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1994 RCAHMS Aerial Survey

The practice of aerial reconnaissance in Scotland in 1994 was both easier and more productive than in the previous year, despite the weather pattern of the early months proving to be a continuation of the unfavourable pattern of 1993. A total of 108 hours were flown (up to mid-November 1994) in 41 sorties, yielding a total of more than 1,200 sites. Conditions remained unsettled with successive waves of strong winds and showers sweeping in from the west, producing some snow, but also fairly rapid thawing; the quickly changing weather meant that survey under conditions of light snow cover was restricted to areas on the eastern side of the hills, notably in Tayside and Borders. Particular attention was directed towards recording evidence of settlement and agriculture in the higher valleys, as well as revealing details of the interior features of monuments such as the fort at Hillhouse, Ettrick and Lauderdale District, Borders Region. The weather finally ameliorated in May with the arrival of cool easterly winds which, as rarely happens in Scotland, were not accompanied by haar and poor visibility; as a result of the dry and cold nature of the air, continual dust and air pollution were virtually absent. The opportunity was taken to cover areas around Inverness, carrying out recording in support of survey by the ALS team. Unfortunately the western areas of Scotland did not benefit to the same extent from the better weather, setting a pattern that persisted throughout the summer.

The more productive areas for cropmark reconnaissance were restricted to an arc extending from the mouth of the River North Esk, through Central Fife to the eastern Borders. Within this area, there were some remarkable examples of palisaded and pit-defined monuments, appearing with considerable clarity; a pitted structure at Nether Kelly in Angus District, Tayside Region, may be interpreted as a mortuary enclosure, and what might be identified as a cursiform structure was noted near the Cleaven Dyke. Of particular interest during the summer months was the further extension of the series of pit-alignments around the Lammermuirs; a succession of linear features, pit-alignments and segmented ditches was traced from north of Preston, Berwickshire District, for a distance (with some gaps) of more than seven kilometres eastwards towards Reston. For much of its length the feature consisted of two roughly parallel lines, forming a trackway or double boundary with other linear features set at right angles. There are similarities to the much less extensive series of pit-alignments to the north-west of Ayton, further south in Berwickshire, recorded mainly in 1989, the last occasion when this area was particularly productive.

RCAHMS (DES 1994, 101)