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Excavations at Birnie, Moray, 2009

By Fraser Hunter

Abstract

The 2009 excavations examined six roundhouses, three of which had burnt down. Several showed signs of later activity. Trench AL looked at burnt deposits uncovered in a previous trial trench. It revealed a substantial ring-ditch house, 16 m in diameter, which had been repaired and rebuilt before burning down, preserving some wonderful structural charcoal. Later activity in the same area included two stone hearths. In the east part of the trench, a small post-ring was located from a house c.7.6 m in diameter. In the SW corner a rectangular erosion scoop, perhaps a yard, was found. Isolated features included one which had a large fragment of a fired clay structure, perhaps from a kiln or furnace, dumped in it.\ud Further work on the trench D burnt-down house confirmed the phasing from 2008, and added further detail- notably what seems to be a collapsed partition from the reuse of the building. To the east, trench AM produced another burnt-down ring-ditch house, c. 13.5 m in diameter. Again there was evidence of later activity, with a hearth set into the destruction deposits, although with no surviving trace of any associated structure. Trench AN returned to roundhouse N and revealed a complex, lengthy sequence of post-roundhouse use, including hints of an overlying, lightly built structure around a cooking pit.\ud An unusual house was revealed in trench AP. This exposed a building which seems to have two entrances. It comprises a ring-groove 10.2 m in diameter, with no internal post-ring for support the wall took all the weight. Again there was evidence of activity after the house had become structurally unsound. Two further trenches (AO and AQ) confirmed the eastern extent of the site, with a marked fall-off in feature density. AO included an enigmatic small enclosure with a large pit dug through its centre.\ud Among a rich range of finds, pride of place goes to a Romano-British penannular brooch from trench AM.\ud In a separate, short season earlier in the year, further work was carried out on the medieval corn kiln on the site's western edge, while a trial trench down the hill on which Birnie Kirk sits revealed a tantalising wealth of archaeology.\u

Topics: CC Archaeology
Publisher: National Museums Scotland
Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:repository.nms.ac.uk:161

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