Bennachie’s secrets

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Amateur archaeologists are being encouraged to take part in a project to reveal the secrets of Bennachie.

Archaeologists from the University of Aberdeen are calling on the local community to get involved in research to shed new light on its history.

They hope their work – funded by a grant of £20,000 from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) – will result in an exciting new heritage project for Bennachie and the surrounding landscape.

Dr Gordon Noble, Lecturer in Archaeology, said: “Whilst Bennachie is widely acknowledged as a historically and archaeologically significant location, very little work has been done in terms of detailed survey and excavation to build a picture of the archaeology that is actually present on the hill.

“The intent of this project is to get the community involved in our research into Bennachie, offering locals the chance to take part in a variety of events on the hill, including archaeological digs.

“We already work closely with voluntary conservation society, the Bailies of Bennachie, and hope to encourage other members of the local community to also get involved.

“The long-term aim is to equip community members with the knowledge and skills they require to do their own work into the history and heritage of their local area.”

The initial focus of the research will be to gain new insights into a 19th century settlement of farming families known as ‘the colony’, who resided on Bennachie from the 1830s onwards.

Dr Noble explained: “The remains of their homes, garden plots and dry stone enclosures still exist on Bennachie, and our main focus will be on researching the area which encompassed the settlement and excavating remains.

“Our aim will be to compare historical records on the settlement with what is actually on the ground in terms of architecture and artefacts

“Work we have already completed has uncovered artefacts including various ceramics and fragments of tableware and dishes.

“We hope analysis of these items and any new discoveries will reveal more about the way in which the colony lived, to build our understanding of how their lives compare to the often less than flattering accounts that appeared in local records.”

The team will host a series of public events throughout May and June offering volunteers the chance to get involved in the research.

For more information on these events, and how to get involved in the research, contact Colin Shepherd, colin@scottish-heritage.org.uk