Issue 145

Newsletter – Issue 145, September 2003

Cramond Campus

A big THANK YOU to everyone who helped with the finds processing at the Cramond Campus. AOC Archaeology, who undertook a major excavation there in advance of a housing development, was most grateful to EAFS for taking on the task of pottery washing and bagging. We had our own portacabin to work in – luxury! Due to members’ support, we had teams of four working two days a week for five weeks, and another five people manned the display which was put on for the Open Day.
The excavation itself came up with some surprising results – but then we always did suspect that Cramond’s Roman occupation was something special. Three parallel defensive ditches were discovered some 300 metres to the east of the fort, and on a similar alignment to its east side. Sections of the road from the fort’s east gate were exposed and, where this passed through the ditches, there was found the footprint of a double gateway. Judging by the dressed stone blocks recovered from the ditches, this had been stone-built. The archaeologists’ interpretation of the excavation is eagerly awaited!
Members appreciated the opportunity to handle and learn about Roman pottery, and also felt privileged to watch the progress of the excavation. The last of the Campus buildings – the cottages opposite the portacabin – are now yet another pile of rubble.

Cobble Cottage field, Dalmeny Estate

Due to Dr Catriona Pickard (who was to be the supervisor of the dig) being unwell in September coupled with the very short time that the field would be available to us, the decision was taken to postpone the Mesolithic dig until 2004. Spring barley will be sown in the field and this is apparently harvested earlier in the year than the winter wheat, which has been the crop for the past two years. The time that the field will be available to us in 2004 should therefore be rather longer than the two weeks that was on offer this year.

Resistance Survey at Eddleston

The survey, reported as about to take place when the last Newsletter was published, duly took place on 2nd August with Peeblesshire Archaeological Society members assisting in the layout of 20 by 20 metre squares and in the resistance measurements. Four squares were measured, 1600 readings in all, over the cropmark. The printout was not the clearest ever produced probably due to shallow topsoil with bedrock no more than 0.5m below the surface; this was particularly noticeable on one corner square that dropped away down the slope. The circular cropmark that showed up in the aerial photograph is just about visible in the printout. Excavation by the Peeblesshire Archaeological Society is scheduled to start before the end of the year and we have been invited to join them.

Dig at Mumrills Fort Annex

A number of EAFS members assisted Geoff Bailey of the Falkirk Museums Service on a dig on the Antonine Wall and west defences of the annex of Mumrills Roman Fort from the end of July to mid-September. The dig was located in and around a former shoe factory, later Dunn & Wilson’s Bindery in Laurieston. The weather was very good, if sometimes a bit too hot.
The dig established the location of the Antonine wall base, with a stone covered culvert, the berm with lilia, the line of the Military Way with drainage ditch to the south, the annex rampart, clay footings and stone slabbed floors of two timber buildings (a cook house and a well covering structure), two ovens and two annex ditches (one of which was almost 3 metres in depth). Also found was a gateway and intervallum road with a well dug through it. A trench dug in the 1950’s by K A Steer was also relocated.
Finds included one coin, an iron knife blade, a chisel, fragments of brooches, several pieces of quern stone and many nails and remains of shoe leather. Pottery finds consisted of extremely fine decorated Samian ware, stamped mortaria, amphorae, BB and greyware and one piece of possible Iron Age pot rim.

Cramond Resistivity

The possibility of starting the survey to the east of Cramond House as part of the Archaeology Open Days did not come to pass as we were still hoping that the Dalmeny dig would be taking place at that time.
A walk over the field was made on 25th September to plot the line of Nic Holmes ‘defensive boundary’ – assuming that the ditch beside Cramond Tower did extend eastwards on a line parallel to the north wall of the fort. This line cuts across the flat area and also crosses the avenue of trees that extends from the house eastwards.
The big Roman ditch found by AOC on the college campus site could extend northwards to intersect this eastward running ditch but compass bearings suggest that the intersection would not be at right angles but at 102°. Compass bearings are not all that accurate but 12°is much more than a normal error of measurement so do the ditches relate to two different phases of the fort/camp? The chances of tracing either of the ditches around their crossing point is not great as the area has been much dug up for sewers – there are at least thirteen manhole covers in the area.
A start will be made from the western end, adjacent to the fence that abuts the Tower grounds, and we will proceed eastwards to see whether anything turns up that can be followed to confirm the alignment.