Holyrood Archaeology 2023 – Day 2
Today was an exciting day for many of the Edinburgh University students – we finished deturfing our four trenches, and students were able to use their trowels (some for the first time). Each of our trenches have now had their first find, so students have been introduced to recording techniques.
Read about the progress from each of our trenches from the perspective of the students, below!
Trench 5 – Leah M
Today marked the second day of our excavation on trench 5 at Dunsapie hill fort. Although made slightly more challenging by strong winds hitting us at the top of the hill, the team all still worked together to meet our goals for the day. The focuses of today mainly included continuing the work from yesterday, with the group split in half working to clear the soil that surrounded the bedrock at the top of the trench and the other half working to clear the topsoil. After a good rest and lunch spirits were substantially lifted after our first find in trench 5! An animal bone was found which lead to us experiencing how to label, document and identify our finds for the first time. Although the constant moving of dirt and soil could become slightly tedious and left some of us with a few aches and pains, it was rewarding work especially after the excitement of the first find in the trench and also getting to share the details of our exaction with the general public who were fascinated by our dig – it is always very exciting to share our passions with others who may be interested. It is fair to say everyone is excited to see what else we may find as the days progress and eager to start excavating ancient layers!
Trench 6 – Morven
Our aims for today are to uncover the mound in the middle of our trench and to characterise the trench. To do this we want to finish de-turfing the trench and to remove the top layer of soil as well as evening it out. We were able to finish de-turfing the trench fairly early on in the day. We then moved on to using mattocks to try and remove all the left-over vegetation and to even out the trench. Next, we used a krafsa to further remove the layer of topsoil. Even during the de-turfing we were able to uncover large stones which we believe may make up a wall. In order to uncover these further, we used trowels to remove the soil around them and excavate deeper. All of the practical skills I’ve been using today are completely new to me. It was a lot of hard work using all the tools, particularly the mattocks, but learning how to use them correctly made it slightly easier. I have definitely become more confident identifying stones that have been displaced from the wall.
Trench 7 – Caitlin
Our aims for the day were to clear out the topsoil covering the tarp that’s over the top of the stone wall. The tarp was put there by last years excavation after they had finished. We managed to clear most of the trench, only the deepest part needs finished tomorrow. Initially we used the mattocks to break apart the top layers of topsoil. Then we went in with shovels and trowels to move the soil in to bags off the sides of the trenches. It was interesting to learn how to tell the difference between topsoil and the layer below it. The tarp being there made it more clear when we had to stop digging. We also found a possible bullet casing which we were excited about! It’s been an interesting day and I can’t wait to take the tarp off to see what is underneath.
Keep up to date with our social media channels for updates throughout each day!