Issue 150

Newsletter – Issue 150, October 2004

Visit to Dreva Hill Fort and Settlements

We visited this remarkable site on Saturday, 28th August. Although the sky was overcast, we got very little rain and spent a pleasant and energetic day out. Dreva is on a rocky knoll in a very hilly area and its two ramparts stand out in a dramatic fashion against the surrounding hills and glens. A patch of upright stones to the southwest represents a chevaux de frise designed to break up any cavalry charge on the fort. There are also two large unenclosed settlements close to the fort lying to the northeast and the northwest. They consist of subrectangular enclosures, connecting pathways, cultivation terraces and hut circles up to 15m in diameter, some of which are scooped into the hillside. Further to the northeast and across a road are the walls of a small enclosed settlement. Nearby are the stone foundations of a particularly large hut circle. Another interesting feature is a patch of small cairns that possibly is the result of field clearance.
The visit was particularly illuminating in that it provided a contrast between the formidable defences of a small hill fort from the middle of the first millennium BC with the much more extensive settlements from pre-Roman and Roman times.

Proposed visit to the Cleaven Dyke

The Cleaven Dyke is a particularly enigmatic Neolithic monument. It is a linear earthwork about two miles long. The earthwork itself is up to three metres high and ten metres wide, and there is a berm and ditch on either side. Its purpose remains a mystery but the most popular view is that it is a mystical pathway for religious initiates who experienced the spiritual power of monuments and significant natural features as they walked along its length.
The longest section is on the west side of the A93 between Perth and Blairgowrie just over a mile north of where the A93 crosses the River Isla at the Beech Hedge. We shall be meeting there at 13.30 on Saturday, 16th October at a point on the road about three quarters of the way through a wood where there is a five bar gate on the west side of the road. If anyone is late, walk down south from the gate along a forest path and this should take you to the large earthwork to the west.

Dig at Dalmeny

As expected, unfortunately this dig is not going to happen this year. Initial information from the Factor was that the crop of barley would be harvested early giving a number of weeks before ploughing and resowing. The crop was however wheat, which is harvested later, and the window of opportunity shrank making the dig unviable. A subsequent telephone conversation with the Farm Manager confirmed that the crop cycle is such that we will have to wait until mid-2006.

Ground Resistance Survey in Dalmeny Village

The survey started as arranged and advertised over the weekend 18th/19th September as our contribution to Scottish Archaeology Month. It was publicised by the Council for Scottish Archaeology. We will be writing up and publishing a report at the end of the survey as required by the Historic Scotland sponsorship.
The weekend saw 18 members (to whom many thanks) on site conducting the first part of the survey on the northwest corner grass verge in parallel with informing some 35 visitors of what was being done. Some visitors stayed for a while and, under guidance, recorded a row of readings for us while others were content to know that we were ‘doing the same as Time Team’.
The ground resistance printout shows mainly low resistance at the eastern end with lines, at about 10m intervals, that could represent the edges of plots. Towards the Wester Dalmeny farmhouse end there are a number of high resistance areas with one that could link to a building partially excavated by CFA Archaeology in 2002 at the time the steading was developed.
More sessions are required to survey the area to the south of the road junction and also that on the northeast – the corner from which the church stands well back.

Survey in the Borders

The time spent on the ground resistance surveys at Corstorphine and Dalmeny has meant that no date has yet been arranged to do the survey at Eddleston. We will get there but possibly not this year. Trevor Cowie will be giving us a talk on the Eddleston Project in November.

Survey at Cramond

Dr Bruce Hobbs of the University of Edinburgh Geology and Geophysics Department telephoned on the first day of term to say that the linear array ground resistance measurements could start on 6th October as a student project. The intention is to use the linear array to help to clarify some parts of the area survey that are proving difficult to interpret. The combination of the two printouts should show us the depth of the high resistances in the area survey and show what is archaeology and what geology.

Ground Resistance Survey at Corstorphine

The semicircular grassed area to the south of the church was surveyed on 22nd and 29th August. The 1894 25 inch to the mile O.S. map gives a very different picture of this part of Corstorphine. Kirkstyle Cottages faced west down the High Street, ‘Irish Corner’ was on the south side and the Beadle’s house was on the curve round to Kirk Loan.
The ground resistance printout shows high resistance that aligns with some of these buildings but much appears to have been lost due to road widening, probably at the time of the demolition of everything on the site. Of more interest are signs in the printout of footings of a building shown on the 1777 and 1756 plans that could relate back to that used by one of the prebendary ministers appointed by Sir Adam Forrester. The dating for this would be around 1400. A ‘hospital’ was built on the site prior to 1538 – later referred to as ‘Alms House’ and considered ruinous by the Kirk Session in 1679. It was apparently not until 1810 that the site was sold on lease and the foundation used to build a house.