Living Lomonds Big Dig: East Lomond Hill (Day 3-5)

Welcome back to our dig blog.

There is lots to report from East Lomond. All this week we’ve continued to be helped out by corporate volunteer teams. They’ve done a great job in less than ideal weather condition. The archaeology is starting to emerge through the mist.

Day 3

With a reduced team today we focused on drawing a plan of the trench after the topsoil had been removed and the sub-surface cleaned.

Volunteers have a go at some light planning on day 3.

Volunteers have a go at some light planning on day 3.

With a good pre-excavation plan in the bag the guys then set about revealing the possible wall in the lower south side of the trench. This turned up more burnt bone and started to reveal a firmer and richer subsoil below, which was rich in flecks of charcoal and crumbs of clay. This seems encouraging for there being potential occupation deposits nearby.

Day 4

A bigger team on this day with plenty of good digging done. Our wall started to look more substantial with some good solid facing stones revealed. Beside the wall the subsoil encountered on day 3 was exposed further and proved to contain more burnt animal bone fragments and scatters of charcoal.

Digging back a 'spit' of soil to reveal more of a wall.

Digging back a ‘spit’ of soil to reveal more of a wall.

At the north-east corner of the trench it was time for a trench extension to reveal more of the circular feature we are interested in from the geophysics. Cleaning back this new area turned up a fragment of a rather nice whetstone (a smooth stone used for sharpening metal blades).

SGN volunteer Alex holds his whetstone find.

SGN volunteer Alex holds his whetstone find.

Day 5

More thick fog today and another great team of workers from SGN. Continued digging a 10cm spit back to reveal our increasingly clear wall at the south side of the trench. Also started to dig a slot through our possible turf wall at the north side and finish cleaning our extension. Beyond the main trench a group of volunteers from Perth opened up a 4m x 2m trench over a bank about 15m to the south. This may be an old field bank or potentially an annexe attached to the adjacent hillfort.

The probable wall looks increasing clear though seems to have been robbed out of stone in places. The good facing stones look great now. Beside these are a band of smaller pebbles making up an inner core to the wall and a less well-preserved outer set of larger stone.

Our probable wall starts to look larger and curved.

Our probable wall starts to look larger and curved.

Star find of the day was a small hand tool – this was a round stone pounder found by Andy of SGN. Looks like a water worn small boulder, fits nicely in the hand and lightly coloured yellow and orange with white bands of quartz (not usual for the stone on the hill and prehaps selected and carried into the area). Its importance as a tool was given away by impact marks and striations that are visible on one face. This suggests to stone was used by some one in the past to pound against another stone surface, prehaps to break bones up to extract marrow or crack nuts etc. The tools was found reused in the structure of the wall face. We’ll never know for sure, but it is interesting to think whether this was originally placed in the wall because of the memories associated with the old tool? It is always useful to think about these more interpretive ideas when your on site. The team all had a good chat about it.

Andy proudly shows off his stone tool find.

Andy proudly shows off his stone tool find.

For our wall the running theory is that we are revealing the arch of an Iron Age building, perhaps a hut circle, but we will need to see more and get down onto the lower deposits to know for sure.

We will welcome the first of our local community volunteers this weekend. Site tours start from 2pm. Look forward to seeing you there if you live nearby. Stay turned for more updates!

Bye for now.