Evaluation undertaken by staff from Headland Archaeology Ltd has identified the presence of significant prehistoric archaeology at Kettlestoun Mains on the outskirts of Linlithgow - however, the material revealed was not what was expected in advance. The work is taking place in relation to a possible expansion of the nearby leisure centre, a proposal that raised two archaeological issues. The first of these related to a circular crop-mark identified on aerial photographs taken by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) in 1981, and shown at the top of this page. The second related to the position of the field proposed for development in relation to the site of the Battle of Linlithgow Bridge, and the possibility that material associated with the advance or rout of troops may be present. As a result of this, WoSAS advised that a metal-detecting survey and evaluation trenching should taken place, in order to assess the effect of any development on archaeological material.
The metal detector survey was undertaken by members of the Scottish Artefact Recovery Group in association with Headland Archaeology, but identified very few metal artefacts. This may be because the area has been subject to previous metal-detecting, or because the depth of topsoil present in some areas of the site was too great. Whatever the explanation, it provided little definite evidence relating to the battlefield. The trial trenches excavated across the cropmark enclosure proved similarly negative, with no evidence for a ditch, palisade slot or line of post-holes, suggesting that the enclosure visible from the air may be a surface feature. However, trenching elsewhere on the site did identify the presence of significant evidence for prehistoric occupation.
A line of four post-holes was identified in one of the evaluation trenches. Two distinct types of post-hole were present, with two deeper pits being interspersed with shallower examples. A fifth post-hole was identified at the edge of the same trench, and prehistoric pottery was identified from the fill of these features. Elsewhere on the site, two cremations were uncovered, one of which was found just off the summit of a very slight knoll. Analysis has not yet been carried out on the cremated bone to determine what species in is from, but the position of the cremation in the landscape would suggest that it is likely to represent a human burial.