Issue 138

Newsletter – Issue 138, June 2002

Cramond Excavations (from Val Dean)

The end is in sight – of the fieldwork at least! The backfilling is almost complete, thanks to the many willing labourers. However, there is still a lot of work to do – the finds in particular will need to be assessed and reported on, which is likely to require the services of various specialists. A data structure report will be prepared in the interim, with a final report to follow. Several sessions have been held at Broughton Market to catalogue and box the finds, and more will be arranged in the near future. Finishing at Cramond is going to be quite a wrench, since the Society has been excavating in the area since 1975 – assisting at the Roman Bathhouse and associated excavations run by the City Archaeologist, working at Cramond Tower and Cramond House, investigating the Roman road in the woods to the east of the Fort, and checking in trenches dug for house foundations and services, etc. But, as building developments never stop here – and the Campus development has yet to start – who knows what the future may hold!

Planned Outings

1) Trimontium, 8th June 2002 (from Bill MacLennan)
The members of the Trimontium Trust have arranged to take us on a tour round the historic environs of Melrose including the site of the Roman Fort and its recently discovered Amphitheatre.
The Trust has been running tours for many years and I can assure you that these are extremely enjoyable and interesting – made even better by the cup of tea and a bite to eat at the end of it. You will be starting at the Trust Museum so that you can visit this before or after the tour. I can highly recommend it.
The time and date are 1400 hours on Saturday, 8th June 2002, and we shall be meeting outside the Trimontium Trust Museum on Melrose Main Street.
2) SGIFA Geophysical Day, 14th June 2002 (from Dave Jones)
We have been invited by Tim Neighbour of C.F.A. Archaeology (but who in this case is acting for the Scottish Group, Institute of Field Archaeologists) to participate in a day of geophysical talks and discussions. The venue and the cost (if any) are not yet known.
For any member wanting a rapid introduction to the subject, with indications of when particular techniques will or will not prove useful, this could be a very useful day.
Both Tim and Bruce Hobbs, who have helped us at Lauriston and East Bonhard, figure among the speakers.
3) Torwood Castle and Torwood Broch, 13th July 2002 (from Bill MacLennan)
Geoff Bailey has agreed to meet us at Torwood to show us round the castle and to take us up to the nearby broch. We shall also have the chance of standing on the remains of the Roman road that runs past the castle.
Torwood castle is a 15th century tower house and is of particular interest because Geoff and the local archaeological society recently excavated the site. The broch looks nondescript from the outside but, viewed from the inside, there is skilfully executed stonework, an entrance with characteristic door fittings and intramural stairs and chambers.
The outing will be at 1400 hours on Saturday, 13th July 2002. We shall be meeting at the castle. To get there travel to Falkirk and leave it on the A9 heading north. Passing to the east of the site of the Roman Fort and to the west of Larbert you should go straight over the roundabout at North Broomage. About 2 km past the roundabout (having gone over the M876) you should turn left onto an undesignated road, turning left again after 1 km onto a poorly metalled track at the end of which should be the castle. There should be room for parking but please make sure not to block any of the drives to the recently built houses nearby.
3) Geoff Bailey needs you! (from Bill MacLennan)
Geoff Bailey will be starting a 2 week excavation of the Annexe to the Roman Fort near Falkirk on Saturday, 3rd August 2002. Given the amount of work involved he is in need of all the volunteers he can get. I do not have full details yet but if you are interested I should be happy to hear from you.

Recent Outings

1) The United Services Museum at Edinburgh Castle, Thursday, 14th February 2002 (from Bill MacLennan)
The Military Museum at Edinburgh Castle has recently been redesigned and renovated, and redesignated as the United Services Museum. Members of our Society were particularly privileged to have a close look at the museum and to have a presentation from Mr Allan, the deputy director. The museum is not a dry collection of regimental silver and old uniforms. It covers a number of themes from the formation of Scottish regiments in the 17th century onwards, and gives a real feeling of the discomforts, dangers, satisfactions and comradeship engendered in soldiers of these far off days. I particularly liked the early photographs that presented soldiers as ordinary soldiers rather than some of the paintings of officers in more heroic studio poses. It is certain that many of us will be back to see what we missed last time.

