Issue 144

Newsletter – Issue 144, August 2003


Nothing now until we start again on 15th October with Ian Suddaby on Ballyproir Beg, an Unenclosed Platform Settlement in Ireland. The Committee is working on the 2004 lecture programme and would welcome any suggestions from members on topics or lecturers.

Outing to Chesters, Drem and Gullane on Saturday, 6th September

There will be an outing to an Iron Age fort, a castle and a Medieval church. It will start at 2.00pm at the designated parking space on the farm track leading to Chesters fort. The track runs off a minor road between the B1377, B1343 and A1 – the map reference of the fort is NT507782. This fort is one of the most impressive in southern Scotland with multiple ramparts and ditches and a large number of round houses (see Feachem’s Guide to Prehistoric Scotland for more details).
From there we shall drive to Gullane to visit the remains of the Medieval church that lies to the north of the west end of the main road through the town. This small building gives a clear idea of the design of the smaller churches of this period. Then we will go to Saltcoats castle (NT486819), which is about 400m south of the west end of the main street. Originally this was an impressive courtyard building surrounded by a number of ranges (Mike Salter’s Discovering Scottish Castles has brief details).

Cramond Campus (formerly Dunfermline College of Physical Education)

Demolition of the remaining buildings and clearance of the resultant rubble is well under way. A number of trees have also had to be felled and the timber moved nearer to the main entrance. It’s a sad sight.
AOC Archaeology Group has been given the contract to undertake excavation of a large area of the site and preliminary work has already started. The Society has been asked to assist with the artifact cleaning and a portacabin will be provided at the Campus entrance for this purpose.
As heavy machinery is constantly moving around the grounds, Health and Safety provisions do not allow for volunteer participation on the site itself. There will, however, be an Open Day for visitors to the site, probably with an interpretative display in the portacabin. This will be around the end of August or early September.
So, we are looking for volunteers to assist with the cleaning and bagging of the finds over the next few weeks. Although no digging will be involved, you will be working with earth-covered bits of sharp pottery, broken glass and rusty iron – so do make sure your tetanus shots are up-to-date. We already have a few names resulting from the appeal in the last Newsletter, but would be glad of more offers. Would you like to help?

Resistance Survey at Eddleston

We will be doing a ground resistance survey over a circular ‘enclosure’ cropmark at Cloich, NE of Eddleston on Saturday, 2nd August (which means, weather permitting, it will be completed before this Newsletter is out). A further investigation of a site near Leadburn will follow later in the year.

Excavation on the Antonine Wall

An invitation has been received from Geoff Bailey, the Falkirk Council Keeper of Archaeology, to join in a dig in an annexe on the west side of Mumrills Roman fort. The excavation will run for three weeks with a possible extension, and is within the old Dunn and Wilson bindery in Grahamsdyke Street, Lauriston. The Roman wall appears to run under the floor of the old factory building. The roof is still on so rain is no problem. Work starts at 9.30 each day, seven days a week.

Cobble Cottage field, Dalmeny Estate

We are informed by the Factor that the winter wheat currently in the field will not be harvested until mid-September and the ploughing will commence on 1st October – so our trench digging will be short and sharp. This news has only just arrived and has been e-mailed to Clive Bonsall, the Reader in Archaeology at Edinburgh University, with whom we are digging. Clive is currently digging in Romania so no reaction has yet been received. The dig looks likely to take place on weekdays on the final fortnight of September.

Cramond Resistivity

The report on the survey in the north walled garden and the area beside the church hall has been well received by Historic Scotland – ‘a fascinating report’ and ‘many congratulations to you and your colleagues in EAFS on a useful piece of work and a well-presented report’. Take a bow all those who participated.
As mentioned in the last Newsletter we have Historic Scotland permission to survey in the Scheduled Area eastwards from Cramond House and Tower.
Nic Holmes comments on the ditch running east from the Tower ‘the ditch provided the first indication that the extra mural occupation areas to the east of the fort were enclosed with defensive boundaries – the possibility must exist that the defended enclosure extended right along the east side of the fort’.
The military nature of the finds in the southern walled garden, he suggests, would mean that this lay within the defensive boundary. If this is so, the ditch running east from the Tower would be at least 100m long and if it then turned south to enclose the walled gardens, this section would be at least 300m. It will be an interesting challenge to try to find and follow it – possibly in September as part of Archaeology Open Days.

Castlehill, Penicuik

The two resistivity linear array measurements, each of 38m length, went ahead as planned on 25th May with EAFS providing support and the topographical measurements along the sections. The two profile printouts show firstly the ‘castlehill’ and, in the second, the significant banks on either side of the ditch. These measurements confirmed the high resistances recorded in the area survey, but, by recording to a depth of 4m, they showed that the ‘highs’ were underlain by lower resistance material confirming that they were not bedrock (but not ruling out the possibility of glacial gravels lying on better conducting clay).
A 15 by 3m trench has been excavated alongside the first array measurement to intersect the SW side of the circular ‘castle’ shown on the Ainslie plan, and to extend some 5m outside it.
Immediately below a shallow topsoil (and vegetation that was the home of thousands of hungry midges) we were rapidly into a sandy-gravel soil much of which looked natural and undisturbed. To the SW end there was a lot of stones – natural or man-placed we do not know yet.
A 1m sonde at the NE end looked very natural and sandy but may have sectioned a post hole (early mottes were generally timber built).
The only work outside this trench has been some cleaning up of what appears to be stone revetting on the slope of the hill overlooking Corton – not very regular but definitely man-laid.
There is a lot more work to do here and we also need to open up a second trench across the banks and ditch. Regrettably however digging will not recommence until February 2004. A pheasant pen is beside the hill and we cannot get back until the shooting season is over.