A Hillfort on the Edge of Empire
( 10th – 21st July 2017)
For more information, or to book your place ( you will require a £200 deposit) please contact the co-directors David Connolly & Murray Cook at: firstname.lastname@example.org We can then help you join this last season on the remarkable Southern SCottish Site, set in the glorious landscape of East Lothian – only 25 minutes from Edinburgh.
Help uncover the story!
Destroyed in antiquity and appearing on no maps, Sheriffside was only rediscovered in 1981. Aerial photography picked up the parch marks of a large double ditched enclosure lying under pasture land and measuring over 150m in diameter.
Initial trial excavations in 2010 and 2012 showed that the site was a complex hillfort, containing a series of ditches, banks and palisades spanning nearly 1000 years between 600BC and 400AD. Its position on the end of a ridge near the village of Gifford, 20 miles to the east of Edinburgh, offers a 360 degree panorama taking in landmarks such as the Lammermuir hills to the south, Pentland hills to the west and the Kingdom of Fife to the north.
Join us and help uncover Sheriffside’s story.
Students and volunteers are welcome to join us for our largest and last season of research at this site.
Aims for 2017:
- To explore the site’s main entrance, identified by geophysics in the 2016 season
- Attempt to complete a chronology for occupation.
- Learn more about the defences, enclosing banks and palisades.
- We hope to excavate a large 20m x 20m section of the site, taking in parts of the interior, hopefully the ditch terminals and perhaps even more occupational platforms and gather both stratigraphic data and charcoal for c14 dating analysis.
- Dates: 10th – 21st July 2016
- Location: East Lothian, Scotland (approx. 25 miles east of Edinburgh).
- Contribution: £795UK pounds includes accommodation, food and transport to and from site. (You are responsible for travel to the centre of Edinburgh where you will be picked up at the beginning and dropped off at the end of the project, unless other arrangements have been made with the site directors). (N.B. Deposit of £200 is non-refundable)
- Project type: Open to students and volunteers (minimum age accepted: 17 years old) – places are limited so early booking is recommended.
Accommodation: Several rooms with bunks in a large building with kitchen facilities, showers and garden space. All meals are provided in the cost. Additional extras are the responsibility of the participant and trips to local stores will be available. (Access to wireless internet can be obtained close by)
- Experience required: None, as professional archaeologists will always be on-site to provide advice and support. Occasional talks on various aspects of archaeological field-craft will be given. If you do have experience and wish to build on this, please talk to the site directors about aspects of archaeological practice that you may wish to learn more about.
- Other activities: Trips will include a visit to the ruins of 14th century Hailes castle, the amazing 18th century Pineapple House at Amisfield Walled Garden the Romano-British fort at Traprain Law and more.
- Learning: It is up to you what you take from the experience but the opportunity is there to learn field-skills such as photography, planning, section drawing, excavation and recording in a real-time situation. ( Skills Passports will be available for those wishing to log their training in a structured course)
- What to wear: Scottish weather can change at any time. Sometimes there are four seasons in one day. It is therefore recommended that you come prepared with warm, light-weight clothing, a waterproof coat and stout boots, sun block and a hat. The site is relatively exposed and even in the height of summer it can sometimes get cold, windy and wet. Be prepared to work through most weather conditions.
For more information, or to book your place contact the co-directors, David Connoly & Murray Cook at: email@example.com
A changing site
The function of this site will have changed over a millennium of activity and we attempt to understand this by investigating the chronology of construction and destruction that took place. Keyhole excavation in 2012 uncovered a massive 9 metre wide and 3 metre deep ditch which was constructed after 360AD.
In AD 367 Roman Britain was attacked simultaneously by the Picts, Gaels, Irish and Saxons. The Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus called it ‘barbarica conspiratio’ – a ‘barbarian conspiracy’.
The ‘Picts’ War’ saw damaging attacks on Hadrian’s Wall and Marcellinus states that the Picts were ‘roving at large and causing great devastation’.
Therefore, it is entirely possible that the massive ditch at Sheriffside was built for defence against a threat that relates to the collapse of the Roman presence in Britain. The area which is now East Lothian lies between the Firth of Forth and Hadrian’s Wall and would have been extremely vulnerable to attack by the northern tribes.
Read more detailed article: Manning the ramparts: a hillfort on the edge of Empire
Read our handy Guide to Rampart Scotland projects