North-east pupils get digging at Aden!

Pupils from five North-east schools have taken part in an archeological dig at Aden Country Park near Mintlaw.

The youngsters - from Kininmonth, Longside, Maud, Pitfour and Stuartfield primary schools - took part in the excavation project near Hareshowe at the popular country park recently.

P4/5 pupils from Maud School with some of the event helpers.

P4/5 pupils from Maud School with some of the event helpers.

During the course of the day, each class was split into two, with one half going on the archeological dig and the other half taking part in object-handling activities.

For the archeological dig, the children were taken to the site near Hareshowe which is believed to have been a secret Episcopalian meeting place.

The secret nature of the meeting place was due to the persecution of Episcopalians, who were banned from meeting together in large numbers hundred of years ago.

Organisers said the purpose of the dig was to find associations with the Monastery of Deer.

Meanwhile, the object-handling part of the day - which was delivered by the Aberdeenshire Museum Service - featured various artefacts from the area which are now accessible to the public.

The day was organised by the Book of Deer Project along with Ali Cameron of Cameron Archeology.

Organiser Derek Jennings of the Book of Deer Project said: “The project focuses on the historic connections between the Book of Deer and the area around Old Deer.

“The activities of the project are designed to ensure the community does not lose sight of its cultural roots. We should be proud of this Scottish icon and celebrate one of the great gems of our history.”

Chair of the Book of Deer Project Alan Cameron added: “What we’re trying to do is raise the profile of the Monastery of Deer and the Book of Deer in the community.

“The Monastery was possibly founded as early as the 6th Century by St Columba, whereas the Abbey of Deer was founded in the 13th Century.

“We will be exploring the Old Deer kirk yard to see if that’s where the Monastery was.”

As well as recording and doing some exploratory excavation at the Aden Country Park site with the school pupils, the team were also due to be digging trenches in Old Deer churchyard from September 5 to 9.

This latest phase of the project, supported by archaeologists and local volunteers, was an attempt to locate the Monastery of Deer.

Aberdeenshire Council archaeologist Bruce Mann said: “At this stage the survey results are almost too good to be true, but if this really is an earlier church then it may be key in understanding the location of the lost monastery.”

The project has been funded by the Book of Deer Project and Aberdeenshire Council.