Bailies Dig Into History on Pittodrie Estate

August 2021

Finds from the 10th Century and perhaps even from Neolithic times have been found during an archeological dig on the Pittodrie House Hotel estate on the lower slopes of Bennachie.

Fifteen successful days of digging are ending this week with the site now being filled in. The excavations are part of the ‘Bennachie Landscapes Project’ run by the Bailies of Bennachie in conjunction with the University of Aberdeen. A group of enthusiastic volunteers took part under the watchful eye of archaeologist Iain Ralston.

Bailies archaeologist, Colin Shepherd said:

"This has been an exciting dig as we have made further inroads into trying to understand a series of mysterious landscape features in the grounds of Pittodrie Estate. A large enclosure beneath the historic ‘Bede House’ was sectioned in a number of places to try and understand the nature of the site and to attempt to find dating evidence. A stone built structure within the enclosure has given up a piece of charcoal and this should lead to a determination of its date and relationship with the larger enclosure."

"Overlooking this enclosure is an unusual mound that, in 2019, produced charcoal dated to the 10th Century. Stone and timber structures were discovered this year that had both met a fiery end. It is hoped that charcoal found within these remains may clarify the dates of these structures."

"Within the foundation stones of one of the walls were pieces of finely-worked masonry and a fascinating ‘engraved’ carving on a slate-like stone. This was just a fragment of a larger piece that had been engraved with fine, concentric circles. The purpose of the stone is, as yet, unknown but it bears similarities to a neolithic engraving discovered in Denmark. In 2019 a piece of late neolithic or early bronze age pottery was found in one of the trenches on the mound."

With so much left to discover the Bailies of Bennachie hope the dig can resume next summer. Two public guides to the dig took place which were well attended.

A huge debt of thanks are owed to Macdonald Hotels for permission to carry out these excavations in their grounds and to the estate manager Damian Lapeta for all his help in making the project run smoothly.

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Pittodrie Carving