Looking back at #TheRealOutlander 2016

Post date: Jul 4, 2016 3:32:56 PM

Wow! It’s been over 2 weeks since we finished the Jacobites, Clearance and Scots project 2016, and it feels like yesterday. First of all, big thanks to everyone who participated and especially from me - Thanks to Ian, Aris and Dan who, as always, were so much fun to work with. This year I really enjoyed getting back out on the Atholl Estates and surveying the settlement of Craig. (Thank you Atholl Estates)! One of the things I love about working at HARP is the variety of people who come out to attend our fieldschools and workshops. We had a good mix of university students, those with an interest in archaeology, or those who are taking distance archaeology courses as part of a second degree. Everyone brings their unique perspective and background to the survey and sees things differently; this in turn makes me see things differently. One of our returning students, Victoria, has a background in plant chemistry and is very interested in the botanical aspects of surveying an archaeological site. It was so interesting to hear her thoughts on the types of plants in the area and what may have been done to the land in the past to promote particular plant growth today. Not only that but she was able to identify plants which were introduced to a settlement site, a non-native herb; this gets my imagination going on the types of small kitchen gardens these 18th century homes may have had in these rather remote highlands.

Another returning student, Kieran, has an interest in battlefield archaeology and was able to give us a talk on the battle of Killiecrankie when we visited the site. He had clearly done some excellent research and was able to really tell all of us far more detail and information than we may have otherwise had at hand. The site of the Battle of Killiecrankie is rather spread out in a really beautiful setting with the Garry River running through the gorge, which makes for a nice walk as well. The most discussed topic of that visit was whether we thought that MacBane, an English soldier fleeing the charging Highlanders, could have actually made the 5.5m jump he claims to have across the river to escape. We remain undecided though all thought if they had a hoard of half-naked Highlanders chasing them with swords, that the chances of making it improved. Overall, it was a great field season despite the midges and the drizzly weather which plagued the better part of the two weeks. We managed to survey a fairly large area of the Tay Forest lands to the south of Tummel Bridge and we finished with a stretch on the Atholl Estates east of Dalnacardoch. We had our fill of drains, ditches, quarries and culverts and I’m pretty sure Team 3 who were out with me at Craig on the last day has had enough of field clearance cairns for a bit. But we were really able to get an idea of what was happening in this Clune’s Lodge area, which is super exciting and interesting for us. This area has it all!

It was a busy last week with Ian’s public lecture at Pitlochry Town Hall on Thursday to a record turn-out; and we had a great day of visits on the last Wednesday, when we went to Ruthven Barracks, Newtonmore Highland Folk Museum and finally Killiecrankie Pass.

Ruthven is a wonderful site; very picturesque and rugged with the ruins of the Barracks from the end of the ’45. Also interesting, from an 18th century traveller’s perspective, was the number of roads recorded in that area from the medieval period when the Comyn family was there and wanted to ensure travel to and from Ruthven (particularly to maintain the supply of a favourite beer from Blair Atholl). The Folk Museum was fantastic, with a fully re-created, experimental 18th century township. It was really well done and I was particularly interested in how smoky the house interiors were. As a bioarchaeologist, I have to wonder how this would have affected their health and well-being, especially given the damp climate in which they live. Well, this is turning into a much longer post than I had planned on, but there was so much going on this season that I wanted to touch upon. This project continues to supply more interesting information and it feels quite exciting to add to the overall understanding of the area with each feature surveyed. I can’t wait to get back next year! For now, Ian, Dan and I are sweating away in Cyprus, working on the University of Manchester’s excavations at Kissonerga-Skalia (check it out here). It certainly makes for a change from the rainy, chilly Highland days we had a week ago. Check out HARP’s new Instagram account @harparchaeology and we’ll try and post up some pictures there as we go.

Next up for HARP are our excavations at Kildavie on the Isle of Mull! Check it out on our page here. Also, if you’re interested with more to do with HARP, and particularly supporting some of our projects, check out the ‘Support Us’ page on this website.

I think it may be time for a Keo!