Current Projects

The Biggar Archaeology Group has undertaken the task of investigating the archaeology, from earliest times, of an area of approximately 1000 sq. km that lies mainly to the south and east of Biggar.

Consisting largely of  uplands in the south, the area is dissected by the valleys of the rivers Clyde and Tweed, the east-west valley – the so-called ‘Biggar Gap’ – extending from Broughton to a little east of Biggar, that connects them and the broad east-west valley through Biggar itself.

The terrain is thus readily divisible into areas of convenient size for projects that involve, in the first instance, landscape survey combined, as opportunity arises and resources permit, with arable field walking. Based on the evidence derived from these, a limited number of excavations have been carried out, preferentially of sites under threat from deep ploughing, forestry or neglect.

Map showing survey area of Biggar Archaeology

The Biggar Surveys

The boundaries, physical and notional, of the survey projects are not fixed. Thus, what began as a search for further examples of bastle houses – the Clydesdale Bastle Project – was transformed into the first major landscape survey – the Upper Clyde Survey.

As the landscape surveys approach completion, opportunities have presented themselves for more detailed studies of various aspects of the archaeology taking into account the nature and date of the sites involved.

These studies currently being carried out by the Biggar Archaeology Group or already completed, are research-oriented and cover a broad spectrum. They arise from the findings of the many years of landscape surveying. Thus, The Pitchstone Project examined the occurrences of this relatively rare lithic material recovered by field walking and excavation at various prehistoric, mostly Neolithic sites.

An overview of the current Research projects and the special reports  on particular elements of these that have been revealed as a result of the discoveries made over the years is given below.

Fruid Reservoir excavation

Fruid reservoir excavation – part of the Tweed Project

Pre-history North of Biggar Project

This Project was initiated to examine the perception that, on the limited available evidence, the Neolithic inhabitants tended to favour the area that lay to the north of Biggar whereas the Bronze Age people preferred the lands to the south of the town. In an effort to enlarge the database of relevant sites, in 1995 a major programme of arable field walking was begun.

Biggar Gap Project

This project explores the long-held assumption that the Biggar Gap would have been a route utilised by hunter gatherers in the Mesolithic period making their way through the Borders into the Midland Valley. The excavation of one of what may well be a group of quarries for the extraction of chert, on the lands of Burnetland Farm, west of Broughton, is evidence of a sustained interest in the area on the part of the Mesolithic inhabitants. It is perhaps not a coincidence that these quarries in an outcrop of the Radiolarian Chert offer the north-bound traveller his last opportunity to stock up with tool-making materials

Excavations of Chert Mine

Chert extraction quarry – part of the Biggar Gap Project

The Upper Tweed Project

This project essentially involves upland survey and covers all of the land to the west and up river from the town of Peebles to the source of the River Tweed.

The Clydesdale Project

This major project evolved from a study of bastle houses into a wide-ranging investigation of the archaeology of Upper Clydesdale. It is subdivided into various topics of which the main ones are The Daer Valley Project, the on-going Bastle Houses Project and the Upland Survey Project.