Bid for New Dig on Bennachie

February 2011

Archaeologists apply for grant

Article By David McKay - Published: 05/02/2011 in The Press and Journal

Thousands of years of hidden north-east history could be uncovered if a plan for further archaeological work at Bennachie is approved.

Dr Gordon Noble, from Aberdeen University's department of archaeology, has submitted a grant application to the Royal Society of Edinburgh on behalf of a joint group, including local conservationists the Bailies of Bennachie and Aberdeenshire Council.
The area is known to be rich in historic sites, including Pictish and Iron Age hill forts, a Roman camp and evidence of what has been described as the Bennachie Colony, a more recent settlement dating back to the early 1800s.

If the grant bid is successful, a project manager would be employed to oversee the operation.
Dr Noble said the next step would be to start with three small-scale evaluation excavations at different sites on and around the hill. “This will give us a better idea of what kind of remains are there. We would then be able to make assessments with a view to doing more long-term work,” he said. “Myself and colleagues have been interested in this area for a number of years. There is nothing concrete as yet, but if we are able to secure the grant, it would be good for the university and good for the community as well.”
Fiona Banks, Garioch area ranger for Aberdeenshire Council, has been hosting events on the Bennachie Colony throughout the winter, and said further work may help clear up misconceptions of the settlement. “This is a group that has been described as undesirable or as squatters, but a lot of the stories about the colony don’t quite ring true.

The proposed dig would follow a number of smaller excavations around Bennachie in recent years. In 2008, a team of archaeologists uncovered remains of a castle under a mound near the Rowantree car park confirming settlement in the area from 7,000BC up to mediaeval times.

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