EHG4261 - Trial trenching and test pits - Castle Sinclair Girnigoe



Field Archaeology Specialists Ltd (FAS)


July-Nov 2004


FAS carried out excavation of 16 trenches at Castle Sinclair Girnigoe in Wick, Caithness in two phases in July to August, and October and November 2004. Intervention 6 represented the westernmost trench, situated outside the dry moat in the area of the West Barbican. The trenched measured 4.0m x 1.0m and was designed to investigate the nature of a linear earthwork visible at ground level, and to provide details of the nature of archaeological deposits to inform the design of the proposed bridge / link walkway into the castle. Intervention 7 was located approximately 5.0m east of intervention 6, with the intention of investigating the West Barbican area and to assess and characterise the level and position of the original link to the West Gatehouse entrance. Intervention 8, a 1.0m x 1.0m trench, was located c/30m to the southeast of the West Gatehouse. This was one of three trenches of the same size excavated to receive fence-posts with the aim of recording any archaeological remains that were to be disturbed. Intervention 9, similar to and located c.7.0m west of Intervention 8, was excavated to a similar depth of approx. 0.50m. Intervention 10, the third of the 1.0m x 1.0m test pits was situated around 35m to the southwest of the West gatehouse and was excavated to a depth of 0.60m. Intervention 11 was situated next to the previous season of works trench known as Investigation 3, within the walls of the Porter's Lodge. It was a 2.0m x 2.0m trench excavated to a depth of 0.80m, ceasing when identifiable occupation deposits were encountered. Intervention 12 was situated within the courtyard of the castle, close to the northern corner of the West Gatehouse. This intervention was the first of six 2.0m x 2.0m trenches to be opened up surrounding the perimeter of the West gatehouse to form foundation trenches for concrete bases to support scaffolding. Excavated to a depth of 1.0m where the natural slate bedrock was encountered. Intervention 13 was excavated within the dry moat and was positioned to assess the nature of archaeological remains in the footprint of the scaffolding to support the West gatehouse. The 2.0m x 1.5m trench was excavated adjacent to the bedrock stack on which the gatehouse was constructed, to a depth of 2.0m. Intervention 14 was situated 6.0m to the northwest of Intervention 13 and occupied a similar location in the dry moat. Intervention 15 was located across the entrance to the vaulted passageway through the West Gatehouse. The 3.0m x 2.0m trench was designed to assess the depth and nature of deposits that had accumulated and to define the level of the latest floor surface within the passage. Intervention 16 was situated in the centre of the dry moat to the southwest of the Gatehouse, within the footprint of a base for the temporary bridge. Intervention 17 was situated 3.0m north of intervention 16, in the dry moat abutting the bedrock stack, in the proposed location of a concrete base for scaffolding which was subsequently abandoned. It was excavated to 1.5m in depth. Intervention 18 was the first of three trenches excavated to assess the nature of remains within the Outer Bailey area. Measuring 3.0m x 3.0m it was positioned to investigate the south eastern exterior of the North Range, it was excavated to a depth of 1.25m. Intervention 19 was located 8.0m to the east of intervention 18 and was situated over the postulated site of a set of stairs leading into the North range with the intention of assessing the condition of the buried fabric and establishing the respective levels of the courtyard and staircase. The trench measured 2.5m x 1.5m and was excavated to a depth of 1.0m. Intervention 20 was situated 1.5m to the southeast of intervention 19 in the postulated position of the East Range of the Outer Bailey. The trench measured 3.5m x 1.5m and was excavated to a depth of 0.84m. The final intervention, 21, was designed to remove the rubble overburden over the vaulted passageway through the West Gatehouse, and to record the deposits that had accumulated in order to facilitate structural assessment and consolidation of the vault. An area of approximately 2.3m x .15m was excavated and recorded in detail before the excavation of a further 2.3m x 3.0m to the southwest was carried out. <1>

Sources/Archives (1)



Location Wick, Caithness
Grid reference Centred ND 3781 5488 (63m by 62m) (2 map features)
Map sheet ND35SE
Civil Parish WICK
Geographical Area CAITHNESS

Related Monuments/Buildings (1)

  • Castle Sinclair Girnigoe (Monument)

External Links (0)

Record last edited

Mar 14 2023 4:05PM

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