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2000 RCAHMS Aerial Survey

Date 1 January 2000 - 31 December 2000

Event ID 545627

Category Project

Type Project


The period from November 1999 to October 2000 saw some improvement on the poor conditions of the previous three years. A dry first half of May and an average rainfall in June favoured the creation of crop stress in some eastern parts of Scotland, leading to the best cropmark season since 1996. During 123 hours in the air 1121 sites were recorded – a marked increase over the previous year.

The late autumn and winter of 1999–2000 saw only a few days with suitable conditions for survey, and efforts were directed at areas related to specific subjects, such as excavations at Inveresk, East Lothian, and the industrial settlement of New Lanark, the subject of a nomination for designation as a World Heritage Site. Photography in support of the RCAHMS survey of the valley of the Kale Water in January took advantage of low-light conditions to record forts, settlements and cultivation traces. Liddesdale, another subject of ground recording, and Strath Don, an area of long-term study, were also covered. Survey of farmsteads and shielings on the slopes of Ben Lawers was undertaken in advance of ground work there later in the year, and was continued elsewhere in western Perthshire, which like the coverage of western Dumfriesshire, was of an area under-represented in the aerial photographic record. Recording concentrated on the early features created as a result of mining activity, as well as on sites not noted since the early part of last century.

Cropmark survey, although more satisfactory than in recent years, was restricted in its scope. Successive sorties to western Scotland produced little in the way of sites, despite the region enjoying a drier August than much of the country. The majority of results came from northern Angus, the Lothians and Berwickshire, but Fife and southern Angus, traditional areas of arable cultivation, were hit by excessive rainfall at a critical period, and produced virtually no material. The area around Inverness was also productive, with a pitted structure being discovered close to the stone circle at Arcan Mains, and additional features being recorded in the prehistoric ceremonial landscape around Tarradale to the east of Muir of Ord. Lothian and Berwickshire produced the majority of cropmark sites during the summer. New forts and settlements were discovered throughout the area, including ones near Chirnside, Lilliesleaf, Stenton and Haddington. Details of the exploitation of the land around one of the most regularly visible sites, the fort known as The Chesters near Spott, were recorded for the first time. The coverage of pit-alignments was extended and a possible pitted avenue adjacent to a barrow was discovered to the west of Cockburnspath. Hopes for the creation of parchmarks late in August were dashed by heavy rainfall, but the thin soils on Coldingham Common produced some new settlements there.

Sponsored Fliers

Fifteen flights totalling 30 hours in the air were undertaken over Moray, Aberdeenshire and Angus, recording upstanding sites, excavations and cropmarks, with better conditions than in the previous three years. Highland saw five flights and seven hours, concentrating on the Aviemore and Rogart areas in winter and the inner Moray Firth in summer; and one flight was carried out on the line of the Roman road between Inveresk and Carstairs and one in West Fife, all with useful results.

RCAHMS (DES 2000, 107)

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