Rhynie, Aberdeenshire

Rhynie, Aberdeenshire
The Craw Stane with Tap o'Noth hillfort in the background (Photo courtesy of Cathy MacIver).

Friday, 24 June 2016

2016 Season Dates!

Wow, is it summer 2016 already? 

The REAP team are excited to be returning for another season of work at the Craw Stane (permissions pending).  We should be beginning work on site 15th of August for 2-3 weeks.  We've got lots of work to do and lots of exciting activities on site (and off...) in the planning. 

Some of you may have seen Rhynie featured on BBC's Digging for Britain Series 4 (North episode) http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b074hn34.  Alas, it is not available for viewing on iPlayer - but if you saw it make sure you tease Gordon!

Last year DipIn video also stopped by (alas Gordon was busy with other filming so I had to step up... although I like the classic Scottish archaeologist combination of sun hat and waterproof I'm sporting!). Rhynie is featured in the History & Heritage video http://www.dipinvideo.co.uk/videos/picts - watch the whole thing but Rhynie begins around 7 minutes in.

Looking forward to standing in the shadow of the Craw Stane soon.
Dr M.

Friday, 8 April 2016

The axe-pin

We have had the unique axe-pin conserved and the pin looks even more amazing than before - and best of all the suspicions about an animal at the butt-end of it (so many would not believe what we saw!) is completely confirmed.

The pin was found in the upper levels of burnt material around the palisade and post settings (outermost enclosure) in 2012.  It is a very rare example of a well-preserved iron pin. 

The iron axe-pin, post conservation. Photo copyright to O. Sveinbjarnarson and REAP.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Online Lecture Available!

For those of you with an interest...

You can see the paper delivered by Dr Gordon Noble and Dr Meggen Gondek at the Scotland in Early Medieval Europe Conference (Feb 2012) on the Society of Antiquaries online Resources webpage (click above and it should bring you there).

Obviously this isn't our most up-to-date paper, but a chance to hear some of the results of the 2011 and 2012 work as well as the context of our work here.

Happy Viewing!

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

The words of Rhynie Man

In case you don't follow it already...

Check out the musings of Rhynie Man (and the pictures!) for help in understanding what life is like for an axe-bearing, mullet-wearing Pictish guy: https://therhynieman.wordpress.com/

Rhynie Man was here? photo courtesy of Rhynie Man

I always make the same bad joke about Rhynie Man - I describe him as 'life sized - if you believe I'm life-sized' and here's the evidence to prove it!

Planks for the Memories 2015!

In the next few days-weeks we will be posting a recap of our site, features and finds - but for now a quick summary and a gratuitous pun...

Ghost planks and split timbers in the palisade trench.

It was a fantastic year with some vexing features (curse you annexe ditch!) and great discoveries like our possible stone-hole near the entrance to the outer ditch.  Our key thoughts as we turn to writing up this year's results:

The palisade architecture does appear to be complex with massive planks or split timbers set at the inner edge of the foundation cut.  The regularity of the palisade post-holes seems pretty convincingly to point to these working together with the supports in the palisade trench and a type of box-rampart superstructure is likely.  We have some evidence of additional beams and supports linking palisade postholes, as well, particularly near the entrance to the enclosure.

Our ditches seem largely to have been infilled with windblown sand deposits with the occasional dump of more organic or turfy material.  We have good potential for dating some of the lower fills from our investigations into both the inner and outer ditches this year.

The annexe ditch, although substantial in APs and in our drone shots, turned out to be a rather shallow affair.  We are still working on the idea of it as a foundation trench for a possible turf wall (with all the turf long gone).  The annexe was in use before the palisade was built and before the outer ditch was dug.  Our working theory is that this was a livestock enclosure, but mulling continues on that one.

Our finds! More evidence for imported materials, high-level metalworking and ornate dress-sense at the site.

