Our students (with AOC Archaeology) have returned for another week of excavation at Dunsapie Hillfort. By the end of our first week, we had opened 5 trenches, and recovered almost 100 finds! The students were excited to continue excavation of their trenches and help to answer some of our research questions about the site of Dunsapie Hillfort.

Tati’s Experience

It was another surprisingly sunny day at Dunsapie Hillfort, potentially the last of the good weather for the week so we had to make the most of it. Trench 1 made good progress last week and picked up where they left off. They continued to trowel around the edge of the rampart to try and establish it’s extent, and they uncovered numerous animals bones. These included, mandibles, ribs and a pieces of skull – which we have uncovered a large number of. They also started to dig some of the larger boulders which was ‘floating’ by itself in the soil. They needed to remove it to ensure it was not a part of the outer inner wall. Cannel coal was also found in the trench which could have potentially been used in the making of jewellery. 

Trench 2 we’re continuing to remove the soil, layer by layer. We also created a section to gather soil for analysis. The section was chosen as it seems to be a continuation of the wall where the stones have been removed at an earlier date. We are gathering soil to see whether we are able to date it – we are looking for organic materials such as charcoal to provide an accurate date of the finds and the wall. Towards the end of the day we took some photographs for our general records and then took a series of images for photogrammetry in order to create a 3D model of the trench. 

Shreya’s Experience

Trench 4 has been busy and lots of progress was made today, as we removed the last of the top soil  from the trench. This took a bit of work (i.e lots of shovelling) as the layer of top soil was quite deep. Since the trench sits on a hollow, sloping down towards one end, natural movement of the soil had caused this deep layer to accumulate over the years. We uncovered a lot of artefacts in this surface strata. Following last week’s trend, plenty of bone fragments were found, which we are starting to identify for ourselves. This included joints, ribs, and mandibular pieces such as jaw bones and teeth. Other finds included sea shells, mortar and slag. A rounded piece of cannel coal, which was used in jewellery making, was also found! In the process of removing the top soil, we found some circular depressions near the lower end of the trench which we believe may be post holes.

After removing all the top soil, we took photos of the trench from various angles for photogrammetry. This would allow for further interpretation of the trench and for a 3D model of it to be made. 
Finally, we removed tumbled stones from the trench to allow a clearer view of the ramparts. The resultant pile of stones was quite impressive. We will continue to remove any floating stones and clean the soil around the rampart in the following days.

Trench 7 and 8
Trench 7 and 8 are situated quite close to each other and in the same stage of the excavation process. Both trenches have removed the top soil and are currently clearing around the rocks of the two banks that run through the trenches. One of these banks is the outer wall of the enclosure while the other is an inner wall, forming a structure whose entrance is situated in trench 8. Two pieces of cannel coal were found in trench 8, signalling human activity!

Check out our previous blog posts and a round up of our first week excavating here!

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