Issue 151

Newsletter – Issue 151, January 2005

Congratulations to Patrick Cave-Browne who was awarded the Dorothy Marshall Medal, a triennial award for voluntary work in archaeology.

Visit to Roxburgh Castle

EAFS will be visiting Roxburgh Castle starting at 2.00pm on Saturday, 19th February.

Shorewatch

The next Shorewatch survey will take place on Tuesday, 1st March starting at 10.30am.

Lectures

2005 got off to a good start with Andrea Smith on ‘Bone and Antler Working in Prehistory’ – next is Ian Ralston on ‘Hillforts in Scotland and beyond’ on Wednesday, 16th February.

Excavation at Penicuik

By the time this Newsletter is out we could be back at Penicuik. Weather conditions, hours of daylight, and not least the condition of the track we have to drive taking equipment to the foot of Castlehill, will govern precisely when we restart.
Before the undergrowth grows to any size we should ground resistance survey some of the NE slope of Castlehill to see whether there is any sign of an approach track on that side. Excavation will continue adjacent to the trench; we will probably extend the trench sideways to explore further the stone circle that seems to align with that on the Ainslie plan. As is so often dictated by Murphy’s Law we will have to move a section of last year’s spoil heap. Finally we must cut a section through the bank-ditch-bank at the SW end of the site, which does appear to have included an entrance to the flat hilltop area.

Geophysics at Cramond

In the three months since the last Newsletter the surveys have been completed and the report written and dispatched, by the end of 2004, to Historic Scotland.
The linear resistive array measurements, promised by Dr Bruce Hobbs, duly took place as a student project conducted by Greg Macdonald. Two magnetometry surveys were also made by Greg and the three techniques used helped to clarify what lies under the 9200 sq metres of parkland to the east of Cramond House.
The initial interpretation by Mike Middleton of Headland Archaeology of area resistance features on our printout suggested that those in line with the tree avenue probably related to a formal garden associated with the first (1680) Cramond House while those that crossed at an angle of about 40° were at right angles to the Roman road and represented part of the NE vicus. The two magnetometry surveys produced anomaly lines that largely aligned with those found in the area resistance survey.
Three linear array measurements, to a depth of about four metres, across a low resistance line that appeared on the area printout running along the edge of the old raised beach level, showed a cross section of a ditch. This cross section looks very similar to a measurement made two years ago to the west of the church where we knew that we had crossed the inner ditch of the fort. Was the vicus protected on its north side by a ditch on the edge of the raised beach? Only time (and permission from Historic Scotland to dig a trench or two in the Scheduled Monument Area) will tell.

The Time Team

It is not often that EAFS can claim a direct involvement with Time Team, but in the current series with two programmes made in Scotland we can.
On 23rd January during a very good excavation of the Roman fort at Drumlanrig (identified by Gordon Maxwell from one of his RCAHMS aerial photographs) Colin Wallace appeared commenting on the pottery. In a programme still to come (20th February) Robin Murdoch digs with Phil Harding in the Wemyss caves, which should be interesting.

Survey in Dalmeny Village

No progress to report since the last Newsletter; we must get on with it as soon as there is some reasonable weather. CFA Archaeology, who excavated at Wester Dalmeny in 2002, has been in contact and an interchange of information looks like being mutually beneficial.

Ground Resistance Measurements at Corstorphine

The last Newsletter reported on the survey done to the south of the church, and since then 2800 sq m have been surveyed in St Margaret’s Park.
The Dower House, or Gibson Lodge, though now much altered, is probably one of the houses provided by Sir John Forrester for a chaplain who was to be minister at the collegiate church. The charter for the chaplain’s house was confirmed by James I in about 1429 and the first building must be of similar date. After the reformation the house had a number of owners. In particular in 1765, an Edinburgh lawyer named Samuel Mitchelson who made extensive alterations. He also built stables, coach houses, a barn and a gardener’s house.
In carrying out the survey it was hoped that the foundations would show up and give some clue to surrounding buildings. Tarmac paths, a driveway, a car park and dense shrubbery limit the area available for survey and at least three buildings shown on the 1895 O.S. map now lie underneath Orchardfield Avenue.
We do have some high and low resistance anomalies, which in part line up with buildings on the 1895 O.S. but we were warned by a passer-by that ‘a public shelter and an air raid shelter were there’.
Report writing is in progress but firm conclusions do not seem possible.

Proposed Ground Resistance Surveys for 2005

We currently have four areas, which we hope to survey this year.
1. We have an arrangement with the Peeblesshire Archaeological Society to conduct a survey with them over the site of Hopeton Tower, which lies just under 1km SE of Eddleston.
2. The field on the east side of Cramond Road North that lies beside Lauriston Castle grounds is called on a 19th century map ‘Farl o’ Cakes’. Farl in Scots dialect is a cake divided into four. A plan produced by W. Ramsay of Barnton in 1793 (RHP 5547) shows a ‘new’ road running west from beside a lodge to King’s Cramond. In ‘The Parish of Cramond’, published in 1794 by J.P.Wood, is recorded ‘within my remembrance, there was to be seen a large sepulchre formed of flat stones, on the east side of the road leading from Lauriston to Nether Cramond, in the line of the military way, a little below the east entry to King’s Cramond, but this monument is now completely destroyed.’ Adjacent to the road there is slight plateau in the field, which Fraser Hunter suggests is a possible site for the Roman fort cemetery
3. The resistance survey to the east of Cramond House appears to show a ditch running along the edge of the raised beach. The Bauchop plan of 1815 links this ditch with a curving section beside Cramond Tower (N. Holmes Roman Ditch Site VII). A ground resistance survey from the tower pond to the fence to the east should clarify the line of the ditch.
4. In 2002 Historic Scotland gave permission to the Society to perform geophysical surveys over four sites within the Scheduled Monument Area at Cramond; three of these have been completed. The final site lies to the north of the driveway into the Church Hall and Cramond Tower and is adjacent to Glebe Road. The site extends about 80m east from the entrance off the road and some 60m to the north. The area covered includes the north side of the Roman fort. Some considerable undergrowth clearance would be required.