Thursday 25 August 2011

Day 20- Castle Craig

Hi Christina here, student at Glasgow University. The time has come to pack up the site. Today is all about back-filling what we have managed to dig in the past 3 weeks, although we are able to leave the entrance way open as it will be used as the report is written up next week.
All the hard work has reaped its rewards, we have managed to find both the inner and outer walls, the entrance, an intramural chamber and many exciting finds within the walls of the structure on top of our hill.
But all good things must come to an end and the excavation was no exception. Hopefully we will be granted permission to revisit the site in the future if we recieve further funding for the project. There is still so much to learn from this site and information which is still waiting to be uncovered and that could give us amazing insight into the lowland hillforts and brochs in the area.
Until next time!

Day 19-Castle Craig

Hello, Eva here again! I have been working at the hillfort for a while now after having been at Forteviot for the beginning of the dig. There wasn't much digging going on today, since there are not many days left and there is still so much recording to do, mainly section drawing and post-ex planning.
Steven, Christina, Dawn, Tessi, Collette, Cameron, Joss, Claire, Jennifer and I were all quietly sitting in our trenches with our drawing boards.
A nice addition to the day was a visit from 'Flying Scotscam'. This is a small remote-controlled flying device operated from the ground with a camera attatched which can take pictures of the site from an aerial perspective. It was quite the spectacle and after the camcopter had landed to much cheering and applause.
After a day of hard work the recording is nearly all completed, which is a good job as we begin backfilling tomorrow!

Day 18- Ben Effrey Hillfort

Apologies for the delay but here are the final installments for the blog from the hillforts, Enjoy!

Day 18
Greetings from Tom at the high hillfort! Nearly there!  Our lovely trench or 'Jeffrey' as he affectionately come to be known as, as it rhymes with 'Ben Effrey' gives us the namesake of 'Team Jeffrey'. Today we gained a new member, Jamie, who joined us from the main site at Forteviot and was very helpful in rolling a boulder downhill with us. The boulder was duly named Bob.
Cathy also found an enormous lump of slag which was wrapped in cellophane and originally christened 'baby slag' as you could carry it like a baby.
I hit natural underneath rampart 2 after a solid mornings mattocking. Cleared, photographed and started drawing the section. Tessa has also found the bottom of the rampart 1 and evidence for a wooden palisade. Go Team Jeffrey!

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Finishing up in the Churchyard

Friday 19/08/11

Hi there, I'm Andy. I'm kinda the homeless wastrel of SERF and have been

floating around ever since the Paddock trench got closed down a week ago. At
the moment I've been adopted by Meggen and the Churchyard posse who are
excavating around the eastern wall of the church. As you can see from the
pics below they have uncovered some really interesting features and it is
looking like we may be able to get a date for the earliest structure that
has been uncovered in the very near future.

As tomorrow is the last day of the project today has been a day of recording
at break neck speeds. Marco and Carol have done a sterling job of
surveying and recording the features that have been excavated along the
church wall with the different layers of building foundations. Nicola and
Paul have been finishing wee bits of work that needed doing and hastily
recording all that they can. Scotty has been busy in his teensy trench at
the northern most edge of the excavation drawing and carefully recording the
relationships between the different deposits of soil, stone and other
material that will allow us to create a narrative for this site from the
medieval period up to today. Whilst Meggen has been somehow turning all this
frenetic activity into a well oiled archaeological machine.

Recording of the stonework under the church

A lot of frantic digging and recording to finish on time

It wasn't all about recording today though. Over the course of the excavation many disarticulated human remains were discovered at the southernmost corner of the church, having been most likely moved there

during the construction of the church that is standing today. We also came across a number of unmarked burials from the medieval period. We felt that we had to reinter these remains in as dignified manner as possible. To this end I spent the morning constructing a cist to receive the remains and at midday the Reverend J Bruce Thomson gave a short service and committed the remains back to the earth from which they had been disturbed.

Stone cist awaiting it's contents
It was a tranquil and peaceful time with the majority of people working on the Forteviot dig present as well as a number of the local laity. After the reverend had gone however we were swiftly back to work racing against the clock, and seemingly against impending rain, to get everything recorded. As quickly as we measured and drew, and plotted and recorded however we were beaten by the clock, and a lot of hungry bellies. While we all headed back to base camp for tea Meggen stayed on valiantly working on getting the trench ready to be closed. As I write this people have headed back to work into the failing light so that we can build as full and rounded a picture of this part of Forteviot and Strathern as possible.

There is such good evidence for activity in this region stretching from the
Neolithic right through to the modern day that our understanding of this
area is extremely important if we are to fully understand Scotland and the
north of Britain and how it came to be as it is today.

