Published: 17/11/2017 08:55 - Updated: 14/11/2017 12:10

Discover ancient secrets of the Hill

Cluny digA SUMMERTIME arcaheological dig revealed some fascinating historical information about Forres.

Following June’s excavation of Cluny Hill by volunteers and students, it was discovered the land was found to be the oldest-known hill fort in Moray, dating back to the Bronze Age.

Archaeologist with Aberdeenshire Council archaeology service, Claire Herbert, is impressed with what has been discovered so far, with the possibility of more to come following further research.

She said: “The work at Cluny Hill, though small in scale, has had a huge impact, both in terms of the opportunities provided to the local community to work on a ‘real’ archaeology dig and the results of the work itself, confirming that this once forgotten site is of great importance in our understanding of Moray’s prehistoric past.”

Radiocarbon dating of samples from the dig indicate that there was a hill fort or defended settlement on Cluny Hill in approximately 800 B.C. Several trenches excavated on the hill side revealed evidence of a defensive ditch and an earth-and-stone bank or rampart. There may also have been a timber palisade or fence. Although more typically associated with the Iron Age, large hill forts first appeared in the Late Bronze Age, across the UK and Ireland.

Near the top of the hill, another trench revealed stone paving and slag, the residue of iron smelting, but dating from somewhere in the first four centuries B.C.

Taken together, the evidence suggests that Cluny Hill may have been occupied over several centuries. The enclosed area may also have included a settlement.

The excavation was run by former Forres Academy student, Leif Isaksen, now Professor of Digital Humanities in the department of Classics and Ancient History, University of Exeter. Mr Isaksen returned to discuss the project at the Tolbooth on Tuesday, November 7.

Since the dig, a number of volunteers have attended the Falconer Museum to help process soil samples and small finds, and to digitise the drawings and site records.

The entire team hope to return next year to further excavate the area with evidence of metal smelting, the ditch, and other areas that may have seen domestic activity.

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