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Project and Fieldwork 2007

Spittal year 4

The Early Architecture Research Programme (EARP) continued in A&D Sutherland's quarry at Spittal. The programme of involved the modern reconstructions of Neolithic Chambered Cairns and an Iron Age Broch. This was to be the final year in the quarry as the area we were using was to be filled in. The team, led by John Barber of AOC Archaeology Group, has built and demolished a series of early structures in controlled experiments designed to increase the understanding of the architecture and engineering of these complex monuments. The 2007 season saw a rebuild of half of the long cairn followed by a repeat of the controlled collapse of the corbel structure onto the cairn floor. In this instance however a 10 cm thick clay floor was laid in the cairn to provide a more realistic substrate for the collapsing masonry. The distribution of impact energy and its effects on a variety of artifacts and materials was modelled by laying and recording a pattern of marked ceramic tiles overlaid by a variety of materials and ‘excavating’ and recording the post impact distribution of debris. The materials included industrial and hand made pottery old bone fresh bone cremated bone and charcoal. Each tile was marked with a distinct pattern and hand made pottery manufactured and low fired to imitate prehistoric pot. The corbel of each of the three bays was collapsed onto the prepared clay floor. It can be seen that each corbel collapsed as an articulated mass, rotating as it fell, rather than as a disorganised jumble of stone. The Early Building Project is part of the River of Stone Programme, a community based archaeology programme that harnesses heritage projects for community and local economic development. The River of Stone and the Early Buildings Project are conducted under the auspices of the Caithness Archaeological Trust and AOC Archaeology Group and is assisted by members of the local community and supported by local businesses, the Highland Council and Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise.

Castle Sinclair Girnigoe 2007

Second season of the community excavation supposed South Barbicans by Field Archaeology Specialists, York. Structural features and occupation debris found at both loci but that at the South Barbican thought to be re-deposited Cromwellian midden material.

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