Issue 152

Newsletter – Issue 152, March 2005

Outings (from Bill MacLennan)
Proposed visit to two old churches

On the north side of the High Street of South Queensferry there is a little jewel of a church that was built in 1461 to support a Carmelite Priory. Excavation revealed the foundations of the Priory buildings but little remains on the surface. Despite the fact that it has gone through a number of restorations much of it is as it was 550 years ago and St Mary’s provides a delightful setting for its current use as the local Episcopalian Church.
Some distance to the west there is Abercorn Church. Most of it dates from the 16th century though there is a blocked entrance with a Norman arch. The most interesting feature on the site is a small museum containing cross slabs and grave markers from as early as the 10th century. There are also hog backed stones designed by the Vikings. Even earlier than this there were the followers of St Ninian who established a community here in the 6th century.
The visit will start at 2.00pm on Friday, 15th April outside the front door of the Episcopalian Church. There is plenty of parking space if you take the next road to the west into a large car park. It would be appreciated if we could all be on time since members of the congregation are opening the church for us.
Once we are finished there, travel west out of South Queensferry and join the A904 at the roundabout over the M90 and head towards Bo’ness for about two miles before turning to the right onto an undesignated road at Woodend. Turn to the left at Parkhead and this should take you to Abercorn.

Lectures

On Tuesday, 19th April we have Geoff Bailey on The Home Front in Falkirk and District, 1939-1945, and then, the last one before the summer break, on Tuesday, 17th May Fraser Hunter is talking on Life on the Roman Frontier – Recent Excavations at Inveresk and Cramond.

Excavation at Castlehill, Penicuik

Two preliminary sessions have taken place on the site at Penicuik; the first entailed taking a lot more EDM readings to record the NE slope of the hill, and the second cleared that slope of tons of dead wood. Clearing the wood out of the way means we can make a final resistance survey, albeit on a very sloping area of ground, to see whether there are any features on this side of the castle.
The second session was also used to remove the blue covers and accumulation of winter rubbish from the trench and the southern paved area.
On Sunday, 3rd April starting at 10.30am we hope to resume excavations and to have enough members present to complete the ground resistance survey.

The Cramond Geophysical Report

It is now three months since the report on the area resistivity survey, linear array measurements and magnetometry survey was submitted. To investigate further we would require permission from the
Cramond and Harthill Trust, who act for the landowners, and from Historic Scotland, as the site is scheduled. We have received no comment on the content of the report so, at the moment, no future action is foreseen.

Ground Resistance Measurements at Dalmeny

Having just written that the survey at Corstorphine is Occasional Paper 11, Dalmeny as Occasional Paper 12 can now be added. The survey started in September 2004 as our ‘public’ participation in Scottish Archaeology month with eight 20 by 20m squares on the NW grass verge nearest to the redeveloped Wester Dalmeny farm steading. It was during this redevelopment that the watching brief of CFA Archaeology Ltd turned up medieval pottery and floors suggesting that more could be found under the grass verges alongside the village street. The high resistances in our squares were irregular in shape and did not look like house foundations – in fact they may not have been man-made at all. The geological map states that the bedrock could be ‘at or near the surface’ so our response could have been due to local geology.
The four squares on the verge to the south of the church showed a high resistance strip, some 80 metres long parallel with the curb, and showing little detail. Not easy to come to any conclusions on that either.
The most encouraging survey was on the W end of the 180 metre stretch on the S side grass verge; the east end 80m only showed a few high resistance blobs. Two rectangular outlines appeared end-on to the road which did not suggest a village street lined with houses facing on to the road but some very low resistance lines close to the pavement could represent the robbed out walls of houses and some have higher resistance infilling that may be cobbled floors.
We are unlikely to return to dig at Dalmeny village but it is, at least, now on record.