Search for Old Deer’s lost monastery

The project excavations will begin on Saturday at the Old Deer Parish Churchyard
The project excavations will begin on Saturday at the Old Deer Parish Churchyard

Archaeologists are set to begin their search to find the lost early medieval monastery of Old Deer this Saturday, September 5.

As part of The Book of Deer Project, archaeologists and local volunteers will attempt to locate the lost monastery by digging trenches in the Old Deer Parish Churchyard.

The project focuses on the historic connections between the Book of Deer and the area around Old Deer

Derek Jennings Book of Deer Project

The project is named after The Book of Deer which is a small Gospel Book believed to have been created at an early Pictish monastery in Old Deer, before 1100 AD.

Other than the book, which now sits in the Cambridge University Library, there are no other traces of the monastery’s existence.

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.”

In July, Rose Geophysical Consultants carried out a ground-penetrating radar survey at the Old Deer Parish Church and they discovered the remains of a building 10m long and 7m wide under the east side of the church.

Since then Cameron Archaeology Ltd alongside the project applied to excavate a couple of trenches in order to discover the building beneath.

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 will complete their work in Old Deer on Wednesday, September 9.

Excavations at stone foundations in Aden Country Park began yesterday (Wednesday) and will finish tomorrow.