At a packed meeting (pictured) in the Eastgate Theatre, Peebles, the Arthur Association announced the results of the 2003 archaeological excavations in Manor Valley.
The site covers 32 acres in Glenrath where outlines of ancient houses, yards and fields remain clearly visible. It is one of the most extensive settlements of its kind in Scotland and has survived because after it was abandoned, the land was never ploughed.
On the basis of archaeological evidence to date, it was generally believed that during the Roman period, ancient hill fort settlements were gradually abandoned and people moved down to live and farm in the valleys.
A previous excavation in 1941 dated a cluster of roundhouses in Glenrath to around the Roman Iron Age (100-200 AD).
Last summer the whole site was surveyed and a roundhouse (pictured) chosen for excavation because it may have been later than the Roman period. It was about nine metres in diameter with a cooking hearth near the centre. However, radio carbon dating of finds and soil samples has subsequently stood accepted archaeological dating for this Borders site type on its head – it turns out that the house was built in around 1500BC – during the Bronze Age.
A second building was also excavated. This was unusual in that it was rectangular rather than circular, and it proved an enigma. It appears to have been built around the 11th/12th century AD and augmented over the following centuries. Underneath this mediaeval building were traces of earlier activity stretching back to the pre-Roman period around 700-400 BC.
The excavation was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Scottish Borders Council. It was undertaken in collaboration with Peebles Archaeological Society and involved more than 30 volunteers on the survey and 62 on the dig.
Over 300 local schoolchildren took part in an associated programme.