Issue 165

Newsletter – Issue 165, September 2007

Society Activities

Lectures Lectures for the rest of 2007 are as follows –
Wednesday, 17th October – Jonathan Wordsworth on Working with farmers to protect Scotland’s Heritage.
Tuesday, 13th November – Rosemary Dowens on Machrie Moor, Arran – archaeology from a phenomenological perspective.
Wednesday, 19th December – AGM followed by Dr David H Caldwell on Robinson Crusoe Rediscovered – Archaeology in the South Pacific.

Castlehill, Penicuik (from Dave Jones)

The dig season is now over and the trenches covered. Finds have been very sparse this year with the green bottle sherds that appear to delineate the bottom of the most recent infill of the ditch at the SW end of the site being the most obvious. Trench 2 is the area of current interest. It was from this trench that the Iron Age tools were recovered and it is possible that we are not down to natural. Further excavation may help to clarify the Iron Age use of the site.
We have now received permission from Sir Robert Clerk to return again in the spring. It may only be a short season if we can clear up the Trench 2 question. We record our thanks to Sir Robert for the further permission and his tolerance of our presence into a sixth year.

Manuel Nunnery (from Ian Hawkins and Dave Jones)

A very good turn-out of EAFS members assisted Geoff Bailey at his excavation of the area on the north bank of the Avon adjacent to the upstanding remains of Manuel Nunnery. The survey started on Saturday, 4th August in exceptionally good weather – the rest of the two weeks unfortunately did not match it. An area of 100 by 100 metres was laid out giving us 25 standard squares to survey. Peter Morris walked the whole area with his magnetometer on the first day, taking 40,000 readings and walking well over 10km in the process. The print-out of the results was emailed to Ian on the Saturday night in an effort over and above the normal call of duty – many thanks to Peter for all his work.
The same area was surveyed with our ground resistance measuring equipment but, as we generally only managed 5 squares per day with days off in between, we did not finish until the end of the fortnight. The magnetic and resistive print-outs correlate well but do not show any clear rectangular buildings. There are a number of lines that cross the site and Geoff placed initial trenches at the SW side of the field where high resistance and positive magnetic points showed up at the edge of the surveys. Wall footings and cobbled areas were found but interpreting how they relate to the small remaining section of the church wall does not look very easy. The limited time and adverse weather meant that the area excavated was not very large but it confirmed that there was a significant amount of building on the NE side of the nunnery. Some medieval pottery and stone roofing material, some with surviving nail holes, was found along with a coin. We await with interest Geoff’s interim report.

Lauriston/Cramond (from Dave Jones)

We still await information on which of the many aerial photographic surveys show the crop marks in the field to the N of our geophysical surveys on Farl O’ Cakes field. Until this information is forthcoming and permission obtained from the owner or tenant of the field this survey is on hold.

Cousland and other sites (from Dave Jones)

The ground resistance surveys to the E and W of the tower house appeared only to show geology on the printouts apart from a possible small annex on the W side of the tower. The survey will never the less be written up and a précis will go into DES.
David Connolly has confirmed that access will be available to the site believed to be Cousland pottery, but not until early November. In the hope of detecting pottery kilns ground resistance and magnetometry will be used – more details later.
The large site of Luggate church, burial ground and village will hopefully become available next year. If this materializes it should become a major project for 2008.
The castle site at Newbyres is still a possibility but to date there has been no progress in clearing the very thick undergrowth which has to happen before we can conduct any sort of geophysical survey.
One other site in which David has become involved is the church site at Old Pentland near Hillend. A ground resistance survey could be required there with hopes of detecting wall foundations. Finally we must record our thanks to David for making a generous donation to EAFS funds to cover our expenses on the projects he has initiated. Those who watched The One Show on BBC, 20th August, 7pm, will have seen him doing a double act with Neil Oliver on a site in Cambridgeshire. I understand that there could be more to come.

