14/03/2017
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New public archaeological dig to take place at King's College Aberdeen

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Researchers at the University of Aberdeen have been awarded £10,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund for a dig to uncover evidence of a grammar school which once stood close to historic King's College Chapel.

Members of the public, university students and school pupils will all be invited to become involved with the project, which will coincide with Aberdeen University's May Festival. 

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Dr Gordon Noble, who will be leading the project, spoke about what the team hope to find: "We are specifically targeting a building which used to be attached to the front of King’s College that served as a grammar school in the 16th century."

“The school is shown on a 1661 map of Aberdeen but actually dates back to at least 1533 when the statutes and laws of the school were written down by the University Grammarian Theophilius Stewart. 

“It acted as a preparatory school for pupils who wished to study at the university and pupils underwent a gruelling timetable, with prayers, classes on the Latin authors and language lessons and discipline was strict with pupils referred to as qui sub nostra ferula  - ‘those who soldier on under our cane’.

“The dig will aim to elucidate elements of the ground-plan of the building, assess its survival for future investigation and to recover elements of the material culture of early schooling.

How to get involved

The excavation work will have a community focus, with archaeology workshops, tours of the university and other complementary events, and will also celebrate the 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology. 

Researchers will combine the excavations with an exploration of archive material, in order to build up an accurate history of the grammar school and its links to Kig's College, as Dr Noble explained: "The archaeology of the site has the potential to provide a much richer picture of early education but although geophysical surveys will be carried out ahead of the dig to help us to pinpoint what we are looking for, there is always a chance we will not uncover the evidence expected. 

“To ensure we can still add rich detail to the history of the Grammar School in the event of limited evidence being uncovered, we will also work with the archive material from the University’s Special Collections and Marischal Museum collections."

To find out more about the University's May Festival, visit their website where you can also find details of the public archaeological events once these are released.

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