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    Garnock Connections

    Connecting people and places within the Landscape

A Dirty Weekend at Glengarnock Castle

Fresh out of lockdown and ready to dig, here’s what happened when DigVentures and Garnock Connections took a group of people to investigate a medieval castle in North Ayrshire…

Glengarnock Castle sits, perched on the edge of a ravine near Glasgow. Now, a ruinous ancient landmark, the castle is tied to a 120-year feud between two of North Ayrshire’s most important medieval families- the Cunninghames and the Montgomeries. Their feud brought turmoil to the region, and only ended in 1586 when the 4th Earl of Eglinton was murdered.

Whilst much of the castle’s origins are unknown, parts date to the mid-15th century during the feud. We also know, it was visited by Mary Queen of Scots in 1536 and that a storm destroyed a large chunk in 1863. Yet, there’s lots of evidence to suggest the castle could be far older and much more extensive, than what it initially appears.

So, it was time for our dirty weekenders to investigate how old and truly extensive Glengarnock Castle’s ruins really are…

And in true Scottish spirit, they got stuck right in!

We had 3 test pits, which our weekenders began digging out with shovels and pickaxes.

Claire and David started trowelling and very quickly began to unveil evidence of a possible wall.

Meanwhile, Harriet began leading a how to make short films about heritage workshop. Here, Ruth tries out her video capturing skills.

By lunchtime, 2 of our test pits were starting to show evidence of further buildings.

After a quick spot of lunch, our dirty weekenders were right back at it!

Over at the castle, we gathered round as Claire and Louise shared their landscape and building surveying expertise.

The group sketched sections of the castle, observing its exposed surfaces, materials and building techniques to help place the ruins within a historical context.  

Afterwards, Kim shared her geophysics expertise, demoing how-to search for subsurface archaeological features.

Meanwhile, Dan, Evo and Anne began uncovering a larger wall structure having only found modern glass and a bottle cap in the morning!

Our find trays started to fill up, with some iron nails, a piece of leather and a few shreds of pottery.

Which only motivated our weekenders to find more!

So, the trowelling continued with Manda leading the way…

And soon enough, Colin found a musket ball!

All in all, our dirty weekenders did an incredible job!

They learnt a whole range of new archaeological skills

And unveiled possible evidence of additional buildings beyond the castle’s ruins.

But most importantly, they all had a grand weekend out!

(This event was held in partnership with DigVentures and supported by Rathmell Archaeology). 

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