The second season of the Kilwinning Community Archaeology Project got underway last Wednesday, and the results of the first week of fieldwork are highly encouraging. The team is exposing and recording buried medieval structures that were originally found in 1960s clearance work at the Abbey, but which were very poorly recorded at that time. Volunteers, with professional support from Rathmell Archaeology, will be involved in historical research, oral history studies, survey, excavation, post-excavation analyses and reporting.
Four trenches have been opened so far. The first of these, placed in the Cloister Garth, seeks to re-expose structural features potentially linked to the subdivision of this space in the early to mid 16th century. By the end of the first week, the trench was beginning to expose masonry in addition to the east-west wall previously exposed last year in the area.
The second of the trenches is located in the shade of a small copse of trees to the west of the Cloisters. This ground was disturbed in the 1960s, but lies beyond the known 19th century houses, on the fringe of the original Abbey Green. By the end of the week the trench was down to the upper subsoil surface, and after initially focusing on emptying the service trench for an old water pipe, the team also located three pits of potential medieval date cut into the subsoil.
The third trench, opened in the South Transept, aims to expose the foundations for the Great Pier supporting the SW corner of the Crossing Tower and to examine the medieval floor levels. By the end of the week, the team had progressed in teasing apart a complex sequence of modern disturbance in the South Transept, and in some places locating a compact/robust floor surface.
The final trench opened in the first week of work lies in the SW corner of the Chapter House. Although it is known that the area was excavated in the 1960s, the scale of the work undertaken at that time was not well recorded. Early success in this trench saw with multiple medieval pottery sherds and three fragments of incised slate recovered, as well as exposing the boulder foundations of the building. This trench remains in 1960s disturbed ground.
This season's works will run from Wednesday 17th August to Saturday 17th September, with the teams working on-site between Wednesday and Saturday each week. You can keep up to date with progress on the Project's Facebook page.