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20 Aug 2018

Public dig uncovers evidence of 17th-century attack at Castle Fraser

Hundreds of people helped uncover Aberdeenshire’s history at our recent series of archaeology events.
The public helped discover evidence of a 17th-century attack at Castle Fraser during digs in Aberdeenshire.

Over 400 members of the public took part in archaeological excavations at the National Trust for Scotland’s Crathes Castle and Castle Fraser over the last two weekends.

At both locations the work was supervised by the conservation charity’s archaeologists and a team of dedicated archaeological volunteers. The ‘come and have a go’ approach proved very popular with families and attracted both first-timers and seasoned diggers.

Dr Daniel Rhodes, Trust archaeologist said: ‘Last year at Castle Fraser we found a 16th-century silver coin but this year the evidence appears to focus more on the 17th century. Two copper alloy coins were found, one each at Crathes and Castle Fraser, and both appear to be coins called turners (2 pence) of Charles I from 1632–39.’

17th-century coin uncovered during archaeology events at Castle Fraser and Crathes Castle
17th-century coin uncovered during archaeology events at Castle Fraser and Crathes Castle

A number of pieces of chipped flint suggest prehistoric activity in the area, although a squared-off piece was clearly a gun flint, from a flintlock musket.

Dr Rhodes continued: ‘The mid-17th century was a volatile time in the north-east. Following a peaceful surrender, the Marquis of Montrose camped his royalist army at Crathes in 1645. And sometime between 1653 and 1655 Castle Fraser was attacked by Oliver Cromwell’s General Monk as he suppressed royalist supporters. The concentration of broken window glass around Castle Fraser may be a result of this destruction.’

In addition to the coins and glass, artefacts recovered during the excavation included 19th-century pottery and quantities of 18th-century wine bottles, roof slates and nails.

“It’s great to see so many people come out and take an active part in their heritage. In addition to the protection and promotion of our properties, the Trust is keen to provide engaging experiences and the last two weekends have proved a major success in involving the public in what we do, for the love of Scotland.”
Dr Daniel Rhodes, Trust archaeologist (right)