Volunteers have been helping to uncover the forgotten past of a Deeside landmark.
A month-long archaeological dig is underway at Crathes Castle, near Banchory, and already the team has uncovered traces of a 17th century courtyard and old buildings under the lawn.
Pottery and bits of glass have also been found, as well as a bottle seal stamped with the crest of the Burnett of Leys family, who built the castle and still own much of the estate.
The excavations are being led by two full-time archaeologists with the aid of members of the public, primary schools and youth organisations, and the project has garnered attention from as far as Edinburgh.
Property manager Gareth Clingan said: “There has been quite a lot of interest. We’ve had the Kintore Cubs as well as nine schools. It’s great to get so much community involvement.
“It’s not that often that you can get involved in a dig so it’s great that people are taking the opportunity.”
Mr Clingan said the purpose of the dig was twofold – first to check that erecting marquees on the lawn for events was not causing any damage, and more interestingly, to see what was beneath.
The team already suspected there was a 17th century courtyard under the grass, and the discovery of a cobbled surface indicates they were correct.
Mr Clingan added: “We’ve also found a bit of a corner of a building, so will be extending the trench to see what’s there.
“There has also been some 18th century glass, probably from a claret bottles. There was also a glass seal featuring the Burnett family crest which was a great find. It shows how prestigious they were to be able to afford to stamp their crest on the bottles.
“It has all been really interesting so far.”
The dig will run until October 25, and anyone aged 10 and over can take part. Under-16s must be accompanied by an adult.
Visitors will also be treated to daily 10-minute talks on the latest discoveries at 11am and 2pm. Taking part is free, but booking is essential as places are limited to about 20 a day. Call 0844 493 2166 to reserve a place.
On Thursday, a 30-minute talk on the Crathes estate’s prehistoric past will be held at 11.30am in the castle cafe.