East Neuk site offers hands-on archaeology experience as part of Scotland Digs 2023
and live on Freeview channel 276
The national campaign coordinated by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland’s Dig It! project celebrates the country’s world-class archaeology and highlights budget-friendly activities for the public.
During the campaign many dig sites will welcome members of the public with free tours, open days and volunteering opportunities for all to enjoy.
And here in Fife, visitors are being invited to tour a multi-period site and get hands-on with archaeology as part of a project to uncover the history of the East Neuk.
Organised by four archaeologists from the University of St Andrews, a team of students and volunteers have been exploring the Pittarthie Farm landscape near West Lingo as part of the Petardy Historic Landscape Project since 2020.
Field walking, metal detecting and excavation by various groups and individuals over the years has already revealed evidence from the Neolithic through to the Modern period, with key finds including a fragmented sword pommel dated to around AD 1200 – 1340.
The team will host open days on Wednesdays, June 28, July 5 and July 12, which will include a tour of the ruins of Pittarthie Castle, near Dunino, and an opportunity to take part in excavating the castle gardens and help conduct a geophysical survey.
The work has been supported by the University of St Andrews Community Fund, which awarded over £1000 for the project.
The Petardy Historic Landscape Project is a community archaeology project exploring the history of occupational and environmental change at the present site of Pittarthie Farm.
The first mention of Petardy appears in AD 1375 in a document from King Robert II of Scotland. A fragmented sword pommel was found through metal detecting near the tower house and dated to circa. 1200 – 1340 with a crest interpreted as possibly the arms of Poitou, or Edmund, Earl of Cornwall. Its presence and large amounts of ceramic may indicate significant high-status development in the 13th to the 14th century.
By the late 16th and 17th century, a family of Bruces – distantly related to the famous architect William Bruce – had built the picturesque tower house and surrounded it with terraced gardens and tree lined policies. During the 19th century, the farm would be swept up in the agricultural revolution, which shapes much of the farm as it appears on the surface today. Much later, a set of anti-aircraft guns were installed during World War II with the site manned by Polish and American service members.
Erik Crnkovich, principal investigator of the Petardy Historic Landscape Project, said: “We’re looking forward to starting work directly in the shadow of the famous castle, and we’re glad to hear that our public dig days could contributed to the Scotland Digs 2023 campaign for free days out.
"This year we’ll be putting our geophysics data to the test, using our results to place a few trenches near the castle’s unexplored terraced gardens. A new area of the farm, it is sure to be filled with discovery.”
The East Neuk event is just one of a number of open days and events taking place across Scotland as part of the campaign.
Dr Jeff Sanders, FSAScot, Project Manager at the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland’s Dig It! project, said: “Archaeology is all about discovering Scotland’s stories which is one of the reasons why we’re excited about this summer of fieldwork events. Scotland Digs 2023: Free Days Out gives the public an opportunity to get involved in unearthing these stories while offering budget-friendly ways to be physically active, connect with others, get outdoors and learn new skills at a time when value for money is on a lot of people’s minds.”
For more information, follow #ScotlandDigs2023 or visit DigItScotland.com
Booking is essential for the Pittarthie open days. Please email [email protected] to book a space.