A busy few weeks for ATP

It’s been a busy time since our last blog! We completed our 2014 excavation report and submitted this to Historic Scotland. We will make it available on our website soon. We also appeared on Digging for Britain, on BBC4, which was so exciting to see the project and the site on telly! Finally one quarter of the directorial team, Phil Richardson, has been on the peninsula with his Archaeology Scotland hat on, working alongside his colleague Cara Jones, and University of Manchester student Sarah Ashford with the Ardnamurchan Community Archaeology group. The group did some graveyard survey and walk over survey to spot more sites which will be invaluable for future work to understand the Peninsula’s past. And talking of future work, our mind is now firmly turning towards our next season of work on the Peninsula, this July and August, as University of Manchester and University of Leicester students begin signing up for places on the project, this week and next. We can’t wait to find out who will be in our 2015 team!

Finally, although not heritage related, we were all keeping a close eye on news from the Peninsula after the Lysblink Seaways ran aground off the Kilchoan jetty last month, but was fortunately safely refloated and eventually towed away. Our project has been working on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula since 2006, and we care deeply for the wonderful community and the beautiful environment. As a result, we were grateful for Jon Haylett’s excellent blog coverage of the event – and we were thrilled to hear, through Jon’s blog, that what could have been a very serious incident, passed without any adverse affects in the end. Jon poses some interesting questions that were raised by the West Ardnamurchan Community Council, in the aftermath of the grounding, on a more recent blog, and we all hope that the peninsula is not threatened by any further groundings.

ATP on DfB on TV!

After a break from our blog for a short while, we are back again! And we are very excited to announce a couple of things….

Firstly, our new and improved website is now running (hence the blog is back up). We are extraordinarily grateful to Dan and Hannah Addison for their help and expertise in making this such a fantastic site!

Secondly, ATP is going to be on TV! We will feature in Episode 3 of Digging for Britain (Series 3) on Tuesday 17th February 2015, 8pm, BBC4. Some of the footage will be material filmed by us, during the summer, and some will be from when we met the lovely Prof Alice Roberts at the National Museum of Scotland back in October 2014. We hope you enjoy it!

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2011 Viking Boat Burial Data Structure Report now available

The Data Structure Report for the 2011 excavation of the Viking Boat Burial is now available. Please click the PDF icon to view it.


Public talk at the Kilchoan Community Centre

On Thursday 9th August we will be giving a talk on ‘The Ardnamurchan Viking…and other discoveries’ at the Kilchoan Community Centre at 8pm. It is open to everyone so please feel free to come along if you’d like to learn more about last year’s exciting discoveries and our plans for the future.

Reminder: 2012 Dig Dates and Open Days

Just to remind you, we will be excavating in Swordle Bay this summer from 5th – 26th August 2012. During our dig season we would like to invite members of the public to come along and see our excavations on our site open days. These will be held 10-3.30 SUNDAY 12th and SUNDAY 19th August 2012.

We will mainly be excavating at the Iron Age promontory fort of Dun Mhurchaidh, but for health and safety reasons we ask visitors not to come to this site (it is on a very precipitous promontory and can only fit limited numbers of people!). But we will also be investigating one of the other (likely) post-medieval settlements in the bay, as well as undertaking some preliminary investigation into another potential prehistoric funerary monument that we identified during our walkover and geophysical surveys of 2010. The work at these sites will be the main focus of our open days. Signs at key points in the area will indicate where you can park and where to go.

2012 Dig Dates and Open Days

We are happy to announce that we will be excavating in Swordle Bay this summer from 5th–26th August 2012. The team will include staff from the Universities of Manchester, Leicester and Durham as well as archaeologists from CFA Archaeology Ltd, Archaeology Scotland, Headland Archaeology and Jacobs. We will also be joined by students from the University of Manchester and the University of Leicester, as well as a few volunteers from the local community and beyond. We are really looking forward to it and will be posting our plans for excavation in future blog entries so keep an eye out for those!

During our dig season we would like to invite members of the public to come along and see our excavations on our site open days. These will be held 10.00-3.30 on SUNDAY 12th and SUNDAY 19th August 2012.

Publication of a paper about ATP

A new publication about alternative, reflexive archaeological fieldwork practices has just been released by Springer. The volume is edited by some of the ATP directors and includes a paper about the project, focusing on our attempts to develop a post-processual approach to our archaeological practices. The full reference of the volume is:

Cobb, H. L., Harris, O., Jones, C., Richardson, P. (eds). 2012. Reconsidering Archaeological Fieldwork: Exploring on site relationships between theory and practice. New York: Springer.

A link to the volume can be found here.

Conservation work – some initial results

ATP’s conservation work on the artefacts from the Viking boat burial is being undertaken by Pieta Greaves of AOC Archaeology, Edinburgh. Pieta has been giving us some great updates about what she has been finding throughout this process and we thought it would be nice to share some with you!

Pieta has informed us that the axe head that we found has mineralised remains of the wooden shaft still attached to it and there is mineralised wood on the base of the ladle bowl, which is likely to be from the boat and should provide good material for wood identification. There are mineralised organics on the interior of the ladle bowl, so far unidentifiable.

Amazingly, the sword may have mineralised leather forming the remains of the sheath or scabbard. The fine, interlacing fibres of the warp and weft of preserved textiles can also be seen on the sheath/scabbard, and these suggest that the sword may have either been wrapped in textile prior to being placed in the boat, or covered with some of the clothing that the deceased Viking was buried in. A beautiful silver niello decoration, forming a chequered pattern across the sword pommel and hilt, is beginning to shine through the rust and centuries of decay. The sword hilt may be of bone/antler or ivory with a bronze core; the blade is of iron.

The full report will be included as an appendix in our 2012 Data Structure Report for the Viking boat burial which we will post in the coming months.

Forthcoming public talks on our Viking findings

ATP are pleased to announce some upcoming public talks about our Viking findings. After reporting to the University of Edinburgh Archaeology Society before Christmas, and the Current Archaeology Conference back in early March (), we will be presenting our findings at the Cheshire Archaeology Day on 14th April and the Manchester Museum Café Scientifique on 30th May (web links below).

We will also be giving a range of talks in 2013 to include the Glasgow Archaeological Society, the Eccles History Society and Manchester Medieval Society.

Further information about our 2012 public talks can be found at:

Cheshire Archaeology Day, 14th April

Café Scientifique, 30th May