The 2007 Season

Excavation of the southern area of the site. The cross section through the 

moat is at the bottom of the picture (Photograph © SEPP).

During the thirteenth season of excavation at Fetternear the team obtained further evidence for the extensive levelling operation undertaken during the Post-Reformation occupation of the site. Levelling has been noted throughout the area excavated to the south of the mansion and on both sides of the current drive.

We investigated a section of moat at the southern limit of the excavation area east of the drive, obtaining a complete cross-section. The construction of the moat here is different compared to that north of the mansion. (Previous work on the moat was reported in the reports on the 2000 Season, the 2004 Season and the 2005/06 Season.) At the south of the site the moat is flat-bottomed in profile in contrast to the V-shaped section recorded to the north of where the Victorian extension of the mansion now stands, as drawn in an unpublished 19th-century document in the National Library of Scotland. This difference is probably explained by the different nature of the geology, which is clay to the south of the site rather than bedrock at the north.

During the 2007 season we also demonstrated that the southern part of the moat, which was cut by what is now the drive leading to the front door of the mansion, narrows and comes to an end. At this terminus a series of truncated stakes was encountered, together with one piece of worked wood. The fill differs from that observed elsewhere on the site, because it consists of soil layers with very few finds rather than rubble from building destruction. Based on a preliminary study by W.J. Lindsay, the ceramics from the fill appear to be 14th century in date and include a sherd of imported Raeren ware. A pit had been cut into the fill of the moat; it contained pieces of sawn tree trunk.

At some point in time (probably in the post medieval period), the natural was scarped to the north of the moat, with the result that the interior ground level became lower than the exterior. We have found evidence of this scarping across a wide area of the site. In one area it truncated a dense concentration of stake holes, which underlay a pebbled surface. Some of these stake holes intercut each other, suggesting a series of phases, but at this stage it is only possible to say that these stake holes constitute the earliest feature in this area. Cut into the scarped natural is a terrace wall which seems to replace an earlier, wider, wall, both of which have been heavily robbed and possibly rebuilt, as noticed elsewhere on the site.

At the eastern limit of the excavation there is evidence for the stepping of the natural which is directly overlain by a cobbled surface which, in turn, is cut by a more recent ditch with a steep profile. There were remains of walling which were identified as recent garden features.


Aberdeenshire Council, Council for British Archaeology Challenge Funding, Fetternear Trust, University of Liverpool