Local school kids ‘dig’ A75 archaeology

Warren Bailie from Guard archaeology in the classroom

Archaeologists from GUARD Archaeology Ltd have reached out to two local primary schools as part of a programme developed alongside Transport Scotland as part of the A75 Dunragit Bypass project to encourage interest in archaeology and local history.

The outreach programme was developed after significant discoveries were found during the extensive archaeological surveys undertaken prior to and during the construction works, shedding light on land use and settlement in the area over the past 9000 years.
Finds from across the Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages include a rare and complete 130-piece jet bead necklace dating to around 2000 BC - the first of its kind ever discovered in south west Scotland.  Other fascinating finds include an Iron Age Village, and a Bronze Age cemetery complex.

More than 50 pupils from Castlekennedy Primary School in Stranraer and Glenluce Primary School in Newton Stewart took part in the activity-filled programme. The pupils, from the P5, P6 and P7 classes, took part in clay modelling and paper craft activities. They also got to see some of the archaeological finds including pottery vessels and stone tools.

Transport Scotland’s Project Manager, Aisling Doyle, explained:

“The extraordinary finds at Dunragit provided an opportunity to develop an outreach programme with our archaeologists, which would not only introduce archaeology to the pupils but also give them an opportunity to see some of the artefacts found on the site up close.

“The key was to make it fun and exciting for the pupils so the team from GUARD encouraged pupils to draw and create their own clay artefacts whilst learning about the archaeological process and local history.

“They learned that the necklace discovered on site dating from around 2000 BC was made in Whitby in North Yorkshire some 250 kilometres from where it was discovered.”

She added:

“So not only is the A75 Dunragit bypass already improving journey times and providing economic opportunities on this crucial route– it has also led to the discovery of these archaeological finds and is shining a light on Scotland’s ancient past. This underlines why Transport Scotland places such importance on meeting its environmental obligations.”

Warren Bailie, GUARD’s Archaeological Project Officer, said:

“This was a valuable opportunity to engage with the local school children and to teach them about the significant prehistoric archaeology discovered around Dunragit during the A75 bypass construction. The drawing and clay modelling was a great way for the kids to learn about the lifestyles of past communities who utilised this landscape, thousands of years ago.”

Mr Ferguson, Acting Head Teacher from Glenluce Primary and Castle Kennedy Primary School, added:

“The children really enjoyed the experience and were stimulated by the range of activities and the Project Officer really raised their awareness of the historical significance of their locality.”

A post excavation analysis of the excavation finds is currently being finalised, examining the wealth of prehistoric archaeology discovered and which will inform how our ancestors lived during these ages. This  will culminate in two publications which are expected in 2020.