Amateur archaeologists being sought to help unearth secrets of Tullos Hill

8 August 2012

Amateur archaeologists will join forces with professionals this summer for a Time Team-style dig to unearth the historic secrets of Aberdeen's Tullos Hill.

The hill has long been known as an important archaeological site because of the four Bronze Age burial cairns there: Cat Cairn; Baron's Cairn; Crab's Cairn; and Tullos Cairn, which are scheduled as monuments of national significance.

At the other end of the historic timeline Tullos Hill was the location of an anti-aircraft battery and later a prisoner of war camp in World War II. A few remnants of hut bases from that era survived on the hill.

For many years it was thought that landfill operations since the 1960s had destroyed any other historic remains, but a survey by archaeologists from CFA Archaeology in 2004 recorded the presence of around 150 other archaeological features, ranging in date from prehistory to World War II.

A community excavation led by CFA was held in 2010 and was well attended by budding archaeologists. Volunteers are now being sought for another season of excavation work planned for August 22 to September 4, including weekends. This will be led by CFA and is open to anyone aged 14 or over who is able to spend time outdoors in all weathers and would like to increase their practical knowledge of archaeology. Appropriate training will be given.

Judith Stones, Aberdeen City Council's lead curator (local history and archaeology), is encouraging people to sign up for this unique opportunity.

She said: "This is a great opportunity for local people to work alongside professional archaeologists to discover more about this rich historic landscape, and for visitors to understand more about the past, present and future of Tullos Hill. People can come for the entire period or for part of it. It will be hard work but a lot of fun and provide a fantastic insight into one of Aberdeen's most historically significant sites."

Bruce Glendinning, Project Manager with CFA Archaeology, said: "We are looking forward to another season of exciting discoveries and the opportunity to work with the local community who were so enthusiastic the last time. Don't worry if you don't know one end of a trowel from the other we will show you how it's done."

The excavation is being funded through the council's waste management service.

Aberdeen City Council Waste and Recycling Manager Peter Lawrence said: "Because of the major significance of Tullos Hill as an archaeological landscape, all groundworks associated with the present landfill re-capping have been watched by an archaeologist, who has had the opportunity to record any new discoveries."

Volunteers are sought to take part in the dig, which runs from August 22 to September 4. Those wishing to get involved must contact CFA Archaeology by calling 0131 273 4380 or e-mailing

Although visitors are welcome throughout the dig, there will be an open day on Saturday, September 1 from 10am-4pm when there will be opportunities to dig and take part on guided walks of the historical sites on Tullos Hill.