After a few hiccups locating the excavation site, the party of 24 made their way up through a wood to a plateau where the small Cairnmore Pictish Fort was being excavated. An excellent talk was given by Professor Gordon Noble, the archaeologist in charge from Aberdeen University. He explained how the location, although previously mapped, had been pinpointed by laser scanning in 2011 and how, following considerable gorse clearance, and with financial help from the neighboring wind farm, this and previous digs had been made possible. The site is quite small (0.2 hectare compared with 16 hectare at Tap o’ Noth) but the principal sign of occupancy was an impressively large hearth.
After a stop at Rhynie village which allowed a sight of the three Pictish stones near the cemetery, the party went on to Leith Hall, where, splitting into two consecutive groups, they were given an excellent guided hour long tour by Sarah Ramsay, the National Trust head gardener. Many members were astounded by the scale of the various constituent parts of the garden, the steepness of its slopes, and the restoration project currently way to restore the large rockery garden. In the other available hour there was an option of following the tree trail around the grounds, or taking a guided tour of the house. At four o’clock everyone gathered for high tea in the café which was a much enjoyed social occasion , with the coach departure eventually getting under way at around 5.30.