Megget Reservoir project

Megget Reservoir

Excavation at pottery location

Megget Reservoir lies just outside the Peeblesshire boundary. However, the Tweed survey was continued over the Talla watershed because unusually low water levels in the dry summer of 2003 provided an opportunity to inspect parts of the reservoir floor not normally accessible.

Megget is typical of the Southern Uplands reservoirs where the landscape is rich in archaeological sites. Two tower houses at the former settlement of Cramalt now lie deep below the water. The usual range of prehistoric sites was found such as burnt mounds, cairns groups and ring enclosures (Ward, 2004a; Ward 2004b; Ward 2005).

Water levels within the reservoirs routinely fall during the Summer, by some 5 to 10m in the case of Megget, and recover during the late Autumn and early winter.

Graph showing water levels for Megget Reservoir

As a result, considerable areas of the reservoir floor are exposed to the possibility of erosion by wave action. The extent and location of the damage depends on wind direction and strength but can be severe, involving the cutting away of the original ground surface and the formation of beach ridges (see picture of Site 16).

Stones form a semi circle that is an arc 4m in diameter.

Stones form a semi circle, arcing 4m in diameter.

Some sites, lying in protected areas, may lose only surface soil and vegetation: others can be completely destroyed. As a result, any archaeological site at a depth of up to 10-12m below the high water mark is at risk and its excavation is justified.

In Megget, a number of features that lay in areas where there was clear evidence of active erosion were excavated.

Site before excavating

Before excavating Site 16 Looking North East

The interior of a small ring enclosure produced abundant charcoal from surface spreads. There were no finds, however, and the function of the site is unclear. At a second location, a single sherd of Late Neolithic Impressed Ware was found partly exposed in the bank of the reservoir. Excavation nearby of a surviving patch of the original ground surface yielded further but less diagnostic pottery, perhaps indicating the site of a Late Neolithic settlement.

Site looking north east during excavation

During excavation looking North East.

Megget Reports