Arran Trip October 2021

Twenty five members and partners had fun exploring the archaeology of Arran. Sites visited included King’s Cross Dun and Viking Grave, the stone circles of Machrie Moor, King’s Caves, Torrylinn and Auchengallon cairns and the Drumadoon enclosure where members debated the status of a stone – standing stone or cattle rubbing stone. Finds of Neolithic pottery and its proximity to the recently excavated cursus brought the weight of opinion down on standing stone.

The Drumadoon standing stone?
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Forthcoming ACFA Zoom talks

Our first Zoom talk was a exploration of the archaeology of Ben Hynish, Tiree from member Dugie MacInnes. A chronological account of features recorded during ACFA’s surveys, Dugie’s talk covered features from putative Mesolithic rock shelters through Neolithic and Bronze Age cairns, Iron Age duns to 19th and 20th century agricultural remains.

Coming up are:

March 11 7.30pm Kenneth Tomory “The Farms of the Dukes of Hamilton, through the rental records of the Hamilton estate.

April 1 7.30pm Simon Davies “The Intertidal Archaeology of Coastal Uist”

April 21 7.30pm Mary Braithwaite PhD FSA Scot “Curiosities on Luing”

Non-members are welcome to join us. Email acfacommitte@gmail.com for invitation.

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South Uist

One of our newest members is Simon Davies from South Uist. He has worked recording areas of the island since retiring producing some interesting results. His most recent work is an examination of Triallabreac agus na h-eileanan eile Port Pheadair (Triallabreac and the other islands of Petersport, Benbecula) which you can read below. We look forward to future collaborations with Simon.

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Masons’ Marks

ACFA member Ross Wallace’s MRes thesis: Leaving a Mark on History is the fruit of four years of intensive survey and analysis of medieval mason marks from central and southern Scotland. Ross was assisted by fellow members of ACFA, GAS, and many students of archaeology at Glasgow University.

Sites at which ACFA was particularly involved included Paisley and Crossraguel Abbeys and most intensively at Glasgow Cathedral, plus Crookston and Bothwell Castles. Among many happy memories most special are the days in Glasgow Cathedral in winter as the visitors departed and we worked in the silence and dusk with hand torches and record sheets, drawing, photographing and recording in the aisles, chapels, nave and choir, then up through the turret stairs, clerestories and triforium galleries. Privileged access to areas unknown to the public and best of all – one spring morning, when, with the cathedral’s head stonemason, we were taken out on to the roof of the choir with heart-stopping views over the Necropolis, Glasgow and the hills to the north and south.

Ross hopes that this corpus proves useful – only volume one, more work hopefully next summer- if only as a reference hand tool for any mason marks in your own part of the country encountered in your archaeological wanderings.

Recording team at Crookston Castle, Ross Wallace, centre. Photo Ian Marshall

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Latest Covd-19 advice

While ACFA recognises that it is an individual member’s responsibility to comply with guidance issued by the Scottish Government as it attempts to limit the damage caused by the Covid pandemic, we will endeavour nevertheless, to keep members advised of the current state of play as it affects ACFA activities.

Sadly, archaeological field survey work does not fall into the category of “essential purpose”, so is not exempt from the current rules and guidelines. Furthermore, travel into or out of Tiers 3 (and 4) would now be classified as illegal, and consequently outwith ACFA’s (and probably personal) insurance cover. Consequently, we strongly advise ACFA members not to participate in field work, outside their own home Local Authority area, at this time. Maybe there is archival or publication preparation work that can be undertaken in the warmth and safety of our homes?

Of course, there may be exceptions to the “essential purpose” guidelines; for example, building and construction work that impinges on archaeologically sensitive areas may allow pre-construction survey work to be re-classified as “essential” work. That, however, has still to be tested. Please let us know if you are likely to be engaged in any such work, and we will help to establish if this is permitted. However, it will still remain advisable to avoid car-sharing.

And, of course, the landowners’ wishes must be respected, as always.