Day 9: Questions & Answers (but mostly Questions)

Wednesday was a little mixed weather-wise with moments of beautiful sunshine, and a bright blue Moray Firth, but in among the trees at the top of the hill it was cold and dark. BrrrrIt was also a day in which the trenches seemed to throw up as many questions as they provided answers…

In Trench D (on the north side of the hill) we’ve been very excited by what looks like evidence for a wooden stake driven through the external bank of the ditch. Down in the sandy natural ground it has dissolved almost entirely, but left fine traces of charcoal where it had likely been fire-hardened. Further up, the wood has also disappeared but left a white area where it may have rotted away in the topsoil. Could it have been part of a palisade around the external perimeter site, such as those at Durn Hill and (probably) Little Conval? Leanne extended the trench one meter along the line of the bank but so far it looks like there may just be the single post so another explanation may be necessary. We’re also extending the trench uphill to see if we can find any trace of fortification further up. Could the stakes be any higher? 😉

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Post pipe, Trench D.
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Leanne and Nick working down through an extension to Trench D.

Over in Trench E, on a terrace near the top of the hill, we’re still trying to figure out what the mysterious raised bank of dark earth is, but we’ve also come across what could be a paved area of flat stones – some of which may be fire-cracked. We’ll be cleaning that up on Thursday to find out more about it. Stay tuned.

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Could this be paving in Trench E?

Trench C has been exciting all throughout the Dig, as we try to understand whether there is a stone bank on the outside of the ditch. It now seems as though the bright red sandy soil containing the ‘bank’ of stones runs at least part of the way down the outside slope and is covered in thick band of grey material with a mixture of charcoal. So could it be that what we thought was a bank, is actually a larger area covered in stones that was simply truncated when they dug the ditch?

Fortunately, over in Trench A, John and Christine helped resolve one riddle. By extending the middle of it to the East we’ve learned that the loose arrangement of stones in the higher levels of the ditch are where it was filled in after being re-cut at some point. And it was time to say a fond farewell to Trench B – the site of the very first excavation of Cluny Hill, by the students of Forres Academy in 1972. If you took part in that (or know someone who did), then please get in touch – we’d love to know more about it!

Speaking of students – most of Drumduan School seemed to join us for a tour on their very last day of term. We hope you all enjoyed it as much as we’ve enjoyed being here. And that reminds me that we’ve not got much longer ourselves. With two days left to go, there’s plenty to do to make sure everything is cleaned, photographed, drawn, sampled, back-filled and left just as we found it by the time we wrap on Friday afternoon. And don’t forget we’ll be leading our last tour at 1.00pm on Friday too, so if you haven’t visited us already, don’t miss your chance!

 

Tour
Drumduan School get the full low-down on the ‘hill next door’

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