For once, the AOC Archaeology team has arrived in Assynt to see it as it usually is, radiant under a blue sky. The team of Graeme and Charlotte, plus six volunteers, were all stripped down to tee shirts by the time I got there. It’s remarkable how much ground eight people can clear of turf in just one hour. I was handed a mattock and got down to some serious earth shifting and before too long, I was hitting stones that were undoubtedly some sort of structure.
What sort of structure? I asked Graeme what he is expecting to find. The site is a possibly-moated platform, with a embankment around that, and we were digging into the ditch around it, so this may be the start of the wall of whatever was inside the moat on the platform. The plan is to dig quite deeply down, possibly to 2 metres below the top of the embankment, and who knows what we’ll discover. That’s the magic of archaeology!
Within a few minutes I was into the rhythm of it, the shovel and mattock keeping the body active and the mind free to roam and speculate. Nearby is the graveyard and beyond it, the old kirk. A fragmented stone cross has been found here, its design suggesting that it could be more than a thousand years old. Moated sites like the one we are digging are often found to be mediaeval, and so we hope it may shed some light on what was going on here in that period. Was there a monastery here?
The great news is that this gorgeous sunny weather is supposed to be set for the week. I was dreading the idea of a week in a ditch full of rain and mud, but whatever it is that has cursed previous digs with deluges and storms seems to be looking kindly on this one. So far…