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Auchtercairn Hut Circle (2), Gairloch
Oct 21 set up/ Oct 27 clear up
- Oct 22-26 Dig
- Oct 23rd Open day and Kinlochewe Primary school visit
- Oct 24th Gairloch Primary and Sheildaig Primary school visits
- Oct 24th Gairloch High School visit
This tumbled circle of stones, half heather-hidden,
is no accident but the ancient bones
of a home where flesh and blood lived and loved,
worked, raised children, endured and enjoyed.
Shuffle these stones, chest-high, arm-spread wide,
to shape the wall; look to the rising sun
for the entrance; echoing its warmth and light
set the smoky hearth at the heart of the house.
Find trees and then more trees to raise the roof:
fasten firm posts and rafters, ring-beams and purlins,
porch for protection; and finish with thatch thick-laid.
Stand back, admire: your roundhouse is rebuilt.
Or else try deconstruction — spade and trowel
exhuming the bones, trenching for tiny traces
of human activity: ancient tools, techniques,
the precious discards from their daily life.
Sample the soil, pick charcoal from the hearthfire;
seek occupation horizons, paving, post-holes;
measure and map each part in profile and plan.
Stand back, admire: your roundhouse is revealed.
Yet this rough ring of stones is but the bones
of a home, its flesh and blood long ago gone.
Build or dig, we can not find what's lost.
Of lives lived here three thousand years ago,
the empty shell is all that we can know.
Jeremy Fenton (Volunteer)
See Finds and Results for initial
Contact us about this dig or the project...
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NG 80609 77081
Sunday Oct 21st
Brilliant sunshine! Seven volunteers turned up and valiantly carted the mass
of essential equipment to the site. Then the main trench was marked out and
removal of peat and turf began. A late foray up the hill produced almost
aerial photos of the site and a wonderful sunset vista over the sea.
Monday Oct 22nd
More brilliant sunshine—and more volunteers. Martin arrived and the trench
deepened. A hearth was uncovered butting against the inner wall face—an odd
place to have a fire! A trench was begun inside the nearby smaller circular
structure, ready for the children to trowel. Cake arrived for teabreaks but
morale was high anyway in the sunshine.
Tuesday Oct 23rd
Sunny again! Kinlochewe Primary School visited and were shown how to trowel
and how to measure and draw the circular structure. The main trench
continued to deepen with the efforts of numerous volunteers. Charcoal was
found and cracked stone. Cake still popular.
Wed Oct 24th
Sunny but turning colder. A busy day; Sheildaig and Gairloch Primary Schools
visited and enjoyed trowelling , drawing and working out what was happening
in the landscape. The main trench was fully excavated revealing different
stages of building and occupation, (see results report). Two post holes were
identified, one with a smooth postpad stone at its base. The trench in the
adjacent structure was extended by a dogleg section which included the
central area. An area of small cobbles was uncovered.
Thurs Oct 25th
Bitterly cold—and just after 6 keen volunteers from Gairloch High School
arrived a squall of icy rain blew in. All persevered bravely with tasks of
trowelling, planetabling the smaller structure, and taking scaled
photographs. They found quartz flakes and chunks as well as charcoal
fragments and a concretion of iron. . There was great excitement when a tiny
‘worked’ white flake was identified amongst the quartz after sieving. On
closer examination it was found to be a flake of eraser which had been
cleaned by cutting with a penknife whilst the trench was being planned!
A windbreak was erected for the welcome teabreak, with cake of course.
Meanwhile the main trench was planned and a section drawn which helped to
elucidate the different stages of the building. Volunteers worked in the
smaller structure and uncovered more quartz chunks and an area of charcoal
rich soil. Then the main trench was backfilled and the equipment carted back
to base by volunteers who were weary and cold, although the exertion warmed
Friday Oct 26th
Bitterly cold but fine to begin with. Two volunteers continued in the
smaller structure and investigated a possible hearth area. However a
snowstorm cut the work short—fingers felt as though they had frostbite and
cake was all gone. Work to be continued weather permitting.
Monday Oct 29th
Rain all weekend. The forecast was Monday was for sun and no rain. Rain came
down by the bucketful. The flooded trench was bailed out continuously by one
volunteer while two others drew a plan and tried to excavate further.
Finally a section was drawn and the trench was abandoned. When the weather
is better there will be another attempt to work here.
NEW EXCITING RESULTS!
The results are back from the radiocarbon tests analysed by SUERC.
Go to Radiocarbon Results page for more