Well it is nearly the end of this season's dig and we have a whole load of
data and finds to get analysing before we can get back to you with the
results of our work here over the last five years. I say 'our' work and by
that I mean all the staff of the SERF project, the students, both
undergraduate and postgraduate, of Glasgow and Aberdeen universities as well
as the students from farther afield and volunteers from a more local...context ;)

Here's to another five years of SERF and to the future of the past in

Saturday 20/08/11

Final day in the Churchyard today. Adrian's trench was all finished yesterday with the final recording of the many early medieval gravecuts completed and samples taken that will hopefully allow us to get some dating evidence for these graves. Today was all about the backfilling and thanks to a monumental effort from the churchyard team and their extended group of helpers this was all finished by early mean feat considering this was the largest and deepest trench dug in Forteviot.

 The 'big' trench with its gravecuts and postholes

Trench dancing!
Over by the church there was still much frantic recording ongoing...just too many interesting features in this trench. Under the church building we have uncovered many different courses and types of stone foundations. Some are re-used earlier stone for the foundation of the present church building with others being possibly even older in-situ foundations for a medieval building. There is also evidence of a small structure that came out from the east end of the church with clay bonded walls. What this may have been has been the topic of much intellectual debate leading to one senior site director taking a mattock to the wall to establish that the structure was in fact an add on to the building. All of this was being done while still trying to record and clean up the area for final photographs but never the less we persevered and finished up by late afternoon, leading to an all hands on deck backfilling session which was completed in a record couple of hours before a well deserved end of dig BBQ back at Strathallan.

Final look at the church trench with all of it's complicated stratigraphy
Well done to all the Churchyard team over the last 3 weeks!


Final day at Haly Hill

Haly Hill, 20th August

Well here we are already on our last full day on site at Haly Hill! Time flies when you're having fun they say, and I think we've definitely had a great three weeks here.

Today was a quiet day on site - with most of the team off helping in the epic backfilling efforts at the other trenches, there were only four of us here. With most of the excavation finished, today was a day for finishing off our careful recording of the site. We were all kept busy with drawing, planning, measuring, levelling, context sheets and photography.

And what fantastic archaeology we have to record! At the end of our dig here, we've found out so much about the story of Haly Hill. To summarise: in trench 4, we were able to see how the longhouse recorded on the first edition maps of the site had been altered over the years, being plastered, then rebuilt into a smaller roughcast cottage, complete with the fireplace we found - grate and all. We can see the whole history of the house, right up to when it burnt down. From trench 1, we can even see that the trackway running along the end of the house was rebuilt 2 or 3 times. Trench 2 told us an equally interesting story. Having dug down through what appears to have been the floor of a byre, we found that this building had previously been used as a smithy, judging from the copious amounts of metalworking slag and iron objects we found. Continuing our excavations below this however, we discovered a surface which may be the disturbed floor of an earlier building - complete with pivot stone for the hinge of a door. The pottery we found suggests this may be a seventeenth-century structure.
So it's been a busy and fascinating time here at Haly Hill - made even better by a team of cheerful and enthusiastic students. And so, with the return of the heroic backfillers from the other trenches, off we go to end the day with a well-deserved celebratory barbecue!

Haly Hill site

Fireplace feature from the building in trench 4

Some nice paved flooring

Thursday 18 August 2011

Day 17 Castle Craig

Hello Marco here, I have often heard people saying that there is no good weather for excavations. Well, first day excavating at SERF this year on Castle Craig hillfort and it was near perfect, apart from a few drops of rain around noon.

Work went well and the find of the day was undoubtedly a blackened stone vessel with a handle and rim decoration along with some other goods and much evidence of burning. This was found in the entrance way to the structure on top of the hill, hidden under a large slab of stone. A great day to begin, I hope that the rest of my time here proves as interesting and that the sun keeps shining!

Day 16- Castle Craig Hillfort

Day 16 Castle Craig Hillfort

Greetings and salutations to all and sundry on what may be regarded as a monumental day at this years SERF project! My name is Cameron and I am a 3rd Year student at the University of Glasgow...but enough of inconsequential details like that! Today Castle Craig Hillfort yielded not one but several spectacular finds from the ample trench. Not even poor weather conditions could dampen our spirits, which were dazzled by the finds.

Firstly Christina, A new edition to ‘Team Awesome’, as we have come to be referred to, found a 10cm bronze pin. Shaped to a point at one end and a hole at the thicker end, it has been speculated that the artefact could have been part of a Pejanular Brooch. Unfortunately, no other evidence was found to corroborate this as of yet, but it would be fair to say this proved a rather exciting first day on site for Christina!

Could this day get any better i hear you ask. It only took half an hour. It seemed I had only just returned to the mine shaft im digging, when I was excitedly summoned to the summit of the hillfort again..

