The 2008 Season

Excavation of one of the oak beams with the mortises; the second is still barely visible underneath the boulders in the picture. (Photograph © SEPP) 
Excavation of one of the oak beams with the mortises; the second is 
still barely visible underneath the boulders in the picture.
(Photograph © SEPP)

Further investigation of the moat during the 2008 season confirmed findings from 2007 that the moat reaches a terminus in the area south of the post-Reformation mansion now dominating the site. Good organic preservation was found in the deposits in the upper fill of the moat extending northwards as far as a terrace wall, which runs east-west, parallel to the alignment of the moat.

Offcuts of hewn oak and a fragment of lathe-turned wood were found within these deposits. This terrace wall aligns with the more southerly of two robbed out walls excavated in 2005/06 on the west of the drive which bisects the area of the site which has been excavated. 

East of the drive it extends further east than the terminus of the southern portion of the moat, and it forms a right-angle to continue northwards where it runs into a widened north-south trending wall, as described in previous annual reports. This widened wall encroaches onto a section of moat which also trends north-south; we uncovered what appears to be the moat’s southernmost terminus in 2008, but did not excavate its fill.

The more northerly of the two robbed-out walls encountered west of the drive in 2005/06 continues east of the drive. Measuring nearly 3m in width, it probably formed part of one of the public buildings of the medieval bishop’s palace. Evidently it was robbed in the 19th-century excavation of the site – a timber plank remains in situ from this earlier excavation – and it was used to site a contemporaneous drain pipe which runs along its length underneath a layer of hard core.‌

Excavation and planning at Fetternear 2008

Excavation and planning of the southern area of the excavation.

The rain filled feature at the bottom of the picture is the terminus of the moat (Photograph © SEPP).

We explored further the cobbled area between the two termini of the moat in the south-eastern sector of the excavation area. On the east of this feature is a ditch with a sharp V-shaped profile and a very narrow flat bottom. It runs southwards towards the Marshes Burn. This ditch differs in character from the moat, which is flat-bottomed where it was dug into the natural clay.

A small gully fed into the ditch on its west side. Two massive boulders lay in the soil covering the northern part of the ditch. On removing them, we encountered two in situ oak sill beams in a setting of stones. These beams are at the north end of the ditch and south of what appears to be the southernmost extent of the north-south trending part of the moat. Further excavation is required to ascertain these relationships. Each of the beams has two mortises. They were set in a non-parallel position, converging to the west.

We wish 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. We also wish to thank Mike Taitt for his assistance in moving boulders.


Aberdeenshire Council, Council for British Archaeology Challenge Funding, Past Horizons