ACTIVITIES AND RESULTS
Pupils took part in a study of the parish of Keig. This involved studying documentary and cartographic evidence dating from the 16th to the late 18th century. These documents give a view of how the land was used and how it changed during this period. Fieldwork on the Castle Forbes Estate demonstrated the fossilised survival of important elements of this landscape within an area of woodland. The pupils initiated a programme of excavation of some of these features. This work work was continued over three weekends by volunteers from the Bennachie Landscapes fieldwork group. A section was put across an eighteenth century road, believed to be the first non-military road sectioned from this period in the county. The section showed a made ‘metalled’ surface with flanking ditches and dykes. Many questions concerning its construction and use have been posed by this work and the previously commonly-held view, prompted by the writings of Grant of Monymusk, that no such thing as a road existed in the area prior to the ‘Improvements’ is now open to serious debate. Two 18th century mills are shown from an estate plan to have been in existence in this limited area in the 18th century. Fieldwork has now found a separate lade, presumably related to another mill within the woodland. A section across this showed a well-cut lade in a wonderful state of preservation. Though nothing is shown on the 1st Edition OS map of the mid 18th century, a slightly earlier map by Thomson for 1832 appears to show the three mills in existence at the same time. One suggestion is that the middle structure was a short-lived saw-mill. Ongoing work hopes to be able to find the foundations related to this early mill and to determine its use.
The findings of the pupils at Keig were exhibited with the help of Liz and Neil Curtis with the help of Kings’ Museum ‘cabinet of curiosities’. The students attended a workshop at Kings considering questions of curatorial procedure and were helped to put on their own display for the local community by Liz Curtis.
Work continued over the winter months with the pupils cleaning, cataloguing and describing their finds. This was completed using spreadsheets supplied by the University of Aberdeen and in accordance with the project’s methodology. With the better weather the pupils have now returned to the site. The younger ones are shovel-pitting in the area of two structures recorded on the 18th century estate plan and the older ones are beginning to carry out a detailed survey of the earthwork remains by means of taped offsets.
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