South Scotland

Wigtownshire Iron Age roundhouse works get under way

Roundhouses Image copyright AOC Archaeology
Image caption The Whithorn Trust said the roundhouse would be the "most accurate" ever constructed

Preparatory work has started on a project to reconstruct an Iron Age roundhouse near the site of a major settlement in Wigtownshire.

It follows the discovery of the remains of a group of structures at Black Loch of Myrton thought to date back to the fifth century BC.

Archaeological digs have unearthed a range of "spectacular" artefacts.

Once completed the roundhouse will be used as an educational and performance facility.

Julia Muir-Watt, of the Whithorn Trust, said the "detailed information" unearthed would be used to inform the reconstruction project.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Remains of the impressive entrance were unearthed on the site

"This will be the first time that such intricate detail of Iron Age carpentry has survived, so that our reconstruction will be the most accurate so far and one of the largest buildings of the period to be constructed in Scotland," she said.

"Academics and craftsmen are deeply interested in the results of the build, as many aspects are still experimental.

"How the walls were finished and how the roof timbers meet at the apex, are all matters for conjecture and we'll continue to have experts involved throughout construction and beyond as the building matures."

Experimental wall-building workshops, involving the University of Edinburgh, have already been held.

"What we do now know for sure is that there were far greater efforts to create an impressive entrance than previously suspected and we'll be using the latest information from the site to create oak slabs to face the walls round the doorway," added Ms Muir-Watt.

"Our craftsmen also now have details of some carpentry joints and how the vertical oak timbers may have framed the door."

Image copyright Whithorn Trust
Image caption A range of artefacts have been uncovered during the dig on the site

The impressive entrance remains were among the artefacts unearthed by a team from AOC Archaeology Group this year.

Other discoveries included:

  • well-preserved walls with woven hazel rods in place
  • the original enclosure surrounding the settlement
  • cooking structures which "probably resembled modern pizza ovens"
  • stone tools used for grain processing
  • a decorated spindle whorl used for spinning thread.

"One of the great things about this project is the site that we have been excavating is extremely well-preserved," said Dr Graeme Cavers of AOC Archaeology.

"So we have got a lot of information about the materials that were used and the carpentry techniques and that kind of thing and a lot of information about the layout of the building which is the kind of stuff that just doesn't usually survive.

"With any archaeological site you are left with a lot of questions and a lot of guesswork so reconstruction is a really good way to explore how some of the problems that the archaeology presents might have been solved in real life.

"It is a great research opportunity for us as much as anything."

Volunteers to help with the reconstruction work will be sought later in the summer.

The project has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Dumfries and Galloway LEADER, the Holywood Trust, the Regional Arts Fund, The Garfield Weston Foundation, Friends of Ninian and Whithorn, and SSE Community Fund.

Related Topics

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites