The Festival of British Archaeology takes place across the UK throughout the summer. North of the border, it has a separate incarnation in the shape of Scottish Archaeology Month, which runs from August through September. Scotland is, after all, home to many of Britains finest archeaological treasures from Skara Brae to the Antonine Wall so it seems only appropriate.
SAM aims to make archeology as accessible as possible with a programme of mostly free events celebrating Scotlands rich antiquarian heritage. You dont need to be Indiana Jones to get involved folks of all ages and abilities are invited, right down to kids, who get their very own special sub-festival, SAM for Schools. SAM is also linked with Doors Open Days Scotland.
In 2009, the festival celebrates its 10th birthday. To help you choose from the many treasures waiting to be accessed, weve put together a handy top 10 of Scottish Archeaology Month events well worth digging up.
1. Hands On Archaeology @ Bennachie Homecoming Festival
Bennachie Centre, Aberdeenshire, August 7-9
Scottish archeaologists, in association with Forestry Commission Rangers, will treat participant to a hands-on demonstration of what being an archeaologist is really all about. Before you ask: no, it doesnt involve wearing a fedora, cracking a whip and battling Nazis.
2. Archaeology in Angus
Angus Signal Tower, Arbroath, Angus, September 7-30
Many fine treasures have been unearthed in the Angus area of northern Scotland, including coins of Kings James III, IV and VI and a 15th century fede fidelity ring. This temporary exhibition show many of these fine and important pieces daily throughout September.
3. Theres a Time and a Place Montrose Time Line
Montrose Museum and Art Gallery, Montrose, Angus, September 1-October 31
The town of Montrose and its surrounding area has a rich past stretching all the way back to the Stone Age. As part of SAM, this special exhibition will display a time line, tied in with artefacts and events, illustrating the history of the region.
4. Crail Guided Walk
Crail Museum, Crail, Fife, September 6
The small East Neuk of Fife fishing village of Crail is overflowing with history some of it ancient, some of it more recent. This guided walk by local experts will take in sites from the famous stone harbour to the nearby airfield, covering seafaring traditions, local folklore and architecture.
5. Search for Vikings within a Bronze Age Landscape
Latheron, Caithness, September 12
The Wag of Forse in Caithness dates back to the Iron Age, but it has been occupied multiple times. This walk will explore the site in search of later-period Viking cattle sheds. Waterproofs and strong shoes are a must.
6. Birnie Excavations Open Day
Birnie, near Elgin, Moray, September 13
Archeaological investigations at Birnie have uncovered a site of Iron Age and Pictish origins, which was once a powerful regional centre with strong links to the Romans. This open day will give a fascinating insight into the ongoing work there.
7. Gunnister Man Exhibition and Events
The New Shetland Museum and Archives, Lerwick, Shetland, September 12-November 1
The Gunnister Man who is believed to have died a mysterious death around 1700 was discovered in 1951, by men digging for peat in a Northmavine, Shetland. Although little of his remains survived, his clothing and possessions have, and theyll go on display for the first time at this exhibition.
8. The Secret of Gray Mares Tail
Near Moffat, Dumfries and Galloway, September 13
Taking place in the South West Scotland countryside surrounding the spectacular hanging valley waterfall Gray Mares Tale, this walk will take in an Iron Age fort, Bronze Age cairns and hiding spots used by 17th century covenanters.
9. Schools Only Event: Archaeologists at Work
Stanley Mill, Perthshire, September 16, 17, 23 & 24
At this schools only event, budding young archeaologists will get a chance to become time detectives and use real tools and techniques to help piece together the past of the Stanley Mill on the River Tay.
10. Animals in Archaeology
Dundee Museum, Dundee, September 19
As well as being a study of human history, archeaology is often about the examination of animal remains. This handling session will focus on animal remains found on archaeological digs throughout Scotland.
Check out the Archaeology Scotland website for further details on all of these events and more.
Birnie dig photo by Veganfamily; all rights reserved.