Kilwinning Community Archaeology Project
Working for Irvine Bay Regeneration Company we developed a feasibility study for a Community Archaeology Project in Kilwinning to promote the appreciation of the historic importance of this Ayrshire abbey town. We were then successful in being appointed to support Kilwinning Heritage in delivering this project between 2010 and 2012. The project, jointly funded by Heritage Lottery Fund and Irvine Bay, enabled more than 120 volunteers to undertake excavations under the guidance of professional archaeologists. These volunteers were trained in archaeological techniques including digging, recording and finds work.
The excavations within Kilwinning Abbey exposed missing elements of Cloisters, showing how some of the buildings were originally built in timber. Material from the medieval buildings was also recovered including fragments of architectural stones, roofing slates, window kames and window glass. We also discovered artefacts such as locally made medieval pottery, imported wares from Germany and Spain as well as incised slates that had been used to practice writing, drawing animals and for gaming boards.
To ensure an enduring legacy, a schools programme was maintained throughout, with work experience placements involved in the project. Public meetings, publications and Facebook were used to reach out to the wider community to keep them informed of our discoveries. Many of the volunteers who came into the project have also gone on to join Kilwinning Heritage, leading to a renewal of their membership and a broadening of their activities – enabling the society to go on and develop new heritage projects.
To ensure an enduring legacy, a schools programme was maintained throughout, with work experience placements involved in the project
Lady Jane's Cottage
In conjunction with Kilwinning Heritage and with the consent of North Ayrshire Council, we developed an archaeology project for Ayrwaves 2012 – an International Guide Camp held in Eglinton Country Park. This project which was over three days on-site, introduced over 140 brownies, guides, senior section and leaders to the discipline through the investigation of Lady Jane's Cottage.
This early 19th century building was an ornamental cottage within the designed landscape of Eglinton Castle and used by Lady Jane Montgomerie as a retreat and for the education of local girls. Demolished in the 20th century the site of the cottage is now open grassland. In July 2012 our excavation trenches revealed the lower courses of walls, surrounding pathways and flagged surfaces of the cottage.
We were able to use archaeology to engage the visiting guides from around the world, enabling them to appreciate the historical importance of their camp site, Eglinton Castle. We also enabled them to contribute to improving our understanding of this important historical landscape.
This project which was over three days on-site, introduced over 140 brownies, guides, senior section and leaders to the discipline through the investigation of Lady Jane's Cottage.
We are working with Forestry Commission Scotland to deliver community access and involvement with a research excavation of the early medieval boundary at Dalmellington, East Ayrshire known as Pickan's Dyke. The underlying archaeology project is the excavation of a series of trenches across the dyke to explore the origin, character and extent of this important early monument. This will enable the correct management regime for this monument to be developed to ensure its long term safety. While these works could have been delivered solely by the company, we have explored ways of engaging with the local community.
Archaeologists on the project have presented sessions on archaeology and medieval Dalmellington to the local primary schools, which have followed this up with visits to our excavation. In addition, the timetable for the works was set to fall in Scottish Archaeology Month enabling the promotion of both an Open Day for the excavation and a short walking tour around the monument and other medieval sites in Dalmellington. Volunteering opportunities were also offered to local residents who wanted to learn practical archaeology skills.
Our work with Forestry Commission Scotland has delivered added value to their project and acted as a focus for engaging with the local community. The use of such added value initiatives using the Historic Environment as a resource also shows compliance with UK Forestry Standard for sustainable forestry.
Archaeologists on the project have presented sessions on archaeology and medieval Dalmellington to the local primary schools, which have followed this up with visits to our excavation.