The Holyrood 2022 Field School has begun, with students from The University of Edinburgh, and support from AOC Archaeology. Each day, students will share their experiences on this blog as well as any updates from the excavations!

Gabby’s Experience

Today was my first day of my fieldwork at Dunsapie fort in Holyrood. It was a long and dirty day but overall a successful start to our 3 week excavation! On my first day alone I’ve learnt so much about what it means to be an archaeologist, and truly understand the importance of preserving and understanding our history for everyone. I was very unsure what to expect today but all my queries were put aside upon meeting my group where we were taken on a tour of our location.

We went up Arthur’s seat and had a look around at the landscape we are working on and had the excavation explained to us! Upon climbing Arthur’s seat it was pointed out to us all the slight changes in the footpath, this was explained to be the remains of ramparts, part of old fortifications for defensive means. This is what we are hoping to find on our excavation amongst other things such as dates for these structures. Also on our tour, we looked at the problems of erosion from public footpaths. Arthur’s seat is a very popular location and receives thousands of visitors every day. We also saw how the ramparts have eroded and been used over time, quite often stones being reused elsewhere. This is the beauty of this unique location – so many unanswered questions that we hope to get an insight into during the excavations. So far we found a few out of place stones today! (amongst a “prehistoric” Coca Cola can and dog ball buried at our excavation point!)

Yusuf’s Experience

After taking a lunch break and resting for few minutes after hiking around the sites we gathered near the cabin and picked up the shovels and trowels preparing to start. We climbed Dunsapie Hill around 12:50 and we were introduced to how to lay out trenches. We then split into two groups, each will take a trench to dig. First off, we used the shovels to cut blocks of turf through the soil, remove them and expose the trench and make even and easy to work with. Then, we moved all the soil we picked up to a large bag to allow us to bury it when we finish. It was hard work, but we have made a good progress in around 3 to 4 hours, the trenches are now ready for more precise tools after a bit of clearing up, and we can’t wait to start excavated what could be a medieval hillfort.

Public Outreach

Over the course of this project, we will be sharing content online! We will be live tweeting from @edinarch, using the hashtag #holyroodarchaeology. We are also sharing stories and content on Instagram – @edinburgharchaeology. Follow us on social media to stay up to date with the project and find out what we are doing on a day to day basis.

We have our first reel of the season – Day 1, De-Turfing! Check it out following this link!