In October and November 2010, staff from Headland Archaeology Ltd undertook evaluation trenching on an area proposed for new housing to the south-east of Ayr. This evaluation revealed what appeared to be a plough-damaged prehistoric site with pits and gullies or small ditched features comprising possible domestic structures and enclosures. After the evaluation, the site was re-covered, and was only fully excavated in August of this year. Around 60 cut features were recorded, and two structures, one circular and the other sub-circular, were identified. Material and samples taken during the excavation have been subject to a range of post-excavation analysis, and this has produced surprising results.
Although the two structures identified during the excavation were superficially similar, samples taken from them both produced significantly different radiocarbon dates. A sample taken from the circular structure returned a radiocarbon date of 37calBC-calAD120, which would support the interpretation based on morphology that this represented the remains of an Iron Age roundhouse. The placement of the entrance to the south-east of the building would support this, as this is fairly typical of later prehistoric roundhouses. The clusters of features in the interior of the building are likely to be associated with the use of the structure, with a small pit containing fire-cracked stones and abundant charcoal likely to represent a small hearth.
The evidence for the function of the sub-circular structure is less clear, as its shape on plan differs from that of the adjacent roundhouse. There is no clear evidence of an entrance and the form of the ditches - wider and deeper - suggests this structure may be have been a small enclosure formed by a ditch and low bank rather than a roundhouse. The sample recovered for radiocarbon dating from the subcircular structure returned an early medieval date of calAD692-886, suggesting the feature it was taken from was in use several hundred years later than the roundhouse.
The medieval radiocarbon date does not necessarily mean that the subbcircular structure is also of that date - it is possible that the feature dated may not be related to the structure, and could represent a later phase of activity. From other excavation evidence, however, it appears more likely that the subcircular structure was related to the roundhouse; for example, the close proximity of the two structures is a strong indicator they were related, and the evaluation of 2010 revealed their location to be the only concentration of archaeological features in the immediate area. They also display similar levels and patterns of truncation, with both having higher levels of truncation on their north-west side, suggesting they were constructed on a contemporary ground level. This could suggest a long tradition of occupation on the site, from the Iron Age into the early medieval period - indeed, a small pit containing the prehistoric pottery sherds and pitchstone blade was identified to the south of roundhouse and although this does not appear to be related to the two main structures, it also suggests activity in the area during the Neolithic.