Throughout the day there were many other finds, lots of recording was required and excitement was running high on the trench. For one and all a memorable day at Castle Craig.

Apologies for the lack of photos in the past few days, the uploading does not seem to be working but hopefully this will be sorted soon!!

Day 18 - Haly Hill

Hello bloggers from Strathallan! My name is Luis, I'm a Spanish student and I'm going to tell you how today was working in the Haly Hill trenches. During the morning most of us were drawing plans. It was a bit tricky but we managed to do it fine thanks to Rebecca and Kevin, they supervised and helped us all the way through. Apart from that the digs in Trench 2 and 4 (the farms of the 18th century) were going on yet we didn't find anything really interesting. Instead we focused on measuring levels and taking pictures. I think that we wont be able to do anything more significant to the project. Time flies and the day after tomorrow is the end of the dig.

This afternoon was a more relaxed part of the day due to the rain. It was so hard and we had to stop and spend part of the time in the Forteviot village hall.

Definitely days are starting to be different. It seems that everything has a farewell atmosphere. I can't believe that the 3 weeks of excavation are almost finished. It was a great experience that I'm sure we will not forget.

 Bye to everybody!!!

Planning, planning and more planning!

Who knew levelling was so much fun!

Wednesday 17 August 2011

Day 17 – Churchyard

Hello, Stuart here to fill you in on activities in the churchyard trench. Things got off to a bad start today as our self-elected leader Trish had gone AWOL again. Fortunately Adrian was able to deputise adequately until she returned after the tea break to sort things out.

After many days of what seemed like fruitless digging we are now actually down to some interesting archaeology. Maybe not quite as interesting as the Roman pot found the other day, but still, better than nothing. We are currently in the process of excavating several potential early medieval graves. One of which is almost definitely a grave as Ron found teeth and other bone in his feature where the head would have been. Postholes around the graves have also been uncovered which may be related.

In the North half of the trench we have found a feature which Adrian is “99%” sure is a pictish round barrow, but he has been wrong before…more than once. There is a grave on the north side of the barrow that cuts into a possible prehistoric feature. So finally the trench is beginning to look exciting.
Ron and Adrian excavating out some of the graves

Day 16 – Haly Hill

Hi my name is Juan from Spain and I have been excavating today in the Haly Hill trenches. We are getting into a really old context, possibly medieval. This is really exciting because it is the closest we can get to Kenneth MacAlpin’s Palace. It has been really interesting as well because the metallic tool we found in Trench 2 has been identified as a scythe. I found particularly funny the fact that I had to draw two plans and I hate drawing plans. It has been ironic that I found a nail that was recorded as a small find but other things that I found which I thought were more interesting haven’t received the same attention.

Day 14 - Open Day

Hi everyone, I’m Joss, here to fill you in on today’s events at the SERF open day in Forteviot. This event proves popular every year, and 2011 was no exception.

Once everyone was briefed on the plan for the day, we started setting up the trenches and village hall, ready for visitors. We had various finds from this year and previous years on display, with students on hand to answer any questions. The Women’s Institute were there to serve coffee, and strawberries and cream fresh from Dunning. My family were among the first visitors to arrive, so I gave them a ‘test run’ of the guided tour. Other students in each trench helped me out with any questions asked. When we returned to the hall, it was busy with more visitors.

I took my family to Castle Craig, the site I have been digging. Other members of the hillfort team brought their friends and family too. Everyone was shown round the various features of this dramatic site, and Heather showed us an exciting new find; a suspected Iron Age oil lamp! Just as we arrived, Tessa produced a fragment of quern stone from the main trench. Once everyone was shown round the site, we headed back to Forteviot. It was near the end of the day, but a few more visitors were looking for a tour. Danny, Cameron and I showed them around the trenches in the village. When the open day ended, we had a SERF barbeque behind the village hall, in the great Scottish sun. A fantastic end to another fantastic day on the field school!

Day 13 at Ben Effrey.

Daniel here representing Team Jeffrey, a power of work has been done up the hill since the last blog entry from us.

Vlad was missing from the team so it was just Adriana, Cathy, Tessa, Tom and I.

I was working on the back from the ditch. Trying to uncover the bottom layer of soil, going through the slope up to the ditch. I would call it a lesson in power mattocking!

Adriana was half excavation planning the bottom and middle ramparts, with Tessa and Cathy taking a section through the middle rampart, moving a sizeable amount of stone!

Tom was uncovering some more stone at the top rampart, uncovering a level of clay soil which we think could connect through a line of stone behind the top rampart.

Best news of the day came from the area Cathy was working, uncovering a large portion of slag, so we could possibly have an iron smelt, or more likely a domestic hearth. Find No. 3, delighted

We had an impromptu tour of the site today for a group of hill walkers, who had seen the geophysical survey being done, so it was nice for some outside eyes to see Jeffrey, and the power of work we have done. Hope to see some of you up the hill, laters!

