Threave Dig Reveals New Secrets For Scottish Archaeology Month

The Community Archaeology programme ‘Can You Dig It’ and the National Trust for Scotland have partnered up again on the NTS Threave Estate to uncover more evidence of its use by people in the past. *


‘Can You Dig It’ is a Galloway Glens project that has been working hard over the last 2 years to connect people to their local built heritage. In August and September 2021, archaeological volunteers carried out some more test-pitting and metal-detecting days near to the site of Meiklewood Hill on the National Trust for Scotland’s Threave Estate, looking for further insights into the lives of the many people who have called it home.


Conservation charity, the National Trust for Scotland and the ‘Can You Dig It’ volunteers got stuck in over 3 days in the autumn, digging test pits and carrying out lithic surveys. They were joined by teams of experienced local metal detectorists, who shared their technical knowledge and information about the duties of responsible metal detecting with the rest of the volunteers. Some of the more interesting finds were a medieval lead spindle whorl – used as a weight in the hand spinning of yarn – post-medieval lead pistol shots and the remains of a decorative triple bell terret from a horse harness.


The dig was also chosen by Dig It Scotland to be one of their sites photographed by artists looking to bring a sideways view on archaeological finds. Artist and photographer Dr Chris Dooks joined the team in September to celebrate Scottish Archaeology Month and created some other-worldly images of the long-buried items.


McNabb Laurie, Galloway Glens Team Leader, said,

“We really value the partnerships that we have made through Can You Dig It, and having the National Trust for Scotland’sThreave host Dig It Scotland’s artistic project as well as the archaeological volunteers was a fantastic experience for all involved.”


Claire Williamson, Senior Archaeologist for Rathmell Archaeology, who are delivering CYDI for the Galloway Glens, said,

“We were excited when the National Trust for Scotland approached us to dig on the Threave Estate again and were grateful to see it become a focus for Dig It Scotland’s photography commission. Having the on-site collaboration between the Can You Dig It volunteers, the team from the National Trust for Scotland, the metal detectorists and artist Chris Dooks made the experience a memorable one for celebrating Scottish Archaeology Month.”


Derek Alexander, Head of Archaeological Services for National Trust for Scotland said,

“The archaeological fieldwork focussed on areas of the Threave Estate that are proposed for habitat improvement work and proved to be an excellent community partnership event. Over the years we have gradually built up a better understanding of where and how people lived and worked at Threave throughout history, and indeed prehistory, and the recent discoveries have added to that knowledge. It is really important that we continue to look for archaeological evidence outside the confines of the usual power centres, such as medieval castles and Iron Age hillforts, if we are to get a more nuanced understanding of the Scottish landscape through time.”

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