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Mysterious hole in Broughty Green to be investigated

2 February 2009

Historic Scotland is due to begin an excavation at Broughty Castle Green in Broughty Ferry this week.

The agency has commissioned archaeological excavations to investigate the cause of a hole which has opened up on the castle green.

A geophysical survey took place late last year to investigate the cause of the hole which is roughly a foot long. It is thought that there may be the remains of several buildings underneath the green.

Archaeologists will now determine why the hole has opened up at this location by stripping the turf off an area approximately 5x5m.

There is 3 primer pits underneath the surface. Primer pits were used for the arming of navel mines. The area of subsidence has occurred directly over one of these pits and the pit itself is likely to be over a metre in depth.

A popular place with walkers, the green to the north of the castle was the former site of a number of military buildings.

In the 1880s, the Tay Division Submarine Miners Royal Engineers set up at Broughty to carry out the deployment of mines in the Tay. The castle green was also the site of the castle battery. The construction of the castle battery began in 1903, the battery was mobilised in 1915 and remained there until the end of the war. By 1956 all guns and equipment had been removed from Broughty Castle.

Dr Kirsty Owen, Historic Scotland cultural resources advisor for central Scotland, said: “This excavation is a great opportunity for us to learn more about the later military history of Broughty Castle. The castle encapsulates 500 years of defence of the Tay.

“The geophysical survey has identified that there may be the remains of several buildings under the green including primer pits. These pits comprise of small brick built structures – intended to funnel blasts in the event of an accidental explosion.

“This excavation will hopefully help us understand why this hole has opened up. We aim to identify the best way to make this beautiful spot near the Tay accessible for visitors whilst respecting these important archaeology remains.”

The excavation work is due to take place on Tuesday 3 February and will last for around one week.

Notes to Editors

  • The excavation is due to start on Tuesday 3 February, weather permitting.

  • Kirkdale Archaeology will be working on the excavation under contract by Historic Scotland.

  • Broughty castle is run a scheduled ancient monument in the care of Scottish ministers. It is staffed by Dundee City Council.

  • In 2003, excavations were undertaken near to the current sunken area of the green in order to investigate another area of sinking ground. No definite cause was found.

  • Historic Scotland has 345 outstanding historic properties throughout the country. These include some of Scotland’s leading tourism attractions and most important heritage sites, including Edinburgh, Stirling and Urquhart Castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace, the Border Abbeys, and Skara Brae. For details visit:  

  • Historic Scotland is delighted to be supporting the 2009 Year of Homecoming with a series of initiatives including family trails, spectacular events and the creation of a Homecoming Pass for heritage attractions in association with other heritage organisations.

For further information

Laura Varney
PR Executive
Marketing and Media
0131 668 8959 or 07769 630 763