The Last Day on the Manse Trench! (17.08.11)

Hi Lewis here. And so, as a new day dawns on Forteviota drastic improvement in the weather and our spirits brought a pleasant return to work on the tench at the Manse. For myself, having just returned to Forteviot for the final work, the extension to the trench wrought no rewards. No structures, features or finds arose. However, as the final stages of excavation are readied work continues.

Fiona set about excavating a small post hole and sought to reveal the exact character of the pit containing metal working debris. Robbie and Ewan lifted part of the wall and all the paving  to seek what lies underneath.

Although thus far no substantial or enlightening evidence has arisen today, as ever and as the last few days of the 2011 season of the SERF project continue no doubt a few surprises remain to be uncovered. 

Update! The excavation of the Manse trench has today finished with no new finds. Tomorrow it will be back filled and our best efforts made to return the Manse lawn to normal.

Saturday 13 August 2011

Day 13 - Churchyard

Hi , Trish here from the churchyard trench,  I’m back to work after poor weather and walkover survey kept me away . Its not a moment too soon either cos they don’t seem to know what to do without me. So, Cats been working on what still looks to be a grave, Ildy and me were working on opposite ends of what we thought to be a related feature . Guess what , turns out its not! We were thinking possible foundations of a timber building, now looks more like postholes.  Meanwhile we put Adrian in a little hole up at the top end with a bucket and a spoon and he was happy as Larry.

Archaeologists utilise all sorts of tools!

When he did make a fuss we threw him something to eat and he was placated.  The North west step had to go its getting in the way of some features  so that kept Ron busy for a bit.  Unfortunately the loss of the expertly crafted  “Scotts Stairs “ has now left us with only the poorly thrown together mud pile of Kenny and Adrian as our only means of escape. Things could get very difficult.  Most of the rest of the day was spent taking photographs and recording and getting ready for the open day tomorrow.
Trowelling over the trench

Day 12-Castle Craig Hillfort

Hi there,

My name is Tessi and as most others here I study Archaeology at Glasgow University.

Today marked another exciting day at Castle Craig. The weather oddly did not conform to the forecast which had predicted rain. All we had to deal with was a light drizzle – and that we can do. Especially after the short trip to Trespass yesterday.

I was placed in the trench with the suspected inner wall of the structure. Claire was with me and we had the mission to bring the area in front of it to a level with the rest of the trench. It was a very satisfying experience to work around a clearly defined structure and both of us were determined to finish the task by the end of the day.

We soon noticed a slight but perfect curve to the wall which Heather used to look for a potential centre of the structure. It thankfully missed the spoil heap by a few meters! A helpful discovery when thinking about the next few steps in the excavation. The others have found a few big stones in Trench 2 which have appeared under a layer of charcoal rich soil. This should be interesting and I hope it will turn out to be another lovely part of the wall. Fingers crossed.

Tomorrow, we will also clear away some of the huge stones in front of our inner wall and we are anticipating it. A simple surface would suffice to make me happy, I think... treasure of some kind is of course also always appreciated.

People are already whispering about what lies beneath our feet – but it has not been branded yet. There is still plenty of room for surprises and contradictions. As always.

Friday 12 August 2011

Day 12 - Churchyard

Hi, Nicola here again for an update on what's been happening in the Church trench over the last few days. Unfortunately the weather's not been kind to us so we've not been able to spend as much time on site as we would like but despite this we've made quite a lot of progress at the Church. The flagstones that we had found last week are reckoned to be the foundations for the stairway to a Laird's Loft that was situated at the East end of the present Church building before renovations in the 19th Century. These stair foundations were filled in with a lot of sandstone and mortar rubble that has at last now all been removed. Much blood, sweat and tears were used up in moving some of the larger stones! Getting rid of all this rubble has allowed us to see the wall of an earlier church building with a very nice plinth (angled stone layer) which is a feature of medieval churches. There has been a lot of excitement all round at finding this and even more so when we continued down and found that there are more courses of masonry underneath the plinth level which would have been underground when the church building was standing...crypt possibly?! That would probably be to much to ask for, however, near the end of today we did get down far enough to find what may possibly be a layer of mortared stone from an even earlier building. Tomorrow will hopefully bring answers as to what these stones are so watch this space!
The plinth and wall of an earlier church building appearing

Day 12 - Haly Hill

I'm Steven and I've been at Haly Hill since the start. Today's weather has allowed us to make substantial progress here. Trench 4 is where it's all happening today. I've been cleaning up the suspected Drain at the byre end of the building. But, the real action is in the interior where a hearth has been clearly identified. There is an obvious hearth-stone sitting on a lot of burnt wood remains, which is presumably the remains of a wooden floor surface, but could also be whats left of a wooden roof which burned and fell into the building.

