topographic survey at Kincladie Wood Roman Camp

The upstanding north ramparts of a Roman temporary camp survive in Kincladie Wood on the edge of Dunning.
Relatively little is known about the Roman temporary marching camp at Dunning. The only upstanding remains are situated in Kincladie Wood and apart from some very small-scale excavations in the 1970s and 1990s, most of our evidence for the camp comes from aerial photography. This has been used to trace the perimeter of the fort enclosing an area of around 46 hectares, sufficient to hold an entire army of soldiers and their logistical support. The western entrance of the fort was revealed in advance of the construction of houses along Romangate, Dunning, and produced pottery from the middle of the second century AD. The Perth Road runs through a similar entrance on the north side of the fort. All the entrances are defended by a simple outwork or titulus bank and ditch.

Aerial and profile views of the Roman camp ramparts and titulus gate

The survey focused on the Kincladie Wood section of the defences, recording the main bank and ditch of the camp, as well as the surviving remains of the titulus bank and ditch beyond the northern entrance. At the west end of the rampart, the survey might suggest the beginning of the corner of the camp, in contrast to the plan which shows this in the field beyond. At the east end of the rampart, the survey may have just picked up the entrance before being cut by the road. An additional low bank to the south of the main rampart looks likely to be associated with drainage in the boggy area of woodland.

Much remains to be revealed about Dunning’s Roman camp: its date remains uncertain, part of its extent remains unknown, and there is no known evidence of activity in the interior associated with its use. Our survey of this part of the monument was a brief training exercise, but it re-opens these questions for future research.

Dunning Big Dig and Beyond

University of Toronto student Cait uncovers an early wall in a back garden in Dunning
This year's Big Dig was a series of events across the first two weeks of the fieldschool, beginning with the Wee Big Dig at Dunning Primary School and five days of test pitting in the back gardens of interested volunteers across the village. You can read more about the results at our Dunning Big Dig blog.

Loom weights neatly stacked against the wall of the abandoned Weaver's Cottage on Thimble Row
Two of the Big Dig test pits were kept open and extended for excavation in the third week by the SERF Project with the help of ACFA volunteers. One of these was in the Weaver's Cottage on Thimble Row, a unique survival from Dunning's heyday as a weaving trade hub. Further excavations here revealed more about the everyday life of weavers a century ago and beyond, plus evidence of earlier walls.

A section of the early medieval monastic enclosure or vallum ditch found in a back garden north of St Serf's
A test pit at Castle Cottage adjacent to Dunning Primary School, where a possibly early monastic vallum ditch was found and radiocarbon-dated to the 8th century in 2007, was extended across the garden and successfully located the vallum ditch in this area. This was not excavated but planned and surveyed in situ. This work shows that early medieval features still survive in the village and this will help us plan future excavations.

1 comment:

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