Highland Archaeology Services - Latest News
01 August 2008Another successful season at Applecross
The two-week dig, which finished last weekend, was the fifth season of archaeological excavations of an Iron Age broch at Applecross in Wester Ross, led by the Applecross Archaeology Society supported by professional archaeologists and volunteers from the North of Scotland Archaeology Society (NOSAS). It was supported and sponsored by Highland Archaeology Services Ltd, and local freelance archaeologists Cathy Dagg, Mary Peteranna and Cait McCullagh with assistance from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The programme started with an investigation by Channel 4’s Time Team in 2005, and it aims to enable local volunteers of all ages to work alongside professional archaeologists to uncover, interpret and display the broch for future visitors.
Brochs are sophisticated massive towers dating from about 2000 years ago and are found only in Scotland. At Applecross, only the grass and rubble covered footings remain. The archaeologists had previously uncovered about half of the site. This year a further quarter was uncovered.
It is now possible to see that the site has been inhabited during at least three different phases. They have uncovered additional intramural galleries and wall passages, and slab steps and paved areas—continued evidence that the broch was altered to accommodate a later phase of occupation. At the same time, the archaeologists are seeing more evidence of an earlier and larger structure below the broch. "Whereas last year we thought we uncovered a souterrain entrance, this year we can see it's another entrance, probably pre-broch," says archaeologist Mary Peteranna. "Based on what we have uncovered below the outer broch wall this year and last year, it is possible that an earlier roundhouse structure was built on the site, and much of the building material from it was taken to build a broch on top of it. So this could have been the entrance into the earlier structure."
With the support of Sheildaig's Lisa O'Brien, Cultural Coordinator for Schools in Ross and Cromarty, children from schools based throughout the Wester Ross and Skye areas were invited throughout the the dig to come and try-out as young archaeologists, working on the artefacts found at the site and digging in the trenches.
With help from Karen Hudson of Archaeolink, the children also got a real taste of the Iron Age diet, baking flat bread on hot stones around a reconstructed hearth-as well as Iron Age stick wrestling, creating their own Iron Age storytelling sessions, and using some of the recent finds from the dig and their knowledge and ideas about what it might have been like to live in a broch to bring to life their own ideas of how people lived in Applecross more than 2,000 years ago.
The community-led project aims to increase understanding of the region's history as well as the culture of the Scottish Iron Age. This year's season has left the enthusiastic volunteers and archaeologists reluctant to leave the site and the many unanswered questions that must await further work. Fundraising for this is currently in progress.
Some of the artefacts will be on view at the Applecross Heritage Centre and reports on the work are in preparation. For further information on results, or how to support or take part in the project, please contact us