Ogilface Castle (from Dave Jones)

The geophysical survey of the site to the W of Ogilface took place on Saturday, 8th September. The site is some distance W from Ogilface 1, along a farm road, so we proceeded in convoy under the guidance of John and Rosie Wells of the History of Armadale Association. Our previous exploits at Ogilface can be viewed on their Armadale website.
Peter Morris made a magnetic survey over 5,200 sq.m. that encompassed a rectangular’structure’ (large stones showing through the turf). This lies within an oddly shaped enclosure that shows up well on an aerial photograph supplied by John. Due to only two EAFS members being present we managed to resistance survey only part of the area covered by magnetometry. Both plots are difficult to interpret but ours does show part of the enclosure. Peter commented that this was the’noisiest’ magnetic site that he has ever surveyed.
No decision yet on how much more we need to do or when it can be arranged. The RCAHMS record of the site, apparently NS96NW6, lists’Cultivation Terraces’ – our survey has already found more than just terraces.

TR/CIA ground resistance equipment (from Dave Jones)

The equipment that we purchased some years ago and which has been used on at least a dozen sites, records resistance to a depth of about 1.5 metres but gives no indication of the depth of a feature within the range of 0 to 1.5m. We have, at Cramond and Penicuik, been assisted by Dr Bruce Hobbs whose resistive linear array equipment does show the depth at which a feature lies and this adds significantly to the interpretation of what is below the ground. The identification of banks and ditches in two places at Cramond are good examples. An add-on kit will shortly be available to work with the equipment that we currently own which will gives us this capability. It comprises extra probes, cables and software and is likely to be priced at around £250 – we hope to purchase one.

DNA (from Robin Scott)

Many of you will recall Dr Jim Wilson’s fascinating talk about what we can learn about our ancestors from our DNAs. I followed this up by first getting my yDNA (paternal) tested and because the’inference’ was so interesting I then got my mtDNA (maternal) tested and the result was even more interesting! To give you a possible clue – think St Kilda. To give another clue, I have had a growing conviction that “I am not one of us”, that I am an’outsider’ and I had a need to find out more. There is a’health risk’ with doing this and it is we can be disturbed from our comfort zones by discovering some unexpected family’skeletons’ – the ones you were never told about when you were growing up!
The procedures associated in’gathering’ samples are simple and EthnoAncestry (J.W.’s company) provide good kits by post and the current price (about £125.00 for both) is not unreasonable in that, besides getting your inferred haplogroups – you will recall Jim explained all about it! – you get a certificate and some very good web links to more information. At the time mine were being done, I suspect they were going through a time of very rapid expansion and there were one or two hiccups that were resolved with a little persistence!
As a thought, might there be any mileage in us getting a’group’ membership study carried out to find out how representative a sample of the general population we are? Over to the Committee!

THE COMPANY OF ST MARGARET

We had a query about medieval finds in Scotland from The Company of St Margaret which is a new re-enactment group which amongst other activities is trying to reproduce medieval objects using authentic methods. They are looking for new members – any interested or who wants to find out more should contact Guthrie Stewart on guthrie_stewart@postmaster.co.uk

RCAHMS TREASURED PLACES PROJECT

We had a letter from Leanne McCormick Treasured Places Communications Officer at the Royal Commission re the above as follows (slightly abbreviated) –
‘RCAHMS is currently developing a number of projects to celebrate its centenary year in 2008. The main celebration for the public is Treasured Places a Scotland-wide initiative to engage the public with the heart of the Commission’s work and explore the archive collection through a number of exciting initiatives over the next 18 months. The project’s aim is to raise awareness of the man-made environment and to help people recognise the value of their own local heritage.
Treasured Places will launch on 19th September with an online public vote to find the nation’s favourite archive image from RCAHMS collections. 100 fascinating images have been selected including archaeological sites, castles and monuments, feats of civil engineering and pieces of urban architecture, showcasing the journey in which our nation’s built heritage has unfolded. The images chosen for the vote in your local area include an antiquarian drawing of the Cat Stane. Each of the 100 images will appear on the website, www.treasuredplaces.org.uk where visitors will be able to vote for their favourite image and have the opportunity to add a comment about why they have voted for it. A selection of our 100 Treasured Places will also feature in a weekend centenary supplement produced by our media partners, The Herald newspaper. At the end of October 2007 the top ten images with most votes will be announced and all will feature in the RCAHMS centenary exhibition to be held in the City Art Centre, Edinburgh, from October 2008 to January 2009. They will also feature in a touring exhibition visiting venues across Scotland and in a publication. The ten images will then compete for votes through November, with the nation’s favourite image of a Treasured Place revealed in early December 2007.
This is an excellent opportunity to generate publicity and greater awareness of Scotland’s architecture and archaeology to the wider public. If you would like to help the Treasured Places from your area reach the top ten and be voted the nation’s favourite, please visit the website.
If you would like to discuss any of the above or would like to find out more about the project please contact myself or project manager Siobhan McConnachie.’

