Living Lomonds Big Dig: East Lomond Hill (Day 6-7)

At last some fine weather for our dig on Saturday and Sunday!

Signage to greet visitors to the dig with East Lomond summit in the background.

Signage greets visitors to the dig with East Lomond summit in the background.

Dig site from the hill summit.

Day 6

We welcomed the first of our local community volunteers on the 20th September. Turned out to be a small team due to a few last-minute cancellations. A small team but highly dedicated with good cheer all round. Amazing what a bit of sun can do for the mood. 🙂

Good weather at last.

Some great finds were uncovered too. John, Nicola, and Mike helped reveal more of our stone wall, in which John discovered a fine stone pounder tool.

A prehistoric stone pounder found amongst the wall stones.

A prehistoric stone pounder found amongst the wall stones.

A slot was also dug through an earth bank feature at the north side of the trench. This was revealed to be made up of simple earth and overlays a subsoil with bone and charcoa inclusions that extends across most of the site. So we think this feature is most likely quite recent and may simply be an undulation in the unimproved ground surface, which is backed up by the modern finds embedded in its surface. No Pictish turf building then – can’t win them all I guess…

Stone wall emerges.

Day 7

Bigger team today and we welcomed back Joe FitzPatrick who helped produce the geophysical survey of the site we are digging and has been a stalwart of many of our archaeology events. Good to have you back on the team Joe!

Joe and Joe doing an excellent job cleaning back the wall.

Joe and Joe doing an excellent job cleaning back the wall.

A small extension was added to the trench today in order to reveal whether our wall arced round to the north as expected or carried on out of the trench eastward. Predictably enough it potentially seems to do neither of these things! Rather there appears to be a smaller stone feature extending out from the main wall to the south-east and a gap, possibly an entrance to the east.

Site photograph at the end of day 7. Nice work!

Site photograph at the end of day 7. Nice work!

Beside this the large set upright stones of a possible box feature or internal setting were uncovered. Is this the robbed terminus of the return wall or a domestic feature inside a large building? Join us to find out next week.

John revealing a stone setting or robbed section of wall...

John revealing a stone-setting or robbed-out section of wall…

A great end to our first week with a bonny Fife sunset and satisfied smiles all round.

(L-R) Pete, John, Joe ('A'), Joe ('1'), Nicola, Oliver and Mike.

(L-R) Pete, John, Joe (‘A’), Joe (‘1’), Nicola, Oliver and Mike.

Fife secondary school visits, kite photography, a storyteller, a new trench and more, all next week. Stay posted folks.

 

 

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Discovering the Ancient Lomonds

Hello and welcome back to the Living Lomonds archaeology blog.

First of all, I must apologise for the extended gap in posting about the project. Happily the main excuse for this is that I have been very busy exploring the archaeology of the Lomond hills with lots of very nice people. I will now try my best to regain your interest in our little blog with a short summary about our recent community archaeology activities.

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These last couple of months have been non-stop with activities for the Discover the Ancient Lomond Project. Our programme went into full-throttle this Spring with a major walkover survey for volunteers and the first in our schedule of heritage-themed guided-walks and talks. Its been a packed calendar of great days out in some beautiful local landscapes with up to 14 separate events in our April to June programme. All the events were summarised for ease of booking in our printed programme booklet. Excellently designed by Claire Hubbard of Falkland Centre for Stewardship.

Front page of the Living Lomonds archaeology programme for Spring 2014.

The back-bone of volunteering events for the start of the programme has been a major walkover survey covering all of the upland regions in the project area.

Map of the Living Lomonds Project area with the location of Spring events

Map of the Living Lomonds Project area with the location of Spring events

This ‘Discovery Survey’ aimed to give volunteers the chance to find previously unrecorded archaeological sites, whilst at the same time learn some basic skills in how to read historic landscapes and record archaeological sites. After a quiet start due to some early poor weather, folk came out in force to take part from all over Fife, and from up the road in Dundee and Perth, from down in East Lothian, and a couple even from as far a field as southern England and Italy!

A team at Benarty Hill in Perth and Kinross.

(L-R) Chris Vlasto, Bill Wardlaw, Eric Wardlaw and John Hughes.

Rural skills team at Falkland

(L-R) Joe, Chris, Kaitlynn, Aaron, Adam and Oliver.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The volunteers gave up more than 90 days of their precious spare time to help us. They were from all walks of life: from a former Royal Marine, to district careworkers, civil servants, local lads with a story to tell, sprightly pensioners, students and many more.

At East Lomond Hillfort

(L-R) Alan, Amanda, Lorna, Mike, Joe, Barry, Alison and Mindaugas.

(L-R) Callum, Sam, Greggor and Gary.

The weather was better on some days than on others as you can see!

A rural skills team mark out a prehistoric hut circle in thick fog at East Lomond Hill.

A team of rural skills apprentices mark out a prehistoric hut circle in thick fog at East Lomond Hill.

(L-R) Marc and Jamie record an overgrown 19th-century shooting hide at Purin Hill by East Lomond.

(L-R) Marc and Jamie record an overgrown 19th-century shooting hide at Purin Hill by East Lomond.

But come rain or shine I can honestly say that I had a great time working with everyone. It can often be fun to share the experience of exploring a landscape, but I was genuinely impressed by the enthusiasm and good spirits that all our volunteers brought to each training event. AND we also found lots of interesting things. So a win-win situation all round. Well done everyone!

What did we find? Well a surprising amount of ‘new’ archaeological sites, in addition to improving the record for known ones. The new sites ranged from prehistoric burial cairns,to Iron Age (700BC-AD500) hut circles, to a possible standing stone, to pre-Improvement (?AD1500-AD1800) enclosures, to lost boundary stones. We found so much in fact that these new discoveries will need a separate post to do them proper justice. So I’ll come back to this if I may.

Bill Woods taking in the view from the summit of West Lomond Hill, which is the site of a massive prehistoric cairn and later stone structures.

Bill Woods taking in the view from the summit of West Lomond Hill, the site of a massive prehistoric cairn and later stone structures.

The walkover survey is now complete, bar taking a few GPS readings at certain sites to improve the accuracy of the recorded location. We will be continuing the programme this July with more of our popular guided walks, and a new schedule of geophysics training activities and the first of our big digs, which starts this year at East Lomond Hillfort during Scottish Archaeology Month in September! So plenty to get stuck into.

Watch this space for more regular posts. Next time I’ll be turning my keyboard to muse a bit more deeply on the rich array of sites and landscapes we have in the Lomond Hills. In the meantime why not take a look at our new and really rather fine website, which has just been relaunched: www.livinglomonds.org.uk

All the best for now,

Oliver

Dr Oliver JT O’Grady

Archaeologist with the Living Lomonds Landscape Partnership

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