Cleaning back around the hearth

The trenches at Haly Hill continue to be a hot-spot for local wildlife, with a frog in the trench this morning to add to the hedgehogs of last week. Proving that the attentions of both man and beast are clearly focussed on Haly Hill (where all the real archaeology is taking place!)
House structure in trench 4

Day 7 - The Village Hall

                                             Keen Drawers: Justine, Tom and Leanne.

Fiona again! Today found all the students crammed into the village hall due to heavy rain and flood warnings which made the trenches unworkable. However we didn't sit about doing nothing. This awful weather gave us the chance to catch up on processing the finds that had been accumulating in the finds tent during the week. Most students were given the chance to get hands on with the finds by cleaning them under Phd student Allsion's supervison. Other acticities included photography and i handled the drawing practice. Prof. Steven Driscoll also organised a trip to see the famous Duplin Cross for those who hadn't. It was a nice relaxing day inside after lots of heavy work in the outdoors during the week!

Day 6 - The Manse

                                                In photo: Fiona, Prof. Brown and Eva.

Hi - Fiona here again! I'm now helping to supervise on the Manse trench and today proved to be a successful one with two pieces of medieval pottery found in the latest context and what appears to be the remains of a bowl furnace which would most likely have been used in medieval smith work. As the trench gets deeper our wall is now clearly more substansial and may hopefully prove to be more than a 'HaHa.' We also had a visit from Glasgow University's Proffesor of Scottish History, David Broun who was keen to see field archaeology in practice and have a go himself.

In photo: Eva keeps at the mattocking while Ewan sets up a site grid for planning the position of our finds.

Thursday 11 August 2011

Day 10- Craig Castle Hillfort

Hi my name is Claire, I am a 3rd year student at Glasgow University. First day back on the hill after a couple of days and things have changed a lot. The rain was pouring down from the start of the day but we got off to a good start with a pep talk from the trench supervisor, Heather.

We had a new addition to the trench, Andy and everyone else was back in full force and back to their individual areas on at the site. The outer wall of the building feature in Trench 1 is appearing nicely which I find particularly exciting as I did the pre-ex plan and we were sure we could see something visible even then.

I was put into the corner area mattocking to bring it down to the same level. Spirits were low before tea break as everyone was soaked to the skin, I also felt like I was not making much progress and all that was keeping me going was the thought of the Mars Bar in my pocket!

Tea break saw us all squeezed into the tent, Charlie had brought some treats and everyones spirits rose. Heather made the decision that we should throw in the trowel at lunchtime so we all felt we should try our hardest for the last bit. As we appeared from the tent the high hillfort crew arrived with reinforcements. Tessa jumped into my trench and got to work straight away on mattocking. As we took the stale tumble off the site it gave new life to the excavations and a picture of what used to stand here became revealed.

Although some people wanted to stay longer the decision had been made to break at lunch, and as we know in Scotland a verbal contract is legally binding! We also found out that our team of diggers had successfully stayed out the longest, congratulations everyone!

Day 10

Hi, I'm Lesley and I am studying History and Archaeology at Glasgow University. I began my day at Haly Hill by helping to dig up the new extension to Trench 4. However, I was only there for about five minutes as Professor Driscoll gave us the choice of digging at Trench 4 or to go and start processing finds. It took me about a second to decide to go and process finds because you have to process finds in the village hall and today it was pouring down outside! Happy at the thought of not having my fingers fall off because of the cold, I headed to the village hall by myself where I spent the rest of the day washing the finds. My choice of leaving for the village hall seemed to have been the right choice as by the first tea break everybody came back soaking. It was then decided that for the rest of the day everybody was to process the finds at the village hall because the rain was not going to stop, and the trenches were now becoming pools. We had fun processing the finds, as the picture below shows, and it gave us a chance to see what all the trenches were finding. Today a piece of neolithic flint was found at the Manse, so tomorrow we will hopefully discover something just as old.
Washing finds in the comfort of the dry, warm village hall
Day 9-Ben Effrey

Hi my name is Vlad, I am a foreign exchange student from Romania. Today was beautiful and sunny outside, with the long awaited warmth, some breeze and no traces of rain – a bit for everyone, really. Team Effrey (or occasionally Jeffrey), consisting of Tessa, Cathy, Tom, Vlad, Dan and Adriana (who was absent today because of field walking duties) along with Lorraine, made its glorious entry in the hillfort after a 20 minutes climb in a mesmerizing landscape. The sheep had taken advantage of our empty site in the past two days and rudely left their characteristic marks all over. Despite this we set off to work right away.

