Dark Age dig hits gold with lottery grant

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Work to uncover a Peebles valley’s Dark Age history has been given a £80,000 boost thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The King Arthur Trail Association is planning a major archaeological survey and excavation work in the Manor Valley this summer.

The £79,700 grant will help finance the dig, which will use of state-of-the-art technology, and associated ­activities.

Chairman of the association, Robin Crichton, said: “This is a major investment in the area and an extremely exciting initiative in heritage discovery.

“There will be a programme of workshops for on-site archaeological crafts and skills, including surveying and excavation techniques, as well open days for site tours.

“We shall be seeking volunteers from the local community interested in working on the project and a schools programme is being developed at both primary and secondary level, with a dedicated website and on-site activities.”

The project is being run by a steering group of volunteers representing local community interests, including the archaeology society, museums, heritage attractions, tourism interests, schools, youth groups and local government.

A Heritage Lottery Fund spokesperson said: “The project is a first step in what it is hoped will be an incremental programme, to lift the shroud of darkness on a forgotten time and rediscover the age of Arthur.”

The focus of the archaeological activity will be on the fourth to seventh centuries.

Mr Crichton said: “This is a period historians have seriously neglected, yet one of the most dynamic and dramatic times in our history.

“Little is known of the culture, lifestyle and sociopolitical relations of the Welsh-speaking tribes who then inhabited this area.”

He added: “No excavations have taken place here since the 1930s and if the results 
of this summer’s survey and excavations, using state-of-the-art techniques, are positive, we will have the foundations of a new interpretation of Dark Age southern Scotland.

The King Arthur Trail Association was formed to stimulate interest in the archaeology and history of the Dark Ages and develop a trail incorporating relevant sites and exhibitions across southern and central Scotland.

A number of theories link King Arthur to the Scottish Borders.