Today marked the end of week 1 of the Holyrood Archaeology field school, and we have made fantastic progress in all of our trenches. All of our students have gained experience in many different archaeological skills and are becoming more confident in identifying archaeological features. We ended Friday with trench tours, led by the students, which showed their grasp on the features in their trenches. Well done team!

Trench 3 – Caitlin

Our aims for the day were to take off the remaining colluvium to expose the stones underneath. There is a large rock deposit at the east end of the trench which we are aiming to figure out whether it is natural or it was placed intentionally. We found vitrified material within the deposit which makes us think it may be intentional. At the west end of the trench we have exposed more of the rampart, it may extend out more substantially than we anticipated. We have also discovered stone deposits in the middle of the trench where we had originally anticipated a large ditch so our aim for the next days of excavation are to clear out all the colluvium and determine if the stone deposits run under the ditch as well. There was heavy rain today around lunch time so we determined it too dangerous to continue with the excavation, so we waited out the rain in the canteen. We also got a basic introduction to metal detecting which was really cool, and we detected our spoil heaps. I also learnt how to accurately use the GPS system and how to take points using it.

Trench 5 – Emma

Today marked the end of our first week working on trench five. The aim for today was to first finish recording the trench before beginning to excavate deeper. We aimed to excavate deeper around the stone slabs to find whether or not they go deeper or only comprise of one layer. Any artefacts found in this next context may help us understand when and why this site was used. In the morning, we recorded the different contexts, took photographs to create a 3D model through photogrammetry, conducted some metal detecting of the spoil heaps, and created drawings of the trench. We also found some more animal bone, as well as some slag, which may indicate metalworking at this site. I learned today how archaeological drawings are created and improved on my troweling skills. Although the weather was a bit rainy, it’s exciting to see the trench coming along from the beginning of the week, and I’ve been happy to learn some new archaeological skills!

Trench 6 – Ryan Govan

Our aim for today was to continue to uncover more of the fallen rampart and then we started to remove some of the smaller stones in hope of uncovering the core of the rampart. We managed to reveal the majority of the fallen rampart, and we have also started to remove the smaller rocks to reveal the core of the rampart. We have continued to improve our trowel skills.

Trench 7 – Charlotte R

The Trench aims were to remove rubble and rocks from the trench and identify the different stratigraphic layers which was indicative of changes to dirt texture and colour. We have now removed most of the rubble which was able to be remove has been, making clear that many stones remaining could be part of a possible roundhouse feature, potentially a wall. Members in the trench were shown how to use the survey equipment to mark out each context in the trench. In the morning, we took time to ensure that finds were recorded and properly labelled, and reviewed the week’s finds from the trenches 7 and 8. Day 5 also marks the day we choose our trench name!  ‘The Party Rockers’.

Trench 8 – Maggie

We’re slowing things down today to take a closer look at the layers of trench exposed last year. Our goals were to complete surveying and recording context by the end of the day. We started the day with sketches, letting the students get comfortable with sketch techniques specific to archaeology. The rest of our time was split between context and survey. Surveying gave us a chance to gain a greater familiarity with the gps device in order to create a digital map of the trench and all its features. Creating the context records allowed us to become comfortable in the terminology and connect it to the trench we are working on.

We finished survey and context allowing us to pick back up with full enthusiasm for excavation. Everyone was looking forward to getting back into it, and we began to pull the rock layer off to expose underneath. The team ended the day with trench tours, getting an insight into everyone else’s progress.

If you’d like to see more of the site – check out our instagram and twitter accounts where we are posting daily updates and mini vlogs!

Come along to our open days on Saturday 2nd of September (11-2) and Wednesday 6th September (1-3) for guided tours and to see archaeologists at work!