The excavations of Dunsapie Hillfort continued, and students made progress on the two open trenches. A small group were given an introduction to surveying by Gemma from AOC Archaeology. Read about their experiences here!

Alasdair’s Experience

On day 2 we returned to Trench 1, hoping to get further in our excavation of one of the forts’ ramparts, which had been partially uncovered yesterday. We had already removed the overgrowth from the trench so began the day by continuing to remove the layer of topsoil. 

Almost immediately we began to find small artefacts from the trench, which were recovered from the first layer of topsoil. The first recorded find of the whole project was a small bullet cartridge, likely left on the site when Holyrood Park was used as a military training ground in the first half of the 20th century. Two fifty pence pieces were also recovered nearby dating 196? and 1980. We also recovered some animal remains, including an animal bone fragment and two teeth, likely formerly belonging to a sheep or grazing animal. All the finds were catalogued, and their coordinate location recorded. 

Having cleared the layer of topsoil we had a better idea of what we might find in the future. Large stones were found lying next to the rampart, which had possibly at one time been part of the wall but had fallen into the adjacent space. Another point of interest was a line of smaller stones which formed an arch the length of the trench, which possibly could indicate further internal structures adjacent to the rampart. 

The trench was photographed at this stage, before the next layer of soil was removed. Some additional documentation and recording was carried out on the uncovered structures before further excavation began to take place. We finished for the day soon after this, but we had already begun to see changes in the soil composition. It is likely that most of the soil we had already removed was landslip from the adjacent peaks of the hill, so we were excited to get closer to the level of the fort’s original occupation. 

By the end of the day, it is safe to say we were exhausted, but the finds from both trenches had kept us energised to keep digging. We are all excited to see if we can establish the base of the rampart, if the arched line of stones holds any significance, and if we can uncover any other features in the remaining length of the trench. Hopefully tomorrow we will have a better understanding of the trench’s relationship with the rest of the site. 

If you missed yesterday’s post, have a read about our Day 1 here!

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