Initial Fieldwork in the Irvine Valley



Initial field walking and revisiting of recorded sites along the banks of the Rivers Irvine and Garnock began in January this year as a consequence of the inspiring work carried out by ACFA member Richard Pugh on Dundonald Castle which he is planning to expand into a wider study of the Irvine Valley embracing place name studies and the concentrations of prehistoric and Early Historic activity.

In this work we hope also to complement and revisit the early ACFA Occasional Paper 23 by Jim Mair, Anne Wood and Gerry Hearns of 1996, which has survey plans and descriptions of over thirty sites in the middle valley.

The survey is an occasional walkover convened by a small team on an ad hoc basis and a short presentation was given at the post-Xmas bash which encouraged interest from some further members.

The first study area being covered is along the lower reaches of the River Garnock from which AD 19C antiquarian reports note a rich record of prehistoric cists, cairns, flint scatters, a possible crannog, some Anglo Saxon strap ends and an Arabic dirham. This suggests the tantalising possibility of early beach emporiums in this area of shifting sand dunes, river systems and islands. The Ardeer or Stevenston Sands area has been probably irrevocably compromised by almost a century of Nobel and ICI explosive complexes creating a rapidly deteriorating massive industrial archaeological landscape rapidly being reclaimed by nature.

No formal survey is possible in these circumstances and days out have involved small teams re-visiting those sites which are in the Canmore record, recording their current state, identifying any new sites immediately connected with the river environment and trying work out the topography of this dynamic and scarred landscape.

Contact: Margaret Gardiner, Libby King, Gerry Hearns or Ian Marshall for more Information.


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