Holyrood Archaeology 2023 – Day 9
Today the students were visited by Trevor Cowie, who shared with them the discovery of bronze age axe heads found at the site in 1996. Find out what the students have learnt and how their trenches have progressed!
Trench 3 – Caitlin
Our main objective for our trench today was to investigate the mound deposit at the eastern end of the trench. We found that the bedrock had been cut to create a terraced formation which may relate to obtaining stone for the rampart that was later built. We also wanted to partially deconstruct the rampart to get a better idea of its construction. We were focusing on digging a slot down towards the rampart to investigate the stratigraphy on one side. We also had a visit from Trevor Cowie, a bronze age expert, who was giving us a talk about bronze age axe heads found near to trench 5. It’s been a very interesting day, especially discovering the flat terrace formation this afternoon. I’ve become more confident identifying different layers within soil today as we were aiming to stop digging at natural soil and bedrock.
Trench 5 – Abby
Today’s objective is to expose the bedrock by excavating the surrounding soil and seeing how it connects to the remains of the stone structure at one end of the trench. In a recent video interview, I expressed my personal interest in uncovering ancient human remains, as long as they do not impede our primary investigation. I wonder if any Iron Age or prehistoric human remains have had their genomes sequenced, and if they left much of a genetic legacy on the current population of Scotland. We continue to yield primarily bones and teeth, but one plain shard of pottery was also found.
Dr. Trevor Cowie, former curator of National Museums Scotland, paid us a visit to inform us of elaborately adorned axe heads from the Bronze Age discovered in 1996. These findings suggest that the site likely held ritual significance rather than being a place of casual disposal. There is a possibility that this section of Holyrood Park served as a location to observe celestial events, possibly including midsummer events.
Trench 6 Ryan
Today we’ve dug a slot through the North eastern corner of the trench. Initial thoughts were that the rampart consisted of a stone rubble core however, we now believe that the rampart consists of a clay bank with stones placed on top. We have also continued defining the bedrock on the west of the trench and its relationship with the stone top. We also had some luminescence dating done which we hope will aid in dating the rampart. Today has helped to increase my confidence when using large hand tools such as mattocks and shovels.