Local pupils lend a hand at Crichie Dig

Kininmonth pupils dig at the site located just outside Stuartfield
Kininmonth pupils dig at the site located just outside Stuartfield

The Book of Deer Project have carried out another search for the monastery of Deer and received help from a number of local school pupils.

The main focus of the dig, carried out under the direction of Aberdeen-based Cameron Archaeology, was to look for any evidence of the original 10th century Pictish monastery where the Book of Deer may have been written.

The Book of Deer Project has been searching for the monastery site for many years and the main thrust of this year’s dig was focused on various fields around the graveyard at Stuartfield and Cheverton House (The Old Rectory).

The Book of Deer is Scotland’s oldest surviving manuscript with evidence of Scotland’s oldest surviving Gaelic containing place names from around Old Deer.

It contains the foundation legend for the early Monastery of Deer, how St Columba and St Drostan came to Deer and built a monastery, however it has never been established how large it was or where it was sited.

There were many reasons for choosing the site of this year’s dig, but one main point was the legend that the original church of Deer was built at Biffie, the site of this year’s dig.

One hundred local primary school children from Stuartfield, Longside, Fetterangus, Maud and Kinninmonth took part in this year’s dig on Thursday, September 25, and made a very valuable contribution to The Book of Deer Project’s search for the monastery.

Derek Jennings of The Book of Deer Project said: “We would like to thank Mr Stevens of Crichie Home Farm, Geordie Burnet Stuart, Mr Mowatt of Biffie, Mr and Mrs Bellamy of Cheverton, Ali and Sue – Rose Geophysics, Ali Cameron of Cameron Archaeology, Stuartfield, Longside, Kinninminth, Fetterangus and Maud Primary pupils and staff who helped with the dig.

“Thanks also to Joyce Brown, Andrew Kellock, George Strachan, Paul Baxter, Alan and Elizabeth Cameron, Helen MacDonald and her Husband, Graeme Buchan and the owner of the field North of the Graveyard, Jan Dunbar and everyone else who gave us their time.”