21/09/2017
Share this story Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Early Neolithic house discovered in Ayrshire by archaeologists

b854c7e6-a107-467b-ba4b-ff69089e7308

The remains of one of the oldest earliest houses in East Ayrshire, dating to the early Neolithic period (3500-4000 BC), have been uncovered by archaeologists from GUARD Archaeology.

The archaeological remains were uncovered in countryside near Kilmarnock while Scottish Water was working on an ongoing £120M project to upgrade the water mains network between Ayrshire and Glasgow.

Eight areas of archaeology were observed by the GUARD Archaeologists, who were monitoring the excavation works for the new pipeline. These included some prehistoric burnt spreads and pits but of particular note was the discovery of early Neolithic carinated bowl fragments in a number of post-holes forming part of a rectangular building near Hillhouse farm. This rectilinear hall, which measured 14 m in length and 8 m across, belongs to a type of house built by the first farming communities in Scotland.

The archaeological remains

GUARD Archaeology excavation director Kenneth Green said of the remains: ‘Heavily truncated by millennia of ploughing, only the deepest parts of some of the post-holes survived, arranged in a rectangular plan and containing sherds of early Neolithic pottery, hazelnut shell and charcoal.

‘The width and depth of these post-holes indicated that they once held very large upright timber posts, suggesting that this building was once a large house, probably home to an extended family or group of families.’

Scotland's earliest families

Up until this time, during the earlier Mesolithic period (c. 8000-4000 BC), Scotland was inhabited by small groups of hunter gatherers, who led a nomadic lifestyle living off the land. The individuals that built this Neolithic house were some of the earliest communities in Ayrshire to adopt a sedentary lifestyle, clearing areas of forest to establish farms, growing crops such as wheat and barley and raising livestock such as cattle, sheep, goats and pigs.

‘The pottery recovered from the Neolithic house are sherds of Carinated Bowl, one of the earliest types of pottery vessels ever to be used in Britain’ added Kenneth Green. ‘Traces of milk fat have been found in other carinated bowls found elsewhere in Scotland. Carinated Bowls are distributed across Scotland but very few have been found in the west so Hillhouse represents an important discovery.’

Further post-excavation analyses of the pottery charcoal and environmental samples taken during the excavation may reveal the precise date when the house was occupied and provide other insights that will improve our understanding of the spread of farming settlements across Neolithic Scotland.

Images from top:

GUARD Archaeologists clearing soil from around the Neolithic hall © GUARD Archaeology Ltd; Alignment of large post-holes belonging to Neolithic house © GUARD Archaeology Ltd; Close up of Carinated Bowl sherds found in Neolithic house © GUARD Archaeology Ltd

Back to "News" Category

21/09/2017 Share this story   Share on Facebook icon Share on Twitter icon Share on Pinterest icon Share on Google Plus icon Share on Linked In icon Share via Email icon

Recent Updates

Scottish pirate William Kidd was executed - On this day in history

Scottish pirate William Kidd was executed on 23 May 1701 in London. ...


Outlander map from VisitScotland updated with new season 3 locations around Scotland

New filming locations in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Ayrshire have been added to VisitScotland's Outlander tourist ...


The Quintinshill Rail disaster occurred - On this day in history

The Quintinshill Rail disaster, one of the worst train disasters in UK history, occurred on 22 May 1915.


Great Tapestry of Scotland opens at New Lanark

The Great Tapestry of Scotland is on display in the newly-developed exhibition at the UNESCO World Heritage ...


Other Articles

Scottish astronomer Williamina Fleming died - On this day in history

Pioneering Scottish female astronomer Williamina Fleming died on 21 May 1911.


The Battle of Nechtansmere was fought - On this day in history

The Battle of Nechtansmere (or Blar Dhun Neachdain) was fought on 20 May 685AD. ...


Author and diarist James Boswell died - On this day in history

Author and diarist James Boswell died on 19 May 1795, at the age of 54. ...


Photographer David Octavius Hill died - On this day in history

Pioneering photographer David Octavius Hill died on 17 May 1870.