Unfortunately we didn’t have any finds today – it’s not that we are unluckier than everybody else, just that the site we are digging is prehistoric, you know, so it is likely to be more than one-metre deep to reach traces of human presence from the Iron Age. While Lorraine and Cathy were doing the topographic survey of the site, the rest of us mattocked and towelled in different parts of the trench in order to uncover the three ramparts of the fort and also record the development of the site over time (tumbled stones, reason for abandonment, possible destruction etc.). Around noon, we had three visitors – a father with his two small sons – who were passing by and were curious to find out our mission up there. Hmm apart from that there were no other notable events, but we don’t need any in order to enjoy ourselves while trying to bring a great contribution to our archaeological project :-)

Day 9

Appologies for the lack of posts over the last few days...technical problems!

In the Churchyard
Hi my name is Ron and I’m in the Churchyard again today.  We began with a power-trowel of the spoil created by the rain and removing the bulk.  After some discussion (and a brief interruption to go move some heavy paving stones over by the church) it was decided that the second half of the trench would be opened after tea-break.  Removing the soil from the rest of the trench took the rest of the day, and it was fairly arduous, but we finished in the end. I'm rather proud of how much soil we shifted in the course of only a few hours. Tomorrow, we will give it a light trowel and hopefully the features we were expecting to find (Adrian's Ditch, and a few other places that seem to be sort of regular cuts) will be there.

Pondering the 'Big Trench'

Saturday 6 August 2011

Day 6 - Haly Hill

Hi all, Kayleigh here reporting for Haly Hill, which got off to a great start on day 6 with the sun splitting the sky. First on the agenda was an extension to Trench 4 (which now holds a fantastic cobble floor). The boys took the hard job of troweling some stones and left the girls to the easy task of mattocking the rest of the new trench, with the usual laughing and joking from the group.
Cobble floor in Trench 4

After lunch the small extension of Trench 4 has grew into a 7m x 4m beast, which meant the group had our first shot at de-turfing the nettle patch. Our tip, jumping on your spade as if it’s a po-go will get the job done but be careful you don’t cause yourself any ‘male related’ injuries. Elsewhere on site the lovely ladies in trench 2 found another coin, a great find, but the greatest discovery of the day was seeing even some top dogs in the hierarchy of Haly Hill breaking a sweat (see below).

Friday 5 August 2011

The Manse Trench Day 5

Today has been a good and productive day in the tench of the Manse's backyard. Since the trench is located on the lawn of a private property, we try very hard to keep everything neat and tidy using loads of plastic and planks.
Yesterday we had uncovered a stone feature in the southern side of the trench. It consisted of stones and boulders and was running all along the edge of the trench, into which it disappeared. It didn't seem to be a wall because the stones were not neatly stacked and there was no distinctive facing. Geophysics and an 18th century map of the Manse's backyard show linear features, and on the map it appears to be a garden path.
To find out more about this feature, it was decided today to extend the trench south. That meant more deturfing and more mattocking, until we reached the level in which the stone feature was standing.
Although we have uncovered numerous finds, none of them are really remarkable. Most of it is modern material, consisting of pieces of pottery, glass and coal. Among the more interesting finds are an iron knife (with missing handle) and some herbivore molars, possibly sheep.
When the other side of the feature was uncovered, it became clear that this could not have been a paved pathway, it is too narrow for that. After we uncovered more, we were surprised to see that the other (southern) side was very neatly stacked and had a clear facing.

Close up of the wall, showing the north side on the right. The south side is obviously much neater and has a clear facing.

View of the trench with stone feature, the modern Manse in the background. On the left there is Robbie, a retired topographical surveyor that volunteers for the SERF project, and to the right Eva Hopman (author of this blog entry).

It's possible that the feature might have been an 18th century retaining garden wall with a path leading next to it. The loose boulders and stones on the northern side of the wall could have allowed better drainage into the garden soil. For now though, this feature is as good as any! We will uncover more of the wall in the next days and hopefully find out exactly what it's function was.

Written by Eva Hopman, 22 year old intern at the Archaeology department of Glasgow University

Day 5 at the Church

Hi, My name is Ildiko and today I have been excavating in the Churchyard. In the morning we cleaned out trench 1, took some measurements, allocated coordinates to the trench edges, made a plan drawing of a cut in one of the contexts and filled out context sheets.

The main part of the day, however, involved slowly troweling back layer after layer of an extended sondage that had previously been dug in the trench. In the process of this we came across a cobbled looking surface. Hopeful, we kept going, excited to see what this feature would show to be. Eventually, it turned out to be a very complex and complicated array of features (cobbles, gravel, stones set in clay, irregular pebbles and a rather stoneless area which we assumed could be a fill). This startled us greatly and we decided to take some photographs before we investigated the matter further.

