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Work on distillery site gives a glimpse into the past

Archaeologists working on the site of the new distillery near Grantown on Spey have uncovered various clues as to what was happening in the area more than a thousand years ago.

The team have been methodically examining the site as the ground works continue, logging any interesting features and removing artefacts for preservation.

The new distillery, being built by family owned whisky specialists Gordon & MacPhail, was granted planning permission last year but construction was delayed due to coronavirus. But work has now started on the site which will become a major tourist attraction for the Grantown on Spey area.

And some of the archaeological artefacts may find a home in the new visitor centre planned for the distillery.

As Ewen Mackintosh explained: “In delivering this project, part of our commitment to the Cairngorm National Park Authority was to thoroughly examine the site during construction and find out more about what was happening in this part of the world over the centuries.

“We’ve found some interesting things and clues to help us understand how people would have been living. The findings are all being logged, and any interesting items removed for safekeeping.

“Some of the findings may go into the company archive and we hope others might be of interest to the local museum or possibly the local schools.”

“Cathy Maclver, Project Manager for AOC Archaeology Group, who has been leading the work, said: “The area to the north has proved to be the most interesting with over 120 archaeological features logged.

“Stone surfaces have been uncovered which would have been used as working platforms and the pattern of postholes suggests there were roundhouses related to prehistoric settlement in the area. There is evidence of grain processing on the site and some of the waste pits found contained slag which suggests metalworking also took place here – probably the day to day making and repairing of tools.”

The archaeological work on the site is now complete ready for construction to start in earnest. Offices and equipment have started to arrive on to site to prepare for work to start on foundations of the building itself.

The eye-catching modern design of the distillery includes tasting rooms, a visitor centre with retail space and a coffee shop.

The building has been designed to take full advantage of the outstanding views across the River Spey to the Cairngorms.

Owned by the Urquhart family, Gordon & MacPhail has built an unrivalled knowledge and expertise in Scotch Whisky over 125 years and owns Benromach Distillery near Forres. The new distillery forms an important part of the company’s ambitious plans for growth.