Unearth the secrets of Deeside at dig day

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The National Trust for Scotland is inviting members of the public to join a team of archaeologists in an exciting project at Crathes Castle.

Deesiders can help unearth the history of one of Aberdeenshire’s finest castles with the ‘Dig for a Day’ programme, which runs from October 11-25.

The scheme is open to anyone aged 10 and over, who can commit at least one day to the project.

On October 5, the project will celebrate the national ‘Silver Sunday’ initiative, reserved for over 65s only.

Members of the public who join the archaeologists will be helping with an exciting research programme which could uncover remains of the castle’s 16th century courtyard, alongside garden features and buildings which once clustered around the impressive tower-house.

An archaeological dig at Crathes in 2013 led archaeologists to discover what they believed to be the world’s oldest lunar ‘calendar’. Excavations of a field at the castle unearthed a series of 12 pits, which appeared to mimic the phases of the moon and track lunar months.

The project’s educational programme will also involve school pupils in the excavations, giving them first-hand experience of how archaeologists uncover hidden history.

Trust archaeologist Shannon Fraser said: “Crathes Castle estate boasts an incredibly rich heritage of archaeological sites, including a remarkable ceremonial site first used over 10,000 years ago.

“We are hoping our excavations on the castle lawn will cast light on the early history of the tower – and if we’re really lucky we might find evidence of medieval buildings where the family lived before they built the castle. It’s a fantastic opportunity for members of the public to help us delve into the past!”

Apart from the chance to grab a trowel and join in, the project programme includes daily, 10-minute talks on the latest discoveries. These will take place at 11am and 2pm, excepting Wednesdays.

Dr Fraser will also give two 30-minute talks on the estate’s fascinating prehistoric past at 11.30am in the castle cafe on October 16 (Scotland’s earliest ceremonial monument?) and October 23 (Building and burning a great timber hall).

For more information or to book your place on the dig call 0844 493 2166.