Today marked the first day back at Dunsapie Hillfort for the Holyrood Archaeology Project. A new cohort of students from the University of Edinburgh joined staff from AOC Archaeology at Dunsapie loch ahead of our first day in the field.

For many of our students, this is their first excavation, having just finished their first year of their undergraduate degree. The morning was filled with excitement, as the team were introduced and the plans for the season ahead were laid out.

Four students in a trench wearing high vis vests. They are crouched in a row with trowels in hand excavating top soil

To begin, the students were given a tour of the Holyrood park. The park, which is a scheduled monument, has over 110 archaeological sites, so it was important to first look at the history and chronology of the park to contextualise our site.

The excavations at Dunsapie Hillfort carry on from last year’s season (see last year’s blog posts here!). The excavations are a training school for University of Edinburgh students, and also aim to assess the survival of the archaeology at the site. Trenches are situated based on 2021 survey work, and aim to uncover the rampart as well as a scoop settlement.

Once the students finished their tour of the park, they were given an induction – which included some of the finds from last year’s trenches, to familiarise themselves with the types of artefacts they may uncover this season.

It was then time to start work, by setting out the trenches and beginning to deturf. Students were shown how to survey the location of the trenches, before removing the turf and starting to clean the topsoil.

Two of our trenches carry on from the 2022 season, and we’re excited to see new developments in these trenches, whilst two more have been set out in new areas.

The students will be posting daily blogs with the aims and progress from each of the trenches – so keep your eyes peeled on the website and our social media for updates throughout this season!

Blog by Emily Johnston