Scottish Archaeology Month 2023

Archaeology Scotland’s flagship festival, Scottish Archaeology Month (SAM), is taking place throughout September. More details can be found at, but here are some highlights of what’s on offer.

For the last 25 years, Scottish Archaeology Month has grown and expanded to become the highlight of Archaeology Scotland’s calendar, showcasing the best of Scotland’s archaeology, history, and heritage in a programme of events for all ages. This year’s theme is ‘Living Heritage’, which allows SAM to incorporate events from those involved in the performing arts and other creative fields such as traditional crafts, as well as other areas including urban archaeology, and heritage surrounding cultural diversity in Scotland. Spanning the Outer Hebrides to the Borders and Dumfries & Galloway, the programme for 2023 includes excavations, guided walks, talks, exhibitions, performances, re-enactments, conferences and much more, both in person and online.

Brodie Castle excavation 

21-26 September, 10am-4pm, Brodie Castle, Brodie, Moray

The first castle at Brodie was built c.1566. Its remains can still be seen today as the south-west tower of the current castle, but it would originally have stood within an enclosure, surrounded by smaller buildings where the daily work of the estate would have taken place. What traces of this early activity survive below the ground? In order to understand more about what Brodie Castle estate looked like 500 years ago and how people lived and worked, the National Trust for Scotland will be exploring the earlier medieval landscape through archaeological excavations. The dig is open to all (though children must be accompanied by an adult), and is accessible via gravel paths and lawn grass. No experience is necessary, and all equipment will be provided. Come along to dig for the day, for the week, or just drop in for a chat about what has been found.

The Ancient Art of Stained Glass 

14 September, 2pm-4pm, All Saints Episcopal Church, Challoch, Newton Stewart, Dumfries and Galloway

The use of stained glass in churches stems from the medieval period, as a way of telling Bible stories in vivid colours. This presentation by Susan Bradbury will give visitors an insight into the craft behind creating these images, focusing on the ten windows at All Saints Episcopal Church, which were produced by two eminent stained-glass artists, Charles Eamer Kempe and Charles Alexander Gibbs. For more information on how to book, please email or call 07854 362318. 

Time Detectives 

10 September, 11am-3pm, Ben Nevis Visitor Centre, Fort William, Lochaber, Inverness-shire

Come and explore the history of Lochaber through a host of hands-on activities. These are partly self-led, and include a mock archaeological dig, a time-travel treasure trail, Iron Age coiled pot making, rush light candles, Viking rune pendants, fire-lighting, oatcake- and butter-making, and much more. Families that complete all of the activities will earn a special Time Detectives certificate and be entered in a prize draw. Please wear outdoor clothes and shoes and bring a snack and drink. To book, visit

Law & Order: managing Kilwinning, Heritage’s treasure trove of 18th- and 19th-century legal documents 

14 September, 7pm-8pm, Congregational Church Hall, Woodwynd, Kilwinning, North Ayrshire

Jeni Park will talk about an ambitious three-year archive project to sort and preserve an extensive collection of documents and letters from a former solicitors’ office. Ongoing work by volunteers is uncovering fascinating stories about the people and businesses in a small industrial 19th-century town. For more information and details of how to book, please visit 

St Ethelreda’s Chapel excavation

16 September, 11am-3.30pm, Pennine Way Car Park, Kirk Yetholm, Kelso, Scottish Borders

St Ethelreda’s Chapel is known to have been founded in the medieval period, but it appears on different versions of maps in different places. This excavation, which runs from 6 to 18 September, aims to uncover the building’s remains and pin down
its location once and for all; the project’s public open day will be held on Saturday 16 September and everyone is welcome.

Guided walk around Loch Hornaraidh 

14 September, 11am-1pm, Grimsay Community Hub & Café, Grimsay, North Uist, Outer Hebrides

Grimsay Community Association and Uist Community Archaeology Group present this guided walk around Loch Hornaraidh, visiting the Grimsay Wheelhouse and Dun Ban. The tour will also include Shieling sites and a coastal Kelping area, and will take in the natural history and wild flowers along the way. The area still preserves many of the features of its ancient agricultural heritage for visitors
to enjoy. Please note that this event will involve rough walking
over boggy moorland; waterproof footwear and walking sticks
are recommended, and dogs are unfortunately not permitted.
To book, email or call 07789 306223. 

Scotland’s Community Heritage Conversations

20 September, In person at The Engine Shed, Stirling; online via Microsoft Teams

Scotland’s Community Heritage Conversations began in November 2020 as a digital re-imagining of Scotland’s Community Heritage Conference, necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic; the 2023 incarnation is the first full hybrid version, and aims to bring together volunteers, community groups, and heritage professionals, both in person and online. This year’s conversation focuses on ‘exploring potential’, and aims to harness the power of the historic environment to tackle issues such as the aftereffects of the pandemic, the cost-of-living crisis, and the threat of climate change, as well as celebrating grassroots community heritage.

The programme will include a mixture of talks followed by Q&A, a panel discussion, and the popular One Minute Mayhem – a 60-second ‘open mic’ where attendees can share news from their own organisations and heritage projects – along with interactive workshops and networking opportunities. Speakers will represent community-led approaches to resilience, adaptation, collaboration, and sustainability as we move forward into recovery and renewal.

This event will be free to attend in-person or digitally, but attendance must be booked in advance; in-person capacity is limited and will be subject to a waiting list if demand is high. For more information, and to book your place, see

Tessa Till is Scottish Archaeology Month Co-ordinator at Archaeology Scotland;

All images: Courtesy of Archaeology Scotland