In 2008, trial trench evaluation at Barassie, Troon, identified archaeological features on a site proposed for development at Barassie, Troon, but it was not until January of this year that full excavation of these features took place. This phase of work, undertaken by GUARD Archaeology Ltd, concluded in March, and a report outlining the results has now been submitted. This produced evidence for prehistoric occupation on the site.
In the evaluation carried out prior to the excavation, a possible hearth with heat cracked stones and scorched soil was found. South of this feature two possible postholes were encountered, with a small fragment of prehistoric ceramic found within one of these. Even though they were quite close to the hearth, there was not any apparent pattern which could suggest a possible structure. Four stake holes were also encountered in the vicinity of the hearth, forming two parallel alignments. Two of them were dug during the evaluation phase, and a sherd of pottery was retrieved from the bottom of one of them.
During the 2012 phase of work, the trench was expanded up to a maximum of 150 m radius of the original features revealed during the evaluation phase. The expansion of the trench terminated 30 m from the last archaeological feature encountered, in order to retain focus on the known remains across the site. This revealed some 19 discrete pits, 16 postholes, 2 stakeholes, a ditch-defined roundhouse, one post-ring roundhouse, a possible post-ring roundhouse and two linear ditches as well as many cultivation furrows and linear drains known to exist from previous evaluation of the site. Prehistoric ceramic and lithics found in some of the pits have been provisionally dated between the late-Mesolithic to Late Neolithic period.
The archaeological remains found at Barassie, Troon indicate that the area had been used for occupation possibly from as early as the Later Mesolithic period. There is certainly strong evidence of structural remains containing fragments of Neolithic material culture. The site was also cultivated from at least the Medieval/post-Medieval period until modern times. The presence of Mesolithic assemblages is of particular note as few inland sites had been recorded across Scotland, possibly due to the hunter-gatherer/fisher nature of nomadic society.
Additional prehistoric settlement is evident from the discovery of fragmentary remains of three possible roundhouses, although the field systems often associated with these dwelling were not found, and may lie outside the development site. In Britain, roundhouses often have entrances at the south-east, presumably in order to avoid the prevailing winds, although variations on this configuration are not unknown. The entrance is usually visible as a break in the circuit of the ditch and is often flanked by large structural postholes that would have held the upright timbers for the doorway. At Barassie, the evidence for an entrance to these dwellings is not clear-cut due to later truncation. Moreover, only in one of the roundhouses was an interior hearth found. The lack of hearth in the other roundhouses could be the result of later truncation from cultivation or could indicate the use of these structures as enclosure rather than settlement. Roundhouses frequently present structural postholes in their interior forming concentric structures which would support the roof. The fact that none of these interior features were identified in two of the structures at Barassie may lead us to consider them as enclosures. However post-excavation analysis should help clarify their function.