Lathe-turning at Black Loch

Alternative view wasterExcavations at Black Loch of Myrton in Dumfries and Galloway from 2015 to 2019 have yielded fascinating new information about life in the Iron Age. Our work has focussed on a very well preserved early Iron Age settlement located on an island of peat within a small shallow loch, long since drained.Wooden waster

In 2018, one of our most exciting finds was was a lathe-turned bowl which, in terms of its shape and decoration, is currently unique in the British Isles – so we did wonder whether it might have been imported to the site. However, this year, during our final season of excavation at Black Loch we found a piece of evidence which demonstrates that lathe-turning was actually being undertaken on the settlement, so the bowl may well have been manufactured there: a waster from the interior of a vessel. The interior would have been chiselled out while on the pole-lathe, leaving a core in the centre where the bowl roughout was fixed to the lathe. The square hole visible at one end is where the mandrel of the lathe would have been inserted. Once as much of the interior as possible had been removed, the bowl would have been taken off the lathe and the projecting core cut out. We have not yet begun study of this find so we do not know what species of wood had been used or what shape and size of vessel was being turned; these and many other questions will be considered during our analysis.

small wreath-like object made from withies

Another highlight of this year’s excavation was this little circlet of twisted withies (left). Measuring only around 3cm across we can only speculate about what it might have been used for – securing a lid to a wooden bowl perhaps?

Excavations at Blach Loch of Myrton are carried out by AOC’s archaeologists along with volunteers, who receive training, guidance and much gratitude in return for their hard work in very muddy conditions! 

Excavations at Black Loch of Myrton have been made possible thanks to support from Historic Environment Scotland.

You can watch a number of short films about our work at Black Loch of Myrton on Vimeo.