Newsletter – Issue 162, March 2007
The April lecture (Wednesday, 18th) is Dr Jill Turnbull on Glassmaking in Edinburgh and the Lothians while on Tuesday, 15th May we have member Ian Paterson on The Demise of Knossos – a stratigraphical problem.
1)Outing to Lamb’s House
Our next outing is to Lamb’s House in Leith. It is at the corner of Shore and Bernard Street, the latter being a continuation of Commercial Street (check your Edinburgh Street map if in doubt). We will meet there at 3.30pm on Wednesday, 25th April.
Lamb’s House is a large, impressive 16th century building whose earliest known owner was a merchant named Andrew Lamb. The most important event linked to the house is that Mary, Queen of Scots, had a wee rest there after her journey from France in 1561. It is not recorded whether Mrs Lamb asked her whether she had had her tea.
It was reconstructed in the 17th century and is very attractive with steeply pitched roofs, crowstepped gables, white harling and a corbelled stair tower. As usual for this period the design shows strong Dutch influence. This is also reflected in the interior layout where the family lived downstairs and the merchandise was stored on the first floor.
In recent years it was used as an Old People’s Day Centre but it is now occupied by Friends of the Earth who have kindly offered to show us round – in view of this a good turnout would be appreciated.
10 members of the Society paid a visit to Trinity House, Leith on 20th March. It was set up in the 14th century as an incorporation of ship owners and master mariners as a charity for impoverished or disabled seamen and an important part of the service was a hospice. The original building (site unknown) was destroyed during the ‘rough wooing’ in 1544. A new building was constructed on the present site shortly after but all that remains of it are vaulted cellars under the present building which was built in 1816 with an interesting classical facade. An attractive feature inside is an intricate plaster ceiling in the dining room. The walls are covered by oil paintings of mariners and ships but the one that stands out is that of Admiral Duncan, victor of the Battle of Camperdown. There are also fine ship models, covering a long period from sail to steam, examples of equipment used in navigation such as telescopes and sextants and many other sailing memorabilia. This was a very well spent afternoon and our thanks go to the enthusiastic, pleasant and well-informed guide. So enthusiastic that she may join us for the visit to Lamb’s House.
The dig has recommenced and will continue through the summer. Sir Robert Clerk has given permission for a further geophysical survey to be made in the field to the south of Castlehill for us to see whether we can find any anomalies that align with crop marks that appear on two separate RAF photographic surveys. We appear to have found a working site on the hill but no domestic debris – was the residential area on this sheltered south side?
Magnetometry at Lauriston
The initial work in the Farl O’Cakes field, which is reputed to be the site of the burial ground for the Roman fort at Cramond, was a ground resistance survey. It was written up as one of our Geophysics Papers in March 2006. The highs and lows in the printout were difficult to interpret and one of the conclusions was that a magnetometry survey over the same area should be conducted. An offer to perform the survey by a geophysicist, who owns a Bartington Fluxgate Gradiometer, was too good to miss. On 8th March we set out the corner flags of the 24 20 by 20 metre squares and Peter set up his equipment and took all the readings. We took five day sessions while the magnetometry survey took about 2½ hours!
Large areas of Scotland are well known for presenting very ‘noisy’ magnetic pictures due to a lot of glaciated igneous boulders incorporated in the soil – these boulders all give significant positive magnetic responses. The Farl O’Cakes field appears to be a good example of this phenomenon. We now have the task of attempting to interpret the magnetometry in conjunction with the ground resistance printout to see where we have coincident responses and whether they form any pattern. The initial comment from Peter is that some of the magnetic responses to the east of the field could represent rig and furrow from earlier cultivation.