After a lot of speculation and confusion we laid out some string over part of the cobbled and the “empty” area and started excavating. The idea was to see the relationship between these two features. In the meanwhile two members of our team troweled back the rest of the area hoping to find some promising clues beneath the other features, but all we found was natural soil and no finds whatsoever. So we stay bamboozled.

                                                        Trench 1 at the end of the day
Day 5 – 5th of August 2011


Hi! My name is Christina and I am just about to enter into Junior Honours Archaeology (Third year) at the University of Glasgow.

Today has been a very exciting day for the Castle Craig Hillfort crew, as, after a long time digging and de-turfing, we are starting to find evidence!!! There was a bit of joyful dancing and whooping involved – nothing more exciting than progress! We were lucky enough to have some fantastic weather after yesterday’s torrential rain – so this really helped speed up things.

Myself and Cameron opened up Trench 2 more fully, which is situated over the ramparts within sheltered rock clusters, and we have managed to mattock this trench to death in a bid to catch up with Trench 1. As it is filled up with lots of rocks (a lovely endearing feature of the Hillfort), we are aiming to get down to the bedrock and (hopefully) find some interesting artefacts or structures along the way.

Meanwhile, up in the main trench, Colette found our first significant find: a thumbnail scrapper. You can see that someone has chipped around the edge of the stone to create a blade. Our in-house prehistory expert Dr Brophy believes it may indicate Bronze Age activity! Cue more dancing and whooping!

We also have some evidence of a post-hole in our rampart trench, thereby indicating some kind of wooden post used, perhaps within a structure. Things are certainly heating up and we are looking forward to investing this further tomorrow!

Day 4- Ben Effrey

Greetings from the high hillfort! I’m Tom and I’m entering honours Archaeology at Glasgow this year. I have been assigned to what some may want to call the most hardcore trench, at a probable Iron Age fort on Ben Effrey, a hill overlooking Auchterarder. We have opened up a 30m x 2m trench cutting through the three visible ramparts and over an outer ditch. Today was a wet and windy day, and the summit was misted up when we gained the summit. The rain fell and fell and fell and our trench turned into a bog briefly….

Never mind the weather, we got a load more mattocking done and the mist lifted enough to take this picture! We are having a great time up here, I hope you all get a chance to come up and see us sometime….

Thursday 4 August 2011

Day 4 - Haly Hill

Heya, my name's Leah and I'm studying Classical Civilisation and Archaeology at Glasgow. It was an exciting morning at Haly Hill as when we arrived on site we were met by two rather unusual finds in Trench 1 and Trench 5. A couple of adorable hedgehogs had decided to take an evening stroll along the site and fell into the trenches. Rebecca was their saviour while the rest of us were thinking of making them our mascot.

Trench 4 was most exciting as we have found, to quote the proffessionals, a pre-post medieval wall. I discovered a clay Victorian doll missing it's head and feet. I think the owner of this toy was a little sadistic. The rain made excavating a little more difficult but on the plus side, no one can complain if you're covered in dirt, we're all in the same boat! Trench 4 is being extended tomorrow so the excitement about what we may discover just keeps building.

Day 4 - The Paddock Trench

The Trench Progresses: Jamie in green, Andie in black, Carol in lilac and Fiona in red.

Hey, Jamie here. I’m about to enter into junior honours Archaeology at the University of Glasgow. This is my first time attending the SERF field school and so far I’m learning lots and having a great time, even in the rain. Today in the paddock we continued to strip back the orange brown context layer. We didn’t find as much as we had done in the topsoil, but that was to be expected. However, something interesting did pop up; another piece of pottery. We showed this to Dr Ewan Campbell, and along with the other interesting piece that Alison found yesterday, he came to the conclusion that they may be from the same item, and also that they may be Roman! Whilst this went on Fiona continued to excavate her sondage deeper and she found a few pieces of medieval pottery. The weather could have been better, but all in all a very productive day.
Churchyard – Day 3

Hi my name is Scott from New Jersey. Over the past few days my team and I have been excavating the centre of the churchyard at Forteviot. In a short time we have made a good deal of progress, digging about 1-1.5 metres into the ground. So far we have found mostly modern pottery sherds, bits of metal, glass, pipe pieces and bone fragments. We still need to dig deeper in order to access a medieval layer. Today we enjoyed good weather, a rare treat in Forteviot, and decided that our gravel area of our trench was indeed a proper feature. This feature could possibly be a sort of path through our excavation area, however we are still deforming this. We have had some luck with our find of green glaze potsherds, which indicate that we are getting closer to our goal. Most of the day was spent mattocking, trowelling and clearing the loose soil from the trench. While it is hard work at times the results are rewarding. The section that was taken of the gravel path revealed nothing underneath indicating that it was cut at some point. Tomorrow’s excavation promises to reveal further finds as we continue digging, hopefully providing us with some sort of material from the medieval period.

