Excavations at Birnie, Moray, 2002. - NMS Research Repository
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Excavations at Birnie, Moray, 2002.

2003

Abstract

The unenclosed Iron Age site at Birnie, Moray, was an important settlement in the region. Two Roman silver coin hoards have been found on the site, providing an unrivalled opportunity to investigate connections with Rome in the late second century. It seems they were part of a policy of "gifts" or bribes to powerful locals to keep the Roman frontier secure and peaceful. Excavations in 2002 located the edge of the settlement on the southern side. The site occupied a slightly raised plateau on the edge of the gravel terrace, covering an area of some 150 x 120 m. Further evaluation trenches confirmed the dense occupation of the site in both the Iron Age and Medieval periods. The main thrust of the work was to investigate the area immediately east of the hoards. This revealed two more roundhouses, confirming gthe hoards lay in the heart of the settlement. It is unclear how much of this occupation is contemporary, although the settlement was obviously long-lived. There is evidence of bronze-working during the Roman Iron Age, another indicator of the site's importance as this was an uncommon craft at the time. Metal-detecting produced some striking finds,including a Medieval crucifixion scene and a Romano-British enamelled bronze bird. This lay some distance to the south-east of the site. Trial trenching here found the remains of a heavily-damaged ditch, probably a land boundary of uncertain date.

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