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

0ac4e86b-6316-4c82-b2ef-125e86e0246c

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 "Scottish history" 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 industrialist Thomas Blake Glover died - On this day in Scottish history

Scottish industrialist Thomas Blake Glover died on 13 December 1911, at the age of 73.


Anne of Denmark - mother of King Charles I - was born - On this day in history

Anne of Denmark, mother of King Charles I, was born on 12 December 1574.


Local Landscape Heroes heritage trail opens at Roman Bathhouse, Strathclyde Country Park

North Lanarkshire Provost, Jean Jones, has opened a new Local Landscape Heroes heritage trail which explores ...


Did Mary Queen of Scots play a role in Lord Darnley’s murder?

Was Mary Queen of Scots guilty of involvement in the murder of her second husband, Henry Lord Darnley? Robert ...


Other Articles

A meal that changed the course of history? Make the mussel brose Bonnie Prince Charlie ate on the eve of Culloden

Recreate the food that Bonnie Prince Charlie enjoyed at his final dinner before the Battle of Culloden, with ...


Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh died - On this day in history

Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh died on 10 December 1928.


Malcolm IV King of Scots died - On this day in Scottish history

Malcolm IV, King of Scotland, died at Jedburgh on 9 December 1165.


Mary Queen of Scots was born - On this day in Scottish history

Mary Queen of Scots was born at Linlithgow Palace on 8 December 1542.