So, a very successful year. Many thanks to the great support of both of our universities, Historic Scotland, Aberdeenshire Council archaeologists, our funders, the volunteers, students, Rhynie Woman and the whole village of Rhynie.  More updates to come!

Friday, 28 August 2015

An Fe Obj of Interest

Anyone that's worked on an archaeological site knows the shorthand phrase 'Fe Obj' - which simply means 'Iron Object.'  We save this for all manner of indeterminate rusty objects that most of the time turn out to be indeterminate recent scraps of iron.  However, at Rhynie we have soil conditions that seem amazingly to preserve iron objects (a case in point being our fantastic iron axe-pin from 2012).

Yesterday Irvine (who found our lovely and possibly exotic blue spiral bead) was dutifully working in his ditch sondage when he shouted 'Meggen! Metal!' across the site.  And behold - an Fe Obj! Something odd about one end prompted Daniel and I to look giddy and mutter 'pin-like' a lot.  It isn't another axe-pin, but looks rather like a form called a 'disc-headed pin' - a fantastic example of a 5th-6th century silver disc-headed pin can be found at the British Museum (http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/pe_mla/d/disc-headed_pin.aspx).  There's no way to tell if ours was decorated at all at the moment and it is broken at the tip, too.  Another great find to add to our collection of wonderful and sometimes unique finds collection from the site.

Remember, tomorrow the 29th is our site Open Day and the Pictish pop-up cafe will be in full operation. We will be offering regular tours and there will be a mini-display of some of our finds.  We have a 'sieve the spoil heap' challenge for those wanting to get their hands dirty and for the little ones a special sand box (crafted by Fred) and a chance for them to dig and sieve to find themselves a little treasure to take away. Rhynie is on the A97 and the field is just south of the village.  The brave might drive into the field, but there is also a gate to walk into the field at the southern corner.  You can park in the village by the square and walk up on the big grassy verge. You can also park in the cemetery car park (where there are some Pictish stones on display) and walk up by the field wall.

Diggers enjoying our cafe tent.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Amphorae sherds galore and a special deposit

A busy few days interspersed with lots of heavy rain showers for us here at Rhynie.  All the work is going well.  Although, our annexe ditch that we thought was 'sorted' turns out to have a few tricks up its sleeve yet.  An annoying thing for a ditch that is rather insubstantial and that we are still not sure why it exists.

However, lots of Late Roman Amphorae sherds are popping up particularly in the outer ditch and a mystery fabric has also appeared on site.  We have some inklings of what it might be, but nothing we are willing to commit in writing until approved by our findsmaster Ewan.

Irvine and Alex working on the outer ditch.

The main outer ditch section we are doing this year has been completed and remains only to be drawn and contexts described.  It was a mammoth effort! We kept a close eye on our team of two (Ani and Nicola) to make sure they were safe and also to keep their spirits up after saying 'no, that isn't the bottom' too many times.

Team Outer Ditch have a victory trowel before their post-ex photo.

Work on the palisade continues.  We can definitely see the ghost of planks (although sometimes we debate where it is!), but are still working to clarify how the structure was built.  A long section of the palisade is being excavated in plan and this should help us with that question.

Palisade Park with John, Vanessa, Oskar and (by popular demand) Fred!

One of our most exciting discoveries today has been a deposit of what looks to be a cattle jaw in the base of a large pit that either represents the end of the outer ditch or is dug into the outer ditch terminal.  This pit was packed with large stones - very unusual for our site even though we have lots of huge postholes.  We have a suspicion that the packing might have supported a stone rather than a wooden post, but this needs to be argued out.  Underneath all the packing material and at the very base was the bone.  As Cathy would say - seems to be a bit 'weirdo' (we try to avoid the word ritual sometimes to avoid being a stereotype).  Grace did a great job in her pit/ditch and was rewarded with crumbling teeth! Ah, archaeology.

The bone deposit in the outer ditch terminal/pit.

Don't forget our Open Day on the 29th. Fingers crossed for less hail - but the rainbows today on site were spectacular.