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Date 29 June 2009 - 1 August 2009

Event ID 605058

Category Recording

Type Excavation


NJ 7233 1708 During the 15th excavation season, 29 June–1 August 2009, the team continued to excavate

the area to the E of the drive, which leads to the ruined mansion. Excavation at the southern end of the main area was completed to expose the natural as modified in the post-medieval period. The scarping of this area was reported in previous DES entries. In the course of this work a series of hollowed-out features were uncovered which may represent the remains of wooden structures. The potential structures would help explain why the southern arm of the moat came to an end (DES 2007 and 2008).

Further excavation demonstrated that the scarping continued further to the N. In the course of this work a 4.32m long wooden beam was encountered in a beam slot aligned N–S. It has four mortises and bears evidence of carpentry. A preliminary examination by Nigel Nayling identified the beam as the sole plate of a trestle bridge, which probably spanned the moat. This entrance route to the bishop’s palace aligns with the road to the medieval parish kirk of Fetternear (NJ 7332 1752). Finds immediately associated with this feature include 15th-century pottery, animal bones, leather pieces and the fragments of a lathe-turned bowl. The later scarping of the ground has obscured the precise nature of the relationship between the moat and the beam. Interpretation of this relationship may become easier with further excavation to the E but this is likely to be outwith the remit of the current project.

A trial trench was excavated S of the main area in order to investigate a hollow earthwork feature running approximately N–S towards the Marshes Burn. This hollow proved to be a continuation of the ditch reported in DES 2008. The upper fills were composed of a large amount of rubble, while the lowest level contained a wall-like structure, the function of which is unknown. This wall has one good face and is overlain by a French drain (detected in section). The profile of this ditch is narrow and flat-bottomed, which may lead us to revisit the interpretation of last year’s description of the feature. The upper fills contained finds of post-medieval date.

To the W of the main area, but N of the robbed-out wall reported last year, a series of medieval deposits were

encountered N and S of another substantial robbed-out wall, running E–W. Within them was a quantity of high

quality imported 14th-century pottery, which adds to the interpretation of this area as being associated with high status public buildings. These deposits were cut by the robber trench which removed the wall, presumably in the 19th century as it was associated with the installation of a ceramic drainpipe.

A number of N–S trending walls have been identified to the N of this wall. The exact relationship of these walls remains to be investigated. Features in this area of the site are close to the late 16th-century tower house and are largely post-medieval in date, but finds include residual medieval pottery. A number of drainage features were discovered, some of which were contemporary with the walling in this sector. Other drainage features cut older walling, indicating a series of occupation phases.

We wish to thank Mrs C Whittall, Mr J Whittall, Mrs C Fyffe, Mr R Fyffe and Mr D Fyffe for their support and for

allowing access to the site.

Archive: Aberdeenshire SMR (intended) and RCAHMS (intended)

Funder: Aberdeenshire Council, Castle Studies Group, Pantyfedwen Fund and private donors

PZ Dransart and J Trigg – Scottish Episcopal Palaces Project

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