Lesley recording the gravel path feature in Trench 1

Flagstones of the earlier church building in Trench 2

Over in trench 2 by the church building Megan and her team have found flagstones outlining what looks to be the walls of an earlier church building with lots of rubble.

Wednesday 3 August 2011

Day 3 - 3rd August 2011

Second day up at Castle Craig Hillfort which brought us to the end of the de-turfing and a rare glimpse of sunshine.

We worked hard all morning in our 3 teams of mattock wielding, turf pulling and spade cutting trio’s and the rest of the turf was cleared just after lunchtime, job well done!

After lunch the sun came out from behind a cloud and we all set about cleaning the trench of grass and any loose. Everyone worked hard and the area was cleared in time to take our first photographs of the trench.

Although it may not seem like much when it is written down seeing the turf finally removed and the area cleared ready to get to work tomorrow gave me a real sense of achievement.

Good day today, excited to see what tomorrow brings.

Day 2 – 2nd August

Hi my name is Charlie, I am a 4th year student at Glasgow University studying Archaeology and taking part in the SERF project this year as a supervisor. Second day of this years SERF and a brief introduction to the excavations and the beginning of the 2011 season of investigation of Forteviot and the surrounding area. This year the SERF project is concentrating on two hillforts in the nearby area as well as the excavations in Forteviot itself. Both hillforts are suspected to be Iron Age and reside in the parish of Dunning. The lower of the two hillforts called Castle Craig is accessible by a rough road and is being directed by Heather James. The higher of the two, Ben Effrey, is accessed from the same point but requires a 45 minute walk or an off-road vehicle to access it. This hillfort will be directed by Tessa Poller. By opening various trenches across the Castle Craig site, to include ramparts and the enclosure at the summit, it is hoped that we can determine if there is any evidence remaining of occupation from the Iron Age or any time after its original construction. The site was originally looked at in the 1970’s by John Sherriff when it came under threat from nearby quarrying. The discoveries at the time included several stone slab covered pits and several small finds including a piece of a jet armlet.

At the higher site at Ben Effrey hillfort the plan is to open 3 trenches, one of these stretching down over all the ramparts and ditches. The aim of both of the hillforts is to deduce a chronology of the each site which can also be compared with other hillforts in the area and build up a coherent picture of the area.

It is hoped that there will be many more exciting finds to come from both of these sites! We will keep you updated as the events unfold.

Hi, my name’s Nicola. I’m a 4th year student at Glasgow University and am assisting supervisors Megan and Adrian in the Churchyard of St Andrew’s Church in Forteviot village. Two trenches have been opened up in the churchyard, one at the south eastern corner of the church building hoping to find evidence of earlier church structures, and the other in the only unused area of the churchyard itself. Day one was spent marking out trench 1 in the churchyard and de-turfing this by hand and then on to day 2 where the topsoil and underlying subsoil from this trench were removed with a lot of hard labour, mattocking and shovelling in some seriously wet weather! In trench one by the end of day two we had shifted a fair amount of soil and had begun to see the beginning of a possible gravel feature in the south east corner of the trench so it will be good to see where this leads.

Trench 2 by the church building was opened on day two around an area on the wall where some of the foundation stones for the wall were thought to be earlier in origin than the rest of the building. Just under the surface here the team found a row of stones running under the wall which could relate to the earlier building and also signs of other stones lying out from the church wall so we’re looking forward to clearing this area up and seeing what the stones reveal. All in all a good first couple of days with the promise of lots more interesting things to discover!

Welcome to SERF 2011!

This year we are mainly based in the village of Forteviot and have trenches open in the Church Yard, Halle Hill,  Manse Garden and Paddock. Our main objective in the village is to find the ellusive Pictish Palace where the first recored King of Scotland, Kenneth McAlpine, is reputed to have died.  Archaeologists Tessa Poller and Heather James are up on the hillforts of Castle Craig and Ben Effrey hoping to gain a window into life in the Iron Age.

The Paddock Trench, Day 3

Above: Steven and Supervisor Alison get stuck in to mattocking!

Hi there, my name's Fiona. I'm a third year going on fourth year student at the University of Glasgow and i'm helping to supervise the Paddock trench. So far our team has deturfed and stripped back the upper topsoil to reveal an orange brown context flecked with coal. The finds from this level have mostly been from the 17th century onwards and include glass and pottery fragments, but we have found at least one piece of medieval pottery and we hope there is more to come! Other interesting finds have included stamped pipe bowls and a small perforated cone of copper alloy with mineralised wood inside. Today i continued to excavate a sondage i'd been working on which runs along the edge of the trench. This will be taken deeper tomorrow, hopefully giving us a better idea of the site's startigraphy. So far the weather has been good with not too much rain and this afternoon we had brilliant sunshine.