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