Staff from CFA Archaeology Ltd have recently completed a programme of archaeological work in relation to the construction of a twenty-three turbine wind farm centred on Dersalloch and Black Hill, South Ayrshire. The development layout for the wind farm had been designed to avoid cultural heritage features where possible, but despite this, six cultural heritage sites within the wind farm site were predicted to receive direct physical effects as a result of the construction of the wind farm and required archaeological mitigation. Other sites required demarcation to preserve them in situ and a watching brief was undertaken during topsoil stripping operations in targeted locations.
The majority of the roads were built of floating construction and therefore watching briefs were limited to ground breaking work in areas of higher archaeological potential. The known upstanding archaeological sites in this area tend to be clustered around areas of drier land around Dersalloch Hill in the centre of the site and around the Shalloch Burn to the south-east, consisting of small green knolls raised above the surrounding moorland. These areas were considered to have higher archaeological potential as a result.
During the course of monitoring work, a section was recorded across a linear field bank where it was cut by the access track, and two clusters of archaeological features were identified during soil stripping at turbines 19 and 20. These consisted of a shallow linear feature and a number of small and shallow pit features. Sample processing and finds analysis alongside radiocarbon dating indicate that the contents of the pits are Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age in date, suggesting sporadic activity in the earlier prehistoric period around Dersalloch Hill. It is not possible to say whether all of the pits within each cluster are prehistoric in date and, apart from one which contained a large number of charred hazelnut shell fragments. it is difficult to elucidate their function. It is also important to reiterate that these features were only identified where development work extended below the level of the peat that covers much of the area, with other elements such as access tracks being constructed to float above the level of the ground that preceded peat formation; as a result, it remains possible that a more extensive relic landscape may survive sealed below this deposit.