Our Heritage Skills project primarily aims to engage and support young people through training and apprenticeship opportunities. Across the three years of the project a number of Modern Apprentices will be recruited, creating a network of young people working together for Callander. All of our apprentices are hosted by Callander’s Landscape partner Callander Youth Project

One of our apprentices, Niall, is working in Cultural and Natural Heritage, thanks to funding from Historic Environment Scotland. After a few months of lockdown, Niall has recently been able to get outdoors again and his work began with an excavation in Stirling in August 2020.

For the first project I got involved in post-lockdown, I found myself in King’s Park in Stirling on an archaeological dig led by Dr Murray Cook from Stirling Council. It focused on a site at the highest point of King’s Park, where remains of a late Romano-British Iron Age longhouse/hillfort have survived. Discovered when a new path was created around the Stirling Golf Course, this site had previously been dug twice in recent years. This third round of digging revealed new discoveries about the fort and its foundations, as well as some new interesting finds.

Above is the section of the trench I was working on. The 0.5m extensions can be seen on either side, as well as an additional extension toward the path to see if anything of note could be found there. The section nearest the path had been quite disturbed by the path building process.

Above is the section of the trench I was working on. The 0.5m extensions can be seen on either side, as well as an additional extension toward the path to see if anything of note could be found there. The section nearest the path had been quite disturbed by the path building process.

The first section of the week involved digging down to the membrane. A membrane is laid over the top of a trench prior to backfilling and marks where the previous archaeologists and volunteers managed to reach. Initially the trench was 10x2m, however, by the end of the week we’d managed to create an 10x3m trench, with an additional roughly 1x1m square dug toward the path. The wider extension revealed which direction the wall of the longhouse curved, which paints a clearer picture of where the fort actually sat, its shape, and where the walls were located.

The trench at full size with the membrane lifted. This revealed the flat paving stones of either the longhouse floor or the courtyard. The curve of the rocks visible revealed which direction the longhouse curved.

The trench at full size with the membrane lifted. This revealed the flat paving stones of either the longhouse floor or the courtyard. The curve of the rocks visible revealed which direction the longhouse curved.

West of the main trench, we excavated a secondary trench located in ditches on either side of the mound where the longhouse sits. This suggests a defensive element to the structure.

The most significant find from previous digging was the discovery of an Iron Age quern-stone. These are tools used for hand-grinding materials, such as grain. This was located in the top section of the main trench, farthest from the path. Excitingly, another fragment of the quern-stone was found in this most recent dig, this time a fragment of the inner section of the quern-stone. Clay daub was also found in this part of the trench, which is thought to be a remnant of the foundations of the fort.

On the final day of the dig prior to backfilling, planning took place. Planning involves drawing a top-down view of the trench. These plans must be accurate as they are to be spliced together, creating a plan of the whole trench.

On the final day of the dig prior to backfilling, planning took place. Planning involves drawing a top-down view of the trench. These plans must be accurate as they are to be spliced together, creating a plan of the whole trench.

Overall the dig was a great way to get back to work after lockdown. It was good to see some familiar faces from last year’s digs, including Sue from the Callander Heritage Society and several Callander’s Landscape volunteers. I’m looking forward to getting involved in more archaeological work over the coming months!

Thanks to our funders, Historic Environment Scotland, for supporting this apprenticeship project
through their Archaeology Programme,
which helps to deliver Scotland’s Archaeology Strategy.