Newsletter – Issue 165, September 2007
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.