About Me

My photo
I'm on a year's CBA Community Archaeology Training Placement at Northlight Heritage in Glasgow

Wednesday, 31 July 2013


Well it's been a while since I last posted!  The reason being that I've been so busy with the various Community projects on the go at Northlight Heritage, and invariably, actual work takes precedence over writing about the work!

I will try to go project by project and give you a flavour of the key things I've been up to....


A German member of the Clan Gregor society talking to the local B&B owner at sun down

At the end of  July I worked up in beautiful Dalmally on an excavation organised by the Clan Gregor Society.  The digging volunteers from the Clan Gregor Society http://www.clangregor.com/ came from all over the world (America, Germany...) but there were also local members of the Community involved http://loch-awe.com/local-groups/dalmally-historical-association/

It was a unique experience for me because the Clan Gregor members were after something very specific - evidence to back up the Geophysical results and historical research that there is be a high-status fortified dwelling in Dalmally where the MacGregor chieftain was based.  Canmore record

There were very high hopes to find evidence of this fortified manor.  My trench turned up a modern field drain, but in one of the other trenches we had a stretch of walling, which is a bit more promising.
What I liked about the project was how much the Clan Gregor Society involved the local community and how much just a little bit of a taste of excavation can get folk hooked!

Kate and Ian - two volunteers who were ace at planning and so enthusiastic!

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Week 13 - Burning the Circle

Well the highlight of this week was, hands down, setting fire to a timber circle in Arran...to create a public spectacle, engage people in Arran's amazing archaeology and also to try a bit of an experiment.  About 40 people turned up to watch at 10pm on a Sunday night.  Check out Dr Brophy's blog about the experience http://theurbanprehistorian.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/the-12th-hole/

As well as the amazing timber circle burning, I tried my hand at creating a demonstration Burnt Mound - it worked really well and I really enjoyed chatting to visitors to Brodick Country Park about how the Bronze Age folk heated water.  We had lots of debates about what they would have used the hot water for.  My favourite suggestion was from one wee boy who said "TORTURE!"  We managed to boil and egg in the water & eat it ... Success!!

I felt privileged to have erected one of the timbers by hand...I didn't dig the hole though!

Thanks go to the epic University of Glasgow and the amazing Arran Ranger Service https://www.facebook.com/ArranRangerService

Monday, 29 July 2013

Week 12 - Bennachie

Me working with Volunteers to clear rubble from Shepherd's Lodge in Bennachie
I spent this week up at Bennachie in Aberdeenshire.  I was kindly hosted by Northlight's Aoife Gould, who is the Community Archaeologist on this great collaborative project.  Check out the website here: http://www.bailiesofbennachie.co.uk/excavation/ 

The project is all about this amazing hill - Bennachie - and everything in it - from flora and fauna, to geology and archaeology.  There is a very active community group called the Bailies of Bennachie who are working with archaeologists and anthropologists from the University of Aberdeen and Northlight Heritage to try to uncover information about the colony of crofters who lived in an area of common land during the 19th Century until they were evicted by their landlords.

I spent the week in one particular dwelling - working with students and volunteers from the community recording and excavating a house at Shepherd's Lodge.  We even know the family name of the people who lived there, which meant finding personal objects like a clay pipe even more special.

I also demonstrated the wonders of pole and kite aerial photography to three school groups - who all seemed to love coming to speak to the archaeologists.

Some of the Bennachie team at Shepherd's lodge 

Week 11

This week was mainly spent in the office (which is a necessity sometimes!)  The above picture shows a visit to the Dickson Laboratory near Maryhill in Glasgow by some of the Hidden Heritage volunteers.  They were given a tour of the lab and then set to work sorting out and cleaning the artefacts found on the Hidden Heritage excavations.  I think it's great that Northlight are involving volunteers in the post-excavation side of archaeology, as it's often forgotten about compared to the thrill of excavation.  

I also worked on a project which is going to take place in Selkirk in the Autumn, as well as helping to prepare a draft report on our work for the Inner Forth Landscape Initiative.  The most interesting phone conversation I had this week was with a retired miner at High Valleyfield in Fife.  He told me some great anecdotes about the domestic culture of miners and how he got chatted up in the pub after backshift, because he literally had black coal eyeliner on (so deeply ingrained, it didn't come off in the shower!)  This conversation really taught me the value in Oral history projects - to bring something industrial to life.