2) Linlithgow Palace Open Day, Saturday, 23rd February 2002 (from Bill MacLennan)
Some of us attended an open day on an excavation on a site to the west of Linlithgow Palace sponsored by Historic Scotland. The weather was so awful that the presentation had to take place indoors in a room to the west of the palace entrance. It sounds dismissive to say that the most exciting thing that the excavators had struck was a midden. As usual however the midden contained a wealth of material. Apart from the usual domestic animal bones there was a wide range of Late Medieval pottery with Green Glaze Ware well to the fore. The children and those of us who have never grown up had great fun looking down a microscope at cereal grains and trying to identify them.
3) Visit to Craigie Hill Fort, Saturday, 6th April 2002 (from Ian Hawkins)
Seven Society Members visited the prehistoric settlement at Craigie Hill on the road between Cramond Brig and Kirkliston. The site is not all that spectacularly situated, being adjacent to a large disused quarry which appears to be popular with local motorcyclists. There is an interesting revetted wall built of large stone blocks to the right as you enter the quarry and the Fort was reached after a short walk and a not too steep climb up through trees.
The fort is located on a steep-sided wooded ridge overlooking the flood plain of the Gogar Burn and the River Almond and is the only high ground in the immediate area although most of the Northern part of the ridge has been quarried away. The fort has good natural defences on three sides and there is a sequence of three stone-walled ramparts to protect the West side. The Northern area of the Fort consists of an oval enclosure known as The Citadel surrounded by a low stone-walled rampart, which overlies the earlier walls, with one possible entrance to the North West. Any evidence of an approach to this entrance has been lost due to quarrying. The citadel is thought to be of Dark Age date and is almost identical to Dalmahoy Hill.
The remainder of the interior of the fort lies over a low knoll where the foundations of several platforms and hut circles were visible. Probably due to the proximity to the surface of the bedrock there is very little sign of animal burrowing activity and the remains are very well preserved. The walls and some of the hut circles were excavated by J Y Simpson in 1868. The level area extends to the Southwest where the remains of a (much) later stone wall remain. Past this it slopes away to the South West to the road, where a stone-lined cist was found at the roadside in 1827. The underside of the cover stone was sculptured with a cup and four rings, and sets of concentric circles. This stone was removed to near Barnbogle Castle but has been missing since 1970, possibly built into the sea wall after the great gale of 1969. The other cist stones were moved to Craigiehall Temple and they too have disappeared. This find extends the history of the Fort and its environs back to the Bronze Age as other cists have been found near the Catstane which is visible from the fort.

Mainshill, East Lothian (from Dave Jones)

The too rapid growth of the crop at Overhailes caused the cancellation of our previously planned resistivity survey in East Lothian but a setaside site nearer Haddington is on offer for a survey on 25-26 May – I hope the Newsletter gets out rapidly.
The field at NT5659 7325 is just north of a minor road junction that itself is north of Mainshill Farm.
Durham University have made a magnetometry survey over a curvilinear cropmark and the intention is to see whether a ground resistance survey will add further information to that survey.

East Bonhard (from Dave Jones)

Since we were requested by RCAHMS to look at a field at East Bonhard on which an aerial photograph showed what might have been a souterrain we have conducted area resistivity surveys, magnetometry surveys and resistivity linear array surveys, and fieldwalked in all manner of weather. The result has been no confirmation of a souterrain or indeed of anything that could be said confidently to be Iron Age.
Thanks to the cooperation of the Geology and Geophysics Dept of Edinburgh University we do have two areas (one quite close to the aerial photograph ‘souterrain’ mark) that show magnetic anomaly superimposed on resistive anomaly, and it is in these two areas that we have permission to dig exploratory trenches to see what, if anything, is there.
The field is currently ‘setaside’ and the weekend 22-23 June has been agreed as suitable, starting at 10.00am. The site is NT018 794 beside a bend in a small road linking Carriden to Linlithgow; parking on the corner of the field is possible.

New Resistivity Equipment (from Dave Jones)

The new equipment has arrived; it differs from the old equipment in that instead of manually recording readings a push of a button puts the reading into a data log which is capable of holding 15,000 readings – in excess of 35 20 by 20 metre squares.
Two discs contain the software programme that can be played into a PC running 95,98 or ME. The data is downloaded to a working RS232 serial port via a 9 pin ‘D’ connector.
On order to print out the data it is saved on a bitmap and printed using Adobe Elements or similar programme.
Assistance from anybody whose computer literacy is higher than mine and who is prepared to be involved in processing data will be welcomed.