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Date 29 February 2016 - 4 March 2016

Event ID 1024728

Category Recording

Type Excavation


NJ 0039 4955 (NJ04NW 5) As part of the Northern Picts project surveys and excavations have been undertaken in an area stretching from Aberdeenshire to Shetland targeting sites that can help contextualize the character of society in the early medieval period in northern Pictland. In Moray we have been evaluating a series of forts in the wider environs of Burghead to attempt to construct a regional chronological framework for the development of fortified enclosures.

Doune of Relugas fort lies in a bend of the River Divie near its confluence with the River Findhorn. The fort encloses an area c48m NW/SE by c27m NE/SW, surrounded by a heavily denuded rampart that shows traces of vitrification. There is a further rampart with an inner ditch to the N and W focused on the easier approaches to the summit. Fragments of Roman

pottery are said to have been found at the site in the past, and two ring-headed pins of late first millennium AD type are held within Marischal Museum, University of Aberdeen.

In the 2016 field season, 29 February – 4 March 2016, seven trenches were opened in the interior of the upper fort and two outside to the SE. The trenches in the interior identified extensive landscaping of the site with up to 1m of topsoil over in situ archaeological deposits. The most informative

trench was Trench 1 placed against the interior face of the N side of the upper enclosure rampart. The trench was 4 x 1m extending into the interior. Around 0.5m of garden soil from later landscaping was identified in this trench, overlying deposits of rubble and probable occupation layers. Two occupation layers were identified – the upper (context 106) was a compact dark sandy silt, separated from a lower occupation layer (108) by a deposit of fine sand. Parts of the rampart including vitrified stonework was found in the N part of the trench. Deposits of turf and a narrow ditch or palisade slot was found to cut through the interior occupation and rubble layers.

Radiocarbon dating has shown that the lower occupation layer dates to the 4th/3rd century cal BC and the upper the 7th/8th century cal AD. Material from the rampart returned a date from the late 9th or 10th century AD and the ditch or slot a 11th/12th century AD date. Trenches outside the main fort contained only natural or evidence of landscaping.

Archive: University of Aberdeen

Funder: University of Aberdeen

Gordon Noble and Oskar Sveinbjarnarson – University of Aberdeen

(Source: DES, Volume 17)

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