ORCA Archaeology is pleased to announce that they have been commissioned by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) to commence archaeology excavation at the site of the proposed new sub-station at Finstown.
Orkney is recognised to be at the forefront of the rapidly expanding renewable sector in the UK. The proposed Finstown Substation will form part of the multi-million pound Orkney Transmission Connection and Infrastructure project which aims to reinforce the electricity transmission connection between the renewable energy providers on the islands and the mainland of Scotland.
The planned archaeology work at the proposed substation site will involve a programme of excavation, which will investigate anomalies identified through earlier surveys conducted by ORCA Archaeology.
Magnetometer (geophysical) surveys revealed several areas of archaeological interest (Figure 1 below), which were subsequently investigated by trial trenching. Interestingly the large anomaly shown at 8 in Figure 2 has been interpreted as a lightning strike rather than archaeology, but looks pretty spectacular in any event!
The sub-station site sits in an area of low glacial mounds laid to pasture, at the foot of Hill of Heddle. An old road or track formerly ran through it along the present field boundary angling NE from Stymilders, which itself was the site of a 19th century school. The field boundary is shown in Figure 2 below.
The trial trenching found extensive deposits of ‘midden’ - material containing debris from human occupation - and several stone structures, probably dating from the Bronze Age (about 2000BC to 800BC in Orkney) near Stymilders and the Neolithic (4000BC to c. 2000BC) in the eastern field, (feature 7 in Figure 2 above).
The current excavation follows on from this previous work and targets the known areas of archaeological potential. The ORCA Archaeology team will open a series of large trenches as shown in Figure 3 below, take samples of the midden material, investigate and record the structures present.
Pete Higgins, Senior Project Manager, ORCA Archaeology commented, “This is a rare opportunity to excavate a large area of good archaeological potential and we anticipate it will add significantly to our understanding of how people interacted with the landscape near the World Heritage Area.”
SSEN’s Environmental Project Manager, Simon Hall adds, “Given Orkney’s vast, rich and highly significant archaeology, we are fully committed to work with all relevant bodies to avoid or mitigate impacts and protect Orkney’s archaeological heritage.In the event of any archaeological discoveries of interest we are committed to ensure these are fully documented, preserved if possible, with our findings shared with interested parties.”
For further information on the proposals see the SSEN website at............
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The ORCA team sometimes have to work in the harshest of conditions and in some of the most isolated areas of Britain. This means that the team has to rely on its own resources to get the job done, but on other occasions the sun shines and the rain and wind stays away.
Such were the conditions on the first few days of the geophysics survey at Kergord on Shetland, with clear blue skies and a few clouds that didn't threaten rain or hail or snow, and the geophysics survey was completed without resort to wet weather gear.
The project, commissioned by Balfour Beatty Construction Services UK, was to undertake a scheme of archaeological fieldwork at Upper Kergord, Shetland, in advance of the development of a proposed electricity converter station.
The investigation focused on four excavation areas targeted over features identified through walkover survey, desk based assessment and during watching briefs of geotechnical works.
The excavation encountered features that represent elements of the Post Medieval/crofting period landscape, including a shieling-type shelter, as well as structural remains which potentially provide evidence for Neolithic or Bronze Age land management.
If you are considering commissioning an archaeological survey, however large or small, in connection with a planning application or development then contact Pete Higgins, ORCA Senior Project Manager, on 01856 569345 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Work carries on as part of the A9 dualling as Archaeologists discover a possible Iron Age structure, pottery and a stone tool near the road. The finds have been made on the Crubenmore to Kincraig stretch of the route to be dualled.
The dualling of the A9 trunk road from Perth to Inverness is one of the largest infrastructure projects in Scotland. Over 80 miles of road will be improved over the next 8 years to improve the quality and reliability of journeys along the road. In common with all major infrastructure projects, Transport Scotland has appointed archaeologists in order to check for previously hidden ancient structures and other significant archaeology.
Commercial archaeologists, Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology (ORCA), have been working alongside design consultants CH2M Hill / Fairhurst Joint Venture, and ground investigation contractors, and have opened trial trenches to investigate several interesting anomalies identified in a geophysical survey.
The interest of the archaeologists was heightened further as the ground investigation works are located close to a prehistoric souterrain called Raitt’s Cave near Kingussie. This underground structure is a scheduled monument and is very large compared to most similar structures in Northern Scotland, and yet soutterains in general remain enigmatic as their use is still debated by archaeologists across the UK. They may have been used for storage, defence or some unidentified ritual, but commonly they are associated with settlement in the Bronze and Iron Ages.
Following discussions between Transport Scotland and the ORCA team on site, the preliminary work continued as the archaeologists investigated the anomalies. Traces of a previously unknown structure were quickly identified together with a scattering of pottery sherds and a possible stone Ard point – a stone worked into a point for use as part of a plough. The pottery was identified by Martin Carruthers (Iron Age specialist at the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute) as a possible collection of early Iron Age sherds. These finds led the archaeologists to believe that the structure may be associated with the souterrain.
Following advice from ORCA, the team quickly formulated a plan to incorporate the archaeological investigation into the schedule, meaning that the important A9 infrastructure development work could continue while the significant archaeology was recorded in more detail.
Keith Brown Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work said: “Our work to dual the A9 will bring undoubted improvements for road users including improved journey times and significantly improving road safety. At the same time, the ongoing design work has opened a window into Scotland’s past. We have already been able to shed more light on the Battle of Killiecrankie and now these latest finds on another stretch of the route offer evidence for experts on how our prehistoric descendants lived in the Iron Age.”
Peter Higgins, Senior Project Manager ORCA, commented, “We are tremendously excited by these finds in this archaeologically significant location. We are also pleased that we can work with Transport Scotland to make sure that these finds are recorded correctly without impeding the roadworks so vital to this Scotland’s economic development.”
Transport Scotland: The A9 dualling project is a £3 billion infrastructure project designed to improve the links between Perth and Inverness.
The archaeological work on the hospital site was successful in identifying where the archaeology was located and informing the strategy to avoid it.
An archaeological watching brief was undertaken on behalf of NHS Orkney, during the topsoil strip by machine, across the site of the new hospital and healthcare facilities in Kirkwall from the 24/04/2017 - 1/05/2017.
During the watching brief a number of linear features, interpreted as post-medieval land drains and boundary ditches were identified. Also identified was the edge of a former quarry pit that was shown on the First Edition 6-inch Ordnance Survey map.
The watching brief confirmed that the surviving significant (prehistoric) archaeology was focused in the area investigated during the evaluation in Trenches 1 and 9
This area had been avoided by the design for the current scheme of works. No features or material of archaeological significance were identified during the programme of archaeological works.
This blog has been created by Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology in beautiful Orkney. We aim to add features and news about our work on the islands and further afield on a regular basis.