Balbithan 2014

Site recording at Balbithan © Stuart Dinning

Within Balbithan wood in Aberdeenshire, lies a collection of at least 28 prehistoric hut-circles and numerous clearance cairns. Test pitting has also revealed evidence of Mesolithic activity. Balbithan wood is operated by the Forestry Commission and mainly consists of conifer plantation but it also contains remnant oaks and yews from when the area was more open. Dykes and farm buildings are associated with a 19th century plan and post-medieval rig and furrow is still visible.

The huts were built on marginal land at a time when due to slightly warmer temperatures it was possible to farm for longer and on poorer ground. As the climate worsened the houses were abandoned and gradually collapsed leaving tell-tale circular mounds 10-15 m in diameter. Avoided by subsequent farmers who built and farmed around them, the hut remains eventually became preserved within the forest itself.


Planning one of the roundhouse trenches. © Stuart Dinning

Planning one of the roundhouse trenches. © Stuart Dinning

The Balbithan Prehistoric Landscape Project is a five year programme of archaeological research aimed at dating these huts and recovering as much information as possible. Previous season’s results have indicated lithic technologies ranging from Mesolithic to Bronze Age. In addition, c14 dating has already confirmed that three of the circular huts date to c 1500 BC.

The training is relaxed and easy going and you can learn as much or as little as you want to. You will have the opportunity to excavate archaeological remains that have never been examined before.

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For more information, or to book your place contact the Project director Murray Cook at:

The Balbithan Prehistoric Landscape Project is directed by Murray Cook and run in partnership with Forestry Commission Scotland