Historical Archaeology and the 'Colony': Reflections on fieldwork at a 19th-century settlement in rural Scotland

Jeffry Monson Oliver, Gordon Noble, Colin Shepherd, Richard Knecht, Karen Beatrice Milek, Oskar Gisli Sveinbjarnarson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


What can archaeology contribute to the 19th-century history of Bennachie? A recent collaborative effort between the University of Aberdeen and the Bailies of Bennachie is beginning to shed new light on the cultural landscape of the Colony site. Two seasons of shovel test-pitting and a single season deturfing 19th- century crofting structures indicates a much richer and more ambiguous legacy of the so-called ‘squatters’, who once called Bennachie home. Initial observations suggest an interesting amount of internal variation at the site, hinting at various forms of social and economic distinction. At the same time, other patterns suggest important commonalities with contemporary rural settlements. The creation of a variety of data sets has prompted many new questions and has set the stage for future research collaborations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBennachie and the Garioch
Subtitle of host publicationSociety and the Ecology in the History of North-East Scotland
EditorsColin Shepherd
Place of PublicationChapel of Garioch
PublisherThe Bailies of Bennachie
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)9780957638402
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2013

Publication series

NameBennachie Landscapes
PublisherBailies of Bennachie

Bibliographical note

This project has benefited immensely from collaborations with a large
group of people who have given their time, in a variety of ways, to help us better
understand the Colony site. The archaeological investigations described here were undertaken by The Bailies of Bennachie and members of the public. Particular mention must go to Jackie Cumberbirch, Barry Foster, Colin Miller, Angela Groat, Moyra Simon, Paul Bygrave, Iain Ralston, Brian Cornock, Jane Summers and the students of Aboyne Academy, Carys Thorn, Peter Thorn, Andy Wood, Diane Collinson, Alison Kennedy, Maria Cowie, David Irving, Harry Leil, Ewen Rennie and Tim Grundey who participated, rain or shine.
We would also like to thank RCAHMS for assistance with sketch surveys
and the plane table survey of Hillside Farm and Jenny Johnson, School of
Geosciences, for drafting the 1:20 scale plan of Hillside. The Forestry Commission kindly provided support in the form of access to the site and we would also like to acknowledge a generous grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (Grant AHRC-1038-GN).


  • Historical Archaeology
  • Scotland
  • improvement
  • crofters
  • squatters
  • Bennachie


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