|24 April 2005
Historic Scotland's new scheduling campaign
Archaeologists are turning their attention to one of Scotland's most historically overlooked areas by scheduling scores of ancient and modern sites dating from 4000 BCE to the cold war era. Hill forts, castles, sheilings, standing stones, hut circles, churches, lime kilns and pillboxes were the focus of the first major scheduling drive in the north of Scotland by heritage experts from Historic Scotland.
The teams of historians and ancient monument inspectors are keen to shed light on the historical richness of Aberdeenshire, an area previously overlooked during efforts to protect important sites. Dr Gordon Barclay, principal inspector of ancient monuments with Historic Scotland, said the new scheduling campaign was a productive way of mapping the nation's past. He said: "This is the first time we have tried out this area-based approach to scheduling. We take a group of parishes and look at everything within it of historical interest. "Previously, it has been up to the efforts of individual inspectors and was not very co-ordinated, with areas getting more scheduling than others." He added: "This is a more consistent approach looking at one area after another. We have around 200 candidate sites in the area and about one half or two-thirds of these will eventually be scheduled."
Inspectors have been in Strathdon and Alford carrying out the scheduling assessments on a large number of archaeological sites. If the sites visited are judged to be of national importance, they will then be scheduled as ancient monuments and will be protected under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The teams will schedule a number of important sites including the prehistoric site on Deskrey Hill, east of Strathdon, which has hut circles and contains evidence of some of the earliest farming in Scotland.
Generations of hunters, herdsmen, farmers and foresters helped shape the landscape in the north-east. Traces of their houses, farms, religious sites or burial monuments litter the landscape. The first farmers in the area also introduced pottery and polished stone axes.
An Aberdeenshire Council spokesman said there were a great number of historical sites that they were keen to protect. "We welcome this week's visit by Historic Scotland to view nearly 200 sites as part of the organisation's scheduling assessments," he said. "Our archaeology team is guiding the visitors around sites ranging from the neolithic age, right up to the last world war."
Dr Barclay said the project had already been a resounding success and would be taken to other parts of the country. "We will be up in the area around Inverness next," he said, "We will look at everything which is legally able to be scheduled. Six teams of two inspectors look at the sites to get an idea of what is left there."
Source: The Herald (21 April 2005)
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