The 2003 Season

During the 2003 season excavation continued in the main area in front of the mansion. The team continued extended its investigation of a section of the moat (or ditch), which is adjacent to a long wall running in an approximately north-south direction.

We confirmed our growing suspicions that the unpublished excavation carried out in the late 19th century in the part of the site that formed the lawn in front of the mansion was followed by considerable reconstruction of the long wall. West of this wall is a structure lacking entrances; it was identified as the pit of the medieval bishop’s palace in the 1998 season. However, we now consider that much of this structure was a 19th-century reconstruction. A more slight extension of the long wall, running southwards, was found to have been constructed over a drainpipe that probably was inserted after the excavation and before the reconstruction work.

The long wall from the south, showing the 19th-century drainpipe running underneath it. Photograph: SEPP 

The long wall from the south, showing the 19th-century drainpipe running underneath it. Photograph: © SEPP

The internal side of the long wall (west facing) was robbed of its facing stones for some of its length, but a transversal trench across it revealed a very fine face of smaller stones. We are investigating the possibility that this wall was remodelled to serve as a barmkin contemporary with the towerhouse. If this was the case, it might have connected with another section of well-faced walling in slightly further to the west.

Work in progress recording a section cut through the moat and exposing the eastern face of the long wall. Photograph: SEPP 

Work in progress recording a section cut through the moat and exposing the eastern face of the long wall. Photograph: © SEPP

On dismantling a section of the long wall at the north of the excavation area, adjacent to where it was cut through for the insertion of another late 19th-century drain immediately in front of the mansion, we encountered 14th-century pottery sherds and roof slates, one of which had the remains of an iron nail in the hole. The deposit containing this material was underneath the wall.

Therefore the wall was constructed inside the moat, running along its western edge. In post-medieval times the moat east of this wall was re-cut, to judge from the paucity of medieval material in the deposits that fill it in this area. This fill is rich in pottery dating from the 17th century, clay tobacco pipes and glass finds. Possibly in the 16th century the wall was cut down and it then served as the base of footings for slighter walling forming a wing with at least two rooms that would have run north-south from the towerhouse. This wing is similar in width to the chamber above the gatehouse at Tolquhon Castle.

Finds from the 2003 season included an exquisite bone mount of a king, dating from about 1300. It was excavated from a post-medieval context.

The project director wishes to thank Mrs C Whittall, Mr J Whittall, Mrs C Fyffe, Mr R Fyffe and Mr D Fyffe for their support and for allowing access to the site.

Medieval bone mount of a king. Photograph: SEPP 

Medieval bone mount of a king. Photograph: © SEPP