Scotland’s Rural Past (SRP) was a five-year, nationwide project, which supported local communities across Scotland to investigate deserted rural settlements dating from the medieval and post-medieval periods. The project, which was launched in October 2006, and hosted by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS), with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Trust for Scotland, Historic Scotland, and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. Through the work of the Historic Rural Settlement Trust these organisations have recognised the need to improve our understanding of these rural sites and encourage their conservation by involving local people.
Members of Mull Museum were involved in the recording, training and workshops all over the island.
Mull Museum have supported a number of archaeological projects on the island, including Baliscate Chapel, on the southern edge of Tobermory, excavated by Channel 4 Time Team programme in 2010 where evidence of an early Christian settlement was found.
The Museum secured the funding for the further excavations at the Baliscate Chapel site from Heritage Lottery, Argyll and the Islands LEADER and the Hunter Trust.
The Archaeological Project was carried out by Clare Ellis of Argyll Archaeology and her team on the 18th August 2012 for 28 days, they were assisted by "volunteer archaeologists " from the local community.
Members of the committee co-ordinated the dig and supervised the school tours, the volunteers, the evening talk and open day for visitors as well as actually digging on site.
A display of the finds are on show in the museum from both excavations.
The project runs with permission from the North West Mull Community Woodland Company <http://nwmullwoodland.co.uk/>.
Members of the Museum committee have volunteered on this excavation and supply the marquee for the site each year.
In 2004 Kevin Luscombe and Bill and Suzanne Patterson first visited Kildavie (Cill Da Bhidhe) , on the north coast of the Isle of Mull, and eventually created Comhlan Croag an archaeology group for the area in 2008. They attended and then ran several SRP (Scottish Rural Past) courses at Kildavie and in 2009 founded the Mull Archaeology Interest Group which resulted in Kildavie being accepted by Archaeology Scotland as one of 40 Adopt-A-Monuments.
An archaeological excavation by way of a training field school and community outreach by Ian Hill of Heritage and Archaeological Research Practice (HARP) , is now being undertaken each year at Kildavie along with an assessment of the surrounding landscape. The excavation has investigated a number of the buildings within the township, along with a series of test pits excavated to investigate the surrounding enclosures and open spaces in the settlement.
Lephin Archaeological Dig 2018 Glengorm, Isle of Mull
Mull museum raised funds from the Heritage Lottery, Mull and Iona Community Trust and Mull Museum funds to carry out and support the excavation at Lephin. Members of the committee co-ordinated the dig and supervised the school tours, the volunteers, the evening talk and open day for visitors as well as actually digging on site.
Here is a summary of what happened at the dig.
At the Lephin Archaeological dig we had a massive stone lined grave cut. We had dotty pot, the same design as we found at the Baliscate excavation in 2012 and which dated to the 13th century AD, and so it is looking likely that Lephin may also date to this period. We have a tapered entrance with threshold stones, internal postholes which were part of a timber frame that would have supported the roof and massive stone walls of both the structure and the enclosure wall of the burial ground.
We had 25 volunteers working on site over the week, whose ages ranged from 19 - 75 years some did the whole 7 days others 2 and 3 days each. They were involved in all different aspects of archaeology including, trowelling, measuring, recording, identifying contexts, drawing and backfilled.2 younger volunteers who are studying to be archaeologists joined the excavation and will use the skills they learned during the dig towards the field work part of the course. The volunteers worked through gales, rain and the odd bit of sunshine and achieved so much in a week.
The ranger Kerry Froud who works for the Glengorm Wildlife project and is employed by the Glengorm estate,the landowner for the Lephin site, works through the summer months has been offered more work in the winter because of the excavation and is adding the Lephin burial ground as one of her visitor walks and is planning to do simulated archaeological digs in the visitor centre for local children and holiday makers children visiting the island. We had 3 school visits with approx 60 pupils and 7 teachers and assistants, 5 schools were given a simulated pack prepared by Mull Museum which they will do in the classroom. Tobermory high school S1 pupils are creating a leaflet for the site as a project.
Our Open day on Saturday 22nd September was well attended by over 40 people from the local community and visitors to the island and supervised by members of the Museum committee. The evening talk was also well attended again by members of the local community and visitors to the island where they watched a slideshow and listened to a talk about Lephin presented by Dr Clare Ellis.
Lephin Archaeological excavation was a very successful and exciting project. We began the excavation trying to prove the connection between the Baliscate Chapel excavation and confirm the name of burial ground on the maps, the stone lined grave proved that, the early dated pottery similar to Baliscate proves the site was in existence at the same period. Also to introduce a new group of school children to archaeology. Also to involve and train as many volunteers as possible with a view to using them for future projects on the island. We achieved more what we set out to do as very few medieval buildings have survived in Scotland and very few have been excavated.
Lephin Archaeological Dig 2019
We are busy raising funds for a 2 week dig at Lephin hopefully in September again continuing on from the exciting finds of the 2018 excavation. Watch this space if you would like to be involved, we will be looking for 12 volunteers each day.