SCOTTISH ARCHAEOLOGY MONTH (from Val Dean)

Cramond Heritage Trust and EAFS would like to thank all those members who helped out at SAM at Cramond on 15th/16th September. Patrick Cave-Browne’s Ancient Technology workshop aroused a great deal of interest and gave many people the chance to try their hand at lighting muttonfat-coated rush lights from an initial spark from flint and steel or to make string from lime bast or nettles. We were lucky to have the loan of the CSA’s Ancient Writing kit which had folk of all ages queuing up to write their names in Runes or to impress them on Cuneiform on clay tablets. Despite some heavy rain on the Sunday, it was a successful weekend, with the walks to Cramond Island being well attended.

FIRST MILLENNIA STUDIES GROUP 2007-2008 PROGRAMME (provisional)

To be held on Tuesdays at 6.00pm in the Lecture Theatre, University of Edinburgh Archaeology Department, High School Yards, Edinburgh with one in the Boyd Orr Building, Lecture Theatre B, University of Glasgow (adjacent to Archaeology Department).
2nd October.  Fraser Hunter – Birnie: Investigating an Iron Age power centre.
6th November.  Chris Bowles – Reconstructing the Britons.
4th December.  Roger Mercer – Ceremony and Settlement at the turn of the First Millennia in the Borders of Scotland: Fieldwork in Eskdalemuir, Castle O’er and Over Rig.
8th January 2008.  Euan MacKie and Dawn McLaren – title to be confirmed.
5th February (Boyd Orr, Glasgow).  David Strachan – The Black Spout, Pitlochry and circular homesteads of Perthshire and Birgitta Hoffmann – There’s nae one but two; A look at the Iron Age evidence between the Forth Mosses and Blairgowrie.
4th March.  Andy Heald and John Barber – Caithness roundhouses: chronology, context and controversy.
1st April.  Ian Ralston and Andy Dunwell – Fulcrum of the East? Settlement and society in the long Iron Age in Angus.
6th May – to be confirmed and 3rd June. Day seminar, details to follow.

DATES FOR YOUR DIARY

Saturday, 6th October.  CSA AGM Inverness – details on www.scottisharchaeology.org.uk
Saturday, 14th October. Scotland’s Rural Past – launch of new website – www.scotlandsruralpast.org.uk
Wednesday, 17th October.  EAFS lecture – Jonathan Wordsworth – Working with farmers to protect Scotland’s Heritage.
Friday/Saturday, 19th/20th October.  Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland, conference (in Stirling) on Understanding the Scottish Town, more details from Dr Susan Buckham (director of AHSS) at director@ahss.org.uk
Saturday, 20th October.  Industrial Archaeology in Scotland: Future Perspectives – Conference, National Museums of Scotland, Edinburgh – details at www.socants.org
Saturday, 3rd November.  TAFAC Conference, St. Andrews.
Tuesday, 13th November.  EAFS lecture.
Wednesday, 19th December.  EAFS AGM, lecture and social evening.

EDITOR’S MISCELLANY

Patrick Cave-Browne has passed on a website that he found which is full of international archaeology info – www.stonepage.com – which might be of interest.

(Views and opinions expressed in this Newsletter are not necessarily those of the Society, its Committee and Members, or the Editor).