An archaeological evaluation conducted by AOC Archaeology Group on a site proposed for housing development at Greenan, Ayr, has identified evidence for prehistoric activity. This evaluation follows on from two previous pieces of fieldwork conducted in the area, both of which also identified evidence for settlement of this period. An evaluation, comprising trenching and fieldwalking, took place in 1998 on ground to the north and west of the current development site; this identified evidence of buildings and lithic artefacts. A programme of fieldwalking undertaken in 2001 on the development area itself recovered a total of 528 lithic artefacts concentrated in two main scatters close to the coast, on opposite sides of a shallow valley. While the presence of numerous small blades, flakes and parent cores suggested a Mesolithic date for this assemblage, a Neolithic axe head was also recovered. Multi-period occupancy, in the form of Mesolithic activity and Bronze Age settlement, has also been identified from the area to the east of the development site at Alisa View (WoSAS Event ID 1225).
Given the abundance of evidence for multi-period occupation in the surrounding area, the West of Scotland Archaeology Service advised that further evaluation should take place on the site, as the initial stage of a multi-phase programme of archaeological works. Accordingly, thirty-one trial trenches were opened across the proposed development area, with the aim of determining the character, extent, condition, quality, date and significance of any buried archaeological remains present within the site. These trenches revealed two pits of probable Neolithic date, both of which produced lithics, with one also containing prehistoric pottery. The pits were found in association with a linear feature, which was interpreted as a possible palisade or windbreak. A further two isolated pit features were also recorded, one of which was a probable fire pit. An isolated linear feature was also investigated, and a total of 280 lithics were retrieved from the evaluation trench spoil.
The features and associated artefactual assemblage found within the initial evaluation illustrate the presence of early prehistoric activity within the area. The features were both poorly preserved and dispersed over two loci, though the grouping of features and artefacts may suggest remnants of unenclosed prehistoric settlement situated on slightly higher ground, perhaps formerly surrounded by poorly drained land or bog. These features may represent the ephemeral remains of former campsites or less formal structures. The artefacts recovered from the pit features suggest a Neolithic date for this activity, an interpretation that is reinforced by the recovery of the Neolithic polished stone axe during the field-walking programme previously undertaken over the site. The lithic material recovered from the walking of the trenches appears on initial observations to be Mesolithic in date, with many of the artefacts suggestive of a typical narrow blade industry. Following the results of this initial evaluation, the site will now be subject to further phases of investigation.