Excavation blog by Brigid Golden

Today marked day two of our project in Holyrood Park. Having fenced off our worksite the day before, we were able to mark the boundaries of our trench for the excavation of the Iron Age rampart near the summit of Arthur’s Seat. There was a trench dug in this location prior to our excavation today which had to backfilled last year due to Covid restrictions, so it was important that we ensured that the trench we established today was in the same location as the previous trench in order to avoid furthering erosion of the site. We did this using GPS coordinates of the previous trench. After referring to a map which demonstrated where the rampart intersected with the previous trench, it was decided that we adjust the location of our trench by extending by about a meter on each side in order to have better access to the rampart. We were then able to begin the excavation, using trowels to remove rocks, gravel, and topsoil to expose bedrock. In the lower part of the trench, spades were used to remove turf and soil. Our excavation was met with significant interest from the members of the public who were there to climb Arthur’s seat, many of whom expressed that they were unaware of the many archaeological features within the park and were excited to hear about our project. It was a very productive day and the team is excited to continue our excavation tomorrow.

Survey blog by Ita Ossowska

On the second day of the project we once again headed up the Dunsapie fort to continue the work we started on Monday. However, on reaching the top we realised that one of our “marker points” had disappeared over night (probably stolen/taken as a souvenir by somebody) which meant that we had to start from scratch as it is impossible to set up a drawing station in exactly the same spot without the marker points. Nevertheless, we managed to produce new sketches quite quickly and very accurately, largely because of the experience we gained the day before. In the meantime, two other groups were producing “more advanced plans” by using the total station and conducting a GPS survey of the site. After lunch, the teams switched so as to allow everyone to engage in both activities. Both “old fashioned” hand-drawings and digital planning are an essential part of archaeological work when mapping sites as they enable one to fully appreciate and comprehend the site one is working on.

During the works, we discovered some interesting features which escaped our notice a day before, such as possible remains of a stone roundhouse and additional ramparts around the inside and edges of the fort.

The plans were almost completely finished by the end of the day and tomorrow the team will meet at St. Anthony’s Chapel to carry out a building assessment and learn